Nigerian author Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi makes her American debut with this novel which explores her homeland’s past, present, and possible future through the interconnected stories of four fearless globe-trotting women.
In the nearly 20 years since I first learned of Aristotle’s belief that the best story endings are 'surprising, yet inevitable,' I have rarely been as blindsided — in the best possible way — by the final moments of a book as I was while reading Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi’s Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions: A Novel in Interlocking Stories ... The final chapter will shock you. You will likely pause, flip back a few pages, certain that you missed something. Then you will realize that you did not, in fact, miss anything. You might scream, close the book, go for a walk and return to it, still shocked ... The brilliance of Ogunyemi’s writing is that after that walk, you’ll realize that from the book’s earliest pages (which are set in 1897) to its final pages (set in 2050), she lays out exactly what is to come. While the narrative is personal...the background also matters. Politics and revolution are never far from the women’s stories ... Ogunyemi declines to explain Africanness or Blackness to readers ... Ogunyemi artfully describes the strength of a sisterhood formed in childhood and forged through highs and lows of love, loss and distance or separation from a loved one ... Each of the 10 chapters that make up this novel can stand on its own, but together they tell a beautiful story of sisterhood, family and love.
The nearly 15 years Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi spent writing and rewriting proves to be tenacity well invested, resulting in her audacious debut ... The 10 chapters here work as standalone pieces, but to read them together rewards audiences with mesmerizing intertwined narratives ... Born and raised in Nigeria, Ogunyemi deftly filters the personal, historical and political throughout her collection, weaving autobiographical details from her own career as a biomedical informatician with Christianity's culturally destructive colonialism, senseless police violence, labyrinthine healthcare and the consequences of the radical and racist polarization of U.S. society. Yet, Ogunyemi never forgets to engage and entertain even as she slyly exposes and educates ... For admiring readers, the radiance of Ogunyemi's debut hopefully signals more dazzling fiction to come.
Ogunyemi’s writing has the power to reverberate through generations. She captures the spirit of Nigeria and gives voice to the complicated mix of disappointment, fierce loyalty, and adoration Nigerians have for their country ... Each story is deeply moving and the whole is so well-paced readers will be shocked at how quickly they reach the last page. Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions celebrates friendship, the power of community and home, and the joy of being a woman able to take control of her destiny.