The title of this book is what appeals to you at first. Why will a Nigerian woman want to be a serial killer? Are there even serial killers in Nigeria? Isn’t it a western thing? Isn’t she mental? These are some of the funny thoughts that came to mind as I held my copy with great joy!
In this debut novel, satire meets slasher in this short, darkly funny hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends.
“Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer.”
When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach.
This will be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away.
She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…
It’s kind of difficult to “review” this book because, honestly, it’s a book without any strong theme. It is not a book against the backdrop of any political happening. It’s basically a book about nothing and really, that’s what I love about it.
Braithwaite in an interview with The Guardian makes us understand she is unabashed that her novel makes no attempt to address her country’s difficult past and maybe even current happenings!
“I don’t have that knowledge. I can’t give you what I don’t have,” she says. The idea that writers can represent some universal Nigerian experience is a chimera, when a universal Nigerian experience simply doesn’t exist, she explains. “We have a wide divide between classes and we have a wide divide between cultures because we’re from different tribes, we have different religions. You don’t have to walk very far to see someone who has a really different life from you.” She may live in a house where all you have to do to turn on the light is flick a switch, but in Lagos you only have to cross the road to find someone who has never had electricity. “I wouldn’t want to write a novel and people feel that I’m speaking to a Nigerian experience – I’m speaking to my experience, to the things I’m interested in, and that’s all I can do.”
I feel like most Nigerian authors are not satisfied with their work until they create a political or heavy social theme out of it. And really, a book doesn’t have to be about anything serious.
Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel already has a film option from British production house Working Title, which has been behind films such as Baby Driver (2017) and Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016).
Did I enjoy this book? YES I DID! I love that it’s different. Unique. There is Tade, Aunty Taiwo, Ayoola, Father, Mother, Yinka and Muhtar Yautai – the patient turned therapist. My Sister The Serial Killer went from being a disturbing read to really irritating (because of some of the characters) and to really dark. However, in between the dark plot, there were screams of loyalty, unconditional love and even trust. Which makes me wonder; what length will I go to keep my serial killer of a sister away from the authorities? Will I ever turn her in? If your sister is a serial killer, will you turn her in? How unconditional is your love?
This book deserves a sequel! I move the motion!
About the Author:
Oyinkan Braithwaite is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at Kachifo, a Nigerian publishing house, and as a Production Manager at Ajapaworld, a Children’s Educational and Entertainment Company. She now works as a freelance writer and editor. In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top-ten spoken-word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam, and in 2016 she was a finalist for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She lives in Lagos, Nigeria.