Dublin Unitarian Book Club’s
choice for April 2021.
My Sister, the Serial Killer
Oyinkan Braithwaite 2018
The story is set in Lagos, it centres on the lives and relationships of two sisters who witnessed the death of their wealthy and abusive father when they were teenagers. Korede, the elder sister of Ayoola is presented as the dependable and responsible sibling, she considers herself ungainly and ugly as she has very dark skin ‘like a brazil nut’ and is very tall at 6 feet, she is surpassed by her beautiful pale skinned and voluptuous sister Ayoola. Korede is a dedicated nurse in the local hospital and has fallen in love with Tade, one of the doctors. With her great beauty Ayoola turns all heads and she gets what she wants at home and in life using her charms but when she is in trouble she can depend on Korede. Ayoola is an online businesswoman and a romancer of selected admirers whom she kills by stabbing when their attraction fades. Ayoola sets her sights on Tade and the sisters relationship is in jeopardy.
The book is comedic and yet horrifying leaving this reader with mixed reactions. It describes the role of women in Nigerian society, the power of beauty, the control of women, their relationships and rivalries and the power exercised by men in a patriarchal society. Corruption and the defiance of the traditional cultural mores are revealed as we follow this coquettish man killer and her loyal sister through 4 murders all committed with her deceased fathers prized stiletto. Oyinkan satirises elements of traditional society and plays with cultural norms in what presents as a comic novel though I did not find her debut novel funny at all and found the flippant style quite irritating.
Dublin Unitarian Church
Oyinkan Braithwaithe is a Nigerian writer in her thirties who lives in Lagos .She was educated in the UK. This novel was longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019 and longlisted for the 2020 Dublin Literary award. It is in short about two sisters living in modern day Lagos. Korede a nurse the elder who cleans up after the murders that her younger beautiful sister Ayoola just keeps on committing .
The book does not neatly fit into a genre. It could be said to be crime fiction, but it is also a wickedly dark comedy, an examination of the bonds within a family, and an overview of how the lives of strong women can be constricted through living in a patriarchal culture where family is everything.
Yet as the body count rises the trauma that shaped their childhood becomes clear. The book might seem light with short chapters however with a few deft sentences Braithwaite can paint compelling portraits in just a few words of the settings and the characters. Braithwaite is also a slam poet and her playful use of language in the book shows that she just loves words.
Every reader in the book club remembered the story and the characters and found the book a page turner. Some had qualms about the subject matter and found the balance of dark humour and murder unpleasant. Others loved it. If there was a consensus it was, that whilst this book might be funny and dark it does not mean that it is not also serious!
Dublin Unitarian Church
Oyinkan Braithwaite’s next book seems to be directed
to young adult
readers “The baby is mine” due out 17th May 2021