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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable
Chika Unigwe who lives and writes from Turnhout in Belgium. Ms Unigwe is a very talented writer and this is her second novel. Her first one, De Feniks was published in Dutch/Flemish but is also available as 'The Phoenix' in English. Unfortunately, you have to walk through Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos to obtain a copy or simply ask your Nigerian friends or relatives...
Published on 12 July 2009 by Amazon Customer

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Insufficient depth, a little predicable. What does it add?
A book such as this is not simply a work of fiction. As such, it is hard to judge it purely in those terms. The author clearly has the ability to write prose and choses a contemporary and heartbreaking topic but somehow fails to move the issue on from what most people who watch documentaries or read newspapers are already aware of.

I am well aware of the...
Published on 29 Dec. 2011 by mcah


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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable, 12 July 2009
By 
Chika Unigwe who lives and writes from Turnhout in Belgium. Ms Unigwe is a very talented writer and this is her second novel. Her first one, De Feniks was published in Dutch/Flemish but is also available as 'The Phoenix' in English. Unfortunately, you have to walk through Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos to obtain a copy or simply ask your Nigerian friends or relatives to get it for you. Her second book though is available via Amazon.co.uk. I ordered and got mine and have not regretted buying it. Ms Unigwe writes about the lives some of our sisters live in Europe. Exactly. Prostituting or better still, being sex workers. She breathes life into their existence; as most of them are not registered as citizens at all. 'Persona non grata', that is their status. So that when they die of some act of violence, they end up being buried like paupers in a country which never embraced them.

Sisi, Efe, Ama and Joyce alongside with their Madam who doesn't walk but barrels through rooms and spaces are the inhabitants of the flat on Zwartezusterstraat, which is the Black Sisters' Street in Dutch. Madam is a modern day 'Slaventreiber', a female pimp who has lost the spirit of compassion towards other human beings, especially black women. She is an excellent business woman though. Excellent in the marketing and selling of human bodies, preferably black female bodies. Ms Unigwe excellently tells of the lives of these women before Belgium and we eventually find out that they all, alongside with many other women have a common 'pimp' in Lagos Nigeria. When we see men or women of extreme wealth in Lagos and we do not see them sweat for it or go to a 9-5 job daily, we should beware. The reader gets to know the women by and by and it is thanks to Ms Unigwe's first class story telling that the book can be categorized as 'unputdownable'. I sure couldn't do anything else in my free time but continue reading until I came to the end. Although one of the women dies, the lives of the others went on to become something useful to their different societies from their countries of origin.

The lesson learned here is 'never judge a book by its cover' We shouldn't judge our sisters in the sex trade until we have walked a mile or two in their shoes. Pick up this book today, read it during your summer break and you will discover that it is money well spent.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shines a light on a murky subject, 13 Nov. 2009
By 
Bobby Smith (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Excellent book that pulls no punches. Most definitely a thought provoking read that gives a voice to African prostitutes - unlucky enough to be 'working' in the seedy bars and streets of Europe. The female characters stir empathy in the reader and make one feel sympathy at the plight of these victims of the sex-trade. One can only hope that the men who use them read this book and are made aware of the issues regarding the traffiking of people into Europe; to be used as sex-objects for the pleasure of men. I suspect, though, that they are the last people who would pick up this original and disturbing book. If you like this I also recommend another book about the Nigerian experience in Europe (England), although from a more positive angle: One Love Two Colours: The Unlikely Marriage of a Punk Rocker and His African Queen by Margaret Oshindele (my wife). This is the true story of how a Yoruba woman can marry an Englishman (me!)and make a success of a marriage.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Insufficient depth, a little predicable. What does it add?, 29 Dec. 2011
This review is from: On Black Sisters' Street (Paperback)
A book such as this is not simply a work of fiction. As such, it is hard to judge it purely in those terms. The author clearly has the ability to write prose and choses a contemporary and heartbreaking topic but somehow fails to move the issue on from what most people who watch documentaries or read newspapers are already aware of.

