Title: The Stillborn
Author: Zaynab Alkali
Genre: African Literature, Drama, Family Drama
This novel is centred around the experiences of women in contemporary Nigeria. It follows the adolescent plans and dreams of Li as she struggles for independence against the traditional values of her family home, marriage and the lure of the city and all it can offer.
I read this earlier this year, and it’s my second Zaynab Alkali book. It follows the life of Li, a 13 years old girl and the challenges she faces in life.
It discusses the struggles girls face growing up, the way the society condemns them whenever they say their minds. Li has a lot of dreams and terribly wishes to see it come to pass, but that isn’t possible. Not in her little village. Every after marrying her sweetheart Habu, things still don’t go as per her dreams. The person she knew, her husband, is now a different being. Going back home will be like accepting defeat. Her village people will be sure to tell her to keep being patient. She does but there are times that even patience is not enough.
I love the setting of the novel, a small village in Northern Nigeria. It is a light hearted read, which discusses a lot of issues including feminism, love, chauvinism, loss, family. The main character Li, is definitely a true icon – smart, self willed even in those days where it was considered a crime for a woman, dedicated in pursuing her dreams, kind hearted and strong. Reading about her family dynamic from the beginning brought tears to my eyes. Her brother’s disappearance, her sister’s sadness and the overall feeling of being not able to pursue her dreams.
I adore this book so much that it’s one of my best reads this year. If you like books that roll around family dynamics, heartache, drama, then this book is for you.