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A refreshing debut
on 13 March 2012
This brilliant debut novel brings together issues of class differences with a compelling love story set in the boisterous backdrop of modern day Lagos (Nigeria). It ends with a telling statement about how far love and divided loyalties will go when truly tested.
"The Spider King's Daughter" features Abike Johnson, a shrewd, wealthy and somewhat naive young woman (when you read her different encounters on a Lagos highway, you'll understand why!). When she's not trying to beat her rather large family at a continuous game of wits and influence, she is making sure her status as "Queen Bee" is unchallenged by anyone among her peers. One day, she encounters a young hawker with an interesting past in the boisterous streets of Lagos and both begin an interesting relationship.
This might sound like your typical Romeo and Juliet story- but trust me, it isn't. As the author skilfully weaves a tale around the blossoming love between these two young hearts, she leaves us with a very profound message about the human capacity for change and our expectations about love. Not only was I alternating between laughing out loud, smiling wryly and gasping at the action-packed parts of the book, I felt very much a part of the scenes that Chibundu described. I've never been to Lagos but I could feel the hawker's exasperation as he ran from car to car in the sweltering heat and humidity of the city. I felt I was at Tejuosho market with the hawker and Aunty Precious as they attempted to choose from a large number of "bend-down-select" clothing stores. I was reminded once more of the immense wealth of Nigeria's "1%" as Abike was chauffeured into her sprawling compound everyday.
The book offers a compelling portrait of contemporary Lagos, its unique beauty and deprivation represented in equal measure. How exciting it is to see such work from a new writer with a genuine voice!