No love lost
Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut work, My Sister, the Serial Killer is a suspense novel interspersed with comedy
This novel set in Lagos, Nigeria, is a chilling tale of sibling rivalry or rather loyalty, and features an entire cast of Nigerian characters.
“Ayoola summons me with these words… Korede I killed him. I had hoped I would never hear those words again” — My Sister, the Serial Killer written by Oyinkan Braithwaite begins with these chilling words. Korede is the elder sibling in a family of three whose younger sister keeps killing off her boyfriends.
Suspense is interspersed with comedy and high doses of gripping dramatic situations in the debut novel by Braithwaite who has penned a tale of murder and betrayal. Korede is a nurse who has been taking care of the family, her mother and sister after the death of her abusive father.
Ayoola is the diva and Korede is made aware of her unstoppable beauty since secondary school where she is caricatured by “immature and dumb” boys with lips that could belong to a gorilla and with eyes that seemed to push every other feature out of the way.
Nobody can seem to resist Ayoola’s charm and Korede in her role of protector and because she shares a traumatic abusive past, has helped cover up three murders — all three ex boyfriends of Ayoola. That is until Ayoola takes a fancy to the doctor for whom Korede harbours romantic feelings. Things start getting out of hand and Korede might have to take a difficult decision — stay loyal to family or give in to love.
It is interesting to note that women across geographical boundaries, just because they are born women, share similar experiences. They are forced to play second fiddle to men, be it in the encounters with police, in the workplace or in romantic relationship. Doing so makes it easier in society.
Both Korede and Ayoola are strong characters who live in a world that seems to shush them and each copes in a different fashion. While Braithwaite deftly explores the contours of sisterly love, she uses economy to paint other characters, giving readers just the right amount of information needed, nothing more. The men in this take are either killed off or are exposed for the manner in which they claim to treat the women they love.
The pace of the gripping story is fast and although the ending can be a little disappointing, it seems but inevitable. Even we, as readers, cannot be persuaded to hate Ayoola, who is portrayed as someone who does not act with malice.
The author provides a glimpse into African customs and traditions and there is use of the Nigerian slang but the gripping story can be set anywhere and has a relatability to it.
Don’t go by the neon lettering on the book’s cover, it keeps the reader hooked till the last page.
Published by the Atlantic Books, My Sister... was a chance recommendation by a lovely person at the independent bookstore, The Bookshop in Delhi.