Movies and books share many obvious differences but what’s especially difficult for the reader versus the cinephile is there aren’t nearly as many movies as there are books. You’d have to practically live under a rock not to know about films like Aquaman and Vice premiering close to or on Christmas, and even if you want to find info non-blockbuster popular indy types like The Favourite, the internet makes that relatively easy.
Whereas with books, there are thousands (millions?) that get released yearly throughout a wide range of genres and if you’re on the hunt for new titles outside of those written by megastar authors like Stephen King, you’ve got to know where to look. Blogs, websites, Goodreads. You have to be somewhat connected.
All that to say, My Sister, the Serial Killer is a rare example of a blockbuster book. I’ve seen it promoted just about everywhere I read about what to read. The cover art is memorable and that helps, but this book has made just about every single list from bestsellers to best-of. If you have even a remote interest in crime fiction, whether or not you do a good job keeping up with new releases, it’s difficult to avoid this.
I had been meaning to pick it up from the library when, earlier this week, a friend unexpectedly lent me a copy (sans cover, which he was afraid I would damage and I don’t blame him). I read it in a sitting-and-a-half and even apart from the hype, it is a good read. I’m impressed that this is Oyinkan Braithwaite’s first novel. I read that she’s a poet and poets have a way of providing sharp, crisp prose for the novels they write.
The story itself is well told. The narration from the first person perspective of Korede, the lead character, will stay with me. I don’t normally like serial killer tales but this isn’t a typical one. Rather, it’s a story about sisters: what makes them so alike and so different and how their parents relationship affected them for better and (mostly) for worse. There are probably larger satirical points being made about Nigerian society, patriarchal violence, etc. but the story itself is focused and it works effectively. I felt connected to the bond Korede has with her sister, a bond that lasts for better and for worse, and how her character is always swimming against the tide.
Again, I’m not familiar with Nigerian lit so I’m sure subtleties were missed but from what I gathered, this was a good read. Definitely one of my favorites of 2018.