April Book Club Pick & Meeting – The Bead Collector by Sefi Atta

I already announced it on instagram… weeks ago, but for some reason I didn’t post a full on review and announcement here. So I am here to rectify.

I have loved Sefi Atta since I read her first book. “Everything good will come” as a teenager and have followed her work since. Her writing of Lagos elitism and snobbery is absolutely delightful, and she is able to create these characters that you love and are exasperated by in equal measure. I always find myself laughing with and at her characters at different points, and relating to them deeply.

Synopsis

“Lagos, January 1976, six years after the Nigerian Civil War. A new military regime has been in power for six months, but rumors are spreading that a countercoup is imminent. At an art exhibition in the affluent Ikoyi neighborhood, Remi Lawal, a Nigerian woman who runs her own greeting-card shop, meets Frances Cooke, who introduces herself as an American art dealer, in Nigeria to buy rare beads. They become friends and over the next few weeks confide in each other about their aspirations, loyalties, marriage, motherhood—and Nigeria itself, as hospitable Remi welcomes the enigmatic Frances into her world. Remi’s husband, Tunde, naturally suspects Frances—like any American in Lagos—of gathering intelligence for the CIA, yet she is unconvinced. Cynical about the country’s unending instability, and alienated by the shallowness of the city’s elite, she willingly shares her views with Frances. But the February 13 assassination of General Muhammed prompts Remi to reconsider one particular conversation with her new acquaintance in a different light. Her discouragement overcome by a reawakened sense of patriotism, she begins to doubt that the bead collector is who she claims to be.”

My Thoughts

I absolutely loved this book from the first few pages! Remi’s character is funny and witty, a Lagos woman who juggles domesticity, business, and friendship on the backdrop of a politically and economically unstable Nigeria. I enjoyed reading the ways in which money, class politics, culture, and colonialism clash and affect human behaviour. It was also heartbreaking to get the feeling that Nigeria hasn’t really moved forward, and we keep going round and round in circles, with little to no progress made. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

HNM Rating

I rate this book 4 stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Book Club Meeting

We will be discussing this book on the 28th of April, 7:00pm WAT, on Zoom, and here is the link. I can’t wait to see as many of you guys as my zoom bandwidth can take. Also, if you haven’t joined the book club, what are you waiting for?

1 Comment

  • Oliver Onwusonye

    Just discovered hnm. It's really interesting. As lover of African writers, it affords me the means to lay hands on new and unknown titles to me. Great.

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