I am well aware of the trafficking of women into wealthy countries (not just Europe) for the sex trade. This has gone on all over the world for probably as long as the world has existed. The women traded are usually from desperate situations either from poverty or war and are therefore vulnerable and easily exploited. They don't all get tricked into it, some go with their eyes open as to the 'work' that awaits them. However, few realise the slavery they have signed up to in repaying their pimps for the supposed 'opportunity' of a brave new life in a wealthy country. The majority are in the countries illegally and therefore have no protection and are totally at the mercy of those exploiting them. Many Eastern European suffer this fate within the UK, sometimes as total prisoners inside buildings. None of this is new. There have been many articles and documentaries covering these; complete with filmed interviews of the victims (often in silhouette to safeguard their identity) and their stories and backgrounds are heartbreaking. Those that control them are dangerous and think nothing of disposing of them at the drop of a hat, safe in the knowledge that nobody will expend much effort defending those that technically dont exist.

This is my point about this novel. It doesn't really show us much beyond what we should already know and in many ways shows us rather less. The depth of emotion and anger I have felt over press reports has been much greater. The characters in this book are given a past and, in some cases a horrific past but somehow the author doesn't develop this sufficiently or get us sufficiently involved with the characters to have the intended effect. For instance one of the girls sees her family murdered and is gang raped by rebels but soon after finds herself in a Sudanese refugee camp and falls in love with one of the peace keepers and ends up back in his tent where they develop a relationship...Eventually the relationship does go wrong but somehow this all happens rather fast and casually. Somehow the deep damage both physical and mental that she has suffered is not covered or (is assumed) and this makes the follow on relationship seem somewhat unlikely. Her feelings are not discussed, it's almost as if she's just had a bit of bad luck but she's over it soon enough.

The plot is very predictable.....maybe because it is not news.

If you are unaware of what goes on, then this is well written and certainly worth reading but it is not as deeply gut wrenching at it should be because somehow we dont get close to any of the characters for long enough. Time moves rather randomly back and forth and the developing closeness between the girls is somehow not demonstrated or credible. I think this is why the book doesn't quite hit the mark.

Not a bad book at all but not quite satisfactory for purpose.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sisi, 23 Oct. 2014
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Deep down I was wishing the reference to Sisi's death was actually in the alias as opposed to the actual character (Chisom). It was however a very intriguing read. I love how the writer moved from time space, delving into the future and the last simultaneously without losing the story line or causing confusion. Great work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars loved it, 15 July 2014
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This was a fantastic book. I was drawn into the lives of these brave women and laughed when they laughed and cried when they cried. I didn't want the story to end and did not like how it ended. On the whole is worth reading
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5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable book, 29 April 2014
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This review is from: On Black Sisters' Street (Paperback)
A great book, very well written. It will really leave an impact on you and gives a different perspective to the lives of prostitutes, the lives they have had to lead and to where they may have come from. Touching on so many levels.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A tough read that you can't put down, 26 Mar. 2014
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Unigwe captures stories of survival of women with multiple experiences of violence, objectification and oppression . It's not worthy but hard and authentic ...perfect
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 23 Feb. 2014
By 
Ms. N. A. Scott "miss scott" (London, England UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: On Black Sisters' Street (Paperback)
Really interesting how all the characters come together through one character Dele, an greedy, manipulative man. Each of their stories are heart felt and extraordinary
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4.0 out of 5 stars 4 girls in debt, 15 Nov. 2013
By 
ADAM (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This is the story of 4 black African girls living together in Antwerp (Belgium). Each of them owe an enormous amount of money to Dele, a Nigerian in Lagos, who has facilitated their arrival in Europe. To pay him off they must sell their bodies to the sex-starved men of Antwerp.

When I began reading the book I was a little confused, but after re-reading the first few pages a couple of times, I was rapidly sucked into this charming novel. Gradually, we learn about the lives and ambitions of the 4 women, and how and why they have ended up as prostitutes in a Belgian city. It is not only a compelling tale that makes one want to move from one page to the next as soon as possible, but also a revealing series of insights about life in 'black' Africa. Although there are several sad strands running through the book, I was not left feeling depressed, but oddly uplifted.

Chika Uniwe, the Nigerian author of this novel is, like her compatriot Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a good story-teller. She is able to conjure up vivid images in the reader's mind despite being extremely economical with her language. She creates a brilliant picture in few words. I look forward to reading more books by Ms Unigwe.

Review by author of "SCRABBLE WITH SLIVOVITZ" a book about Yugoslavia before its civil wars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 28 Oct. 2013
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This book clearly depicts reality. It's engaging and mind blowing.. It will glue you to your sit till the last page.
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On Black Sisters' Street
On Black Sisters' Street by Chika Unigwe (Paperback - 2 Sept. 2010)
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