A Spell Of Good Things, by Women’s Prize-shortlisted author Ayòbámi Adébáyò, tells the story of two Nigerias. One is of the affluent, educated elite. The impoverished other exists not so much alongside the first as interwoven within it.
Wúràolá lives in the first Nigeria: a young doctor whose experience shines a spotlight on the corruption and politicisation of the healthcare system in the country, but whose romantic life opens up a more universal wound of abuse, power and manipulation. Eniolá’s story transitions between these two Nigerias. When he was younger, and his father was a prominent history teacher, his future was bright and he hoped to work his way through school and into university. But after his father loses his job and sinks into a depression that leaves the family begging for food and fighting to survive, his trajectory changes, catapulting him into Wúràolá’s world.
With books that grapple with the complexity of particularly patriarchal societies such as this, it can sometimes fall on the author to offer a judgment or commentary of that which is being depicted – that the author is made to shoulder the burden of moral contextualisation for an international audience. While Adébáyò does not necessarily reject this in A Spell Of Good Things, her writing suggests that she has not felt the pressure to write a novel which justifies itself, but rather allows the reader to absorb the experiences of her characters and come to their own conclusions. This is how people experience the world, she says without caveat.
A Spell Of Good Things, Ayòbámi Adébáyò (Canongate)
Price: £18.99. Info: here
words MEGAN THOMAS