12 Nov / His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie [in Booklist]
Prodigious Soneela Nankani – who reigns as the South Asian/South Asian American voice-of-choice – ventures onto onto a new continent, landing in Ghana to cipher debut novelist/gender scholar Peace Adzo Medie’s not-quite-Cinderella tale with energetic aplomb.
Once upon a time, Afi was a poor village seamstress-in-training, living with her widowed mother. And then Afi is hand-picked by the local doyenne – a businesswoman generous to those who dare not challenge her – to marry her son Eli as a means to lure him away from his longtime Liberian lover, whom the powerful family has deemed inappropriate. That Eli can’t even be bothered to show up for their wedding – he sends his brother in absentia – should have been a flashing-red warning. Too soon, Afi is installed in a luxurious apartment in Accra where she morphs from malleable naif preening, cooking, waiting for a missing husband to tenacious entrepreneur willing to fight for the man she loves.
While the transformation feels overlong, Nankani convincingly turns Afi’s timid “please” with which she initially prefaces every sentence into a righteous claim for respect and recognition.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult