Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel, My Sister, the Serial Killer, is a wickedly comedic story of Korede and her sister, Ayoola. Despite their differences, the sisters couldn’t be closer. And while critical of her sister’s decisions and often jealous of the attention she receives from men, Korede is still the protector of Ayoola’s secrets–no matter how deadly.
Set in Nigeria, this story is one of family and loyalty. Ayoola is beautiful, enchanting, and has a problem keeping her boyfriends alive. Korede is the responsible, self-deprecating older sister. As a nurse, she is used to taking care of others and her sister is no exception. As she continually cleans up Ayoola’s messes, Korede begins to question her loyalty to her mischievous sister.
How long can this go on? Can she keep Ayoola’s secrets forever? Should she? What is she getting out of it and would her sister do the same for her?
This was a fast-paced story, accessible and entertaining. Braithwaite allows us to peek into life in Lagos, including interactions with police that have Korede worried. I almost felt like I was a friend of the sisters, even though they only truly trust one another.
I was immediately drawn into the fray with Braithwaite’s brisk pacing, short chapters, and darkly humorous writing style. Her subtle hints allow the reader clues into how Korede and Ayoola grew up; reminders of their lives with a violent father and detached mother.
I agree with Parul Sehgal’s review in The NY Times:
There’s a seditious pleasure in its momentum. At a time when there are such wholesome and dull claims on fiction — on its duty to ennoble or train us in empathy — there’s a relief in encountering a novel faithful to art’s first imperative: to catch and keep our attention.
It’s not that the book isn’t deep; it does encourage reflection about family loyalty, courage, right and wrong. But it doesn’t force you into it. You could just read the book purely for entertainment and we need that right now. Somehow reading a book about a serial killer and her enabling sister and enjoying it without judgment feels subversive… and I am here for it.
My Sister, the Serial Killer is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year. Nigerian authors continue to offer us lithe, clever, and original fiction–add Oyinkan Braithwaite to this list. Highly recommended.
Title: My Sister, the Serial Killer
Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite
Pages: 228 pages
Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Tags: Nigeria, fiction, women writers, debut
My Rating: Highly recommended
Content information: Violence
For more information:
Helping Out Family Is Taken to Extremes in ‘My Sister, the Serial Killer’ by Parul Sehgal for The NY Times
A woman on a killing spree gets some help from her enabling sister by Jon Michaud for the Washington Post
Thanks to Oyinkan Braithwaite, Doubleday, and NetGalley for the complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links; I write what I like.