"These beautifully rendered stories form an impressive whole that will please multiple literary tastes, combining Nigerian history with a touch of mysticism, and contemporary familial angst with a dire futuristic vision." — Library Journal
“Dynamic… These richly developed stories are resonant and rewarding.”— — Publishers Weekly
"I couldn’t put this book down and I loved spending time in the lives of Nonso, Remi, Aisha, and Solape. Truly this book will grab hold of your heart and mind and everything in between.” — Roxane Gay, author of Hunger and Bad Feminist
"In this original novel in interlocking stories, Ogunyemi writes powerfully and compellingly of relationships, both romantic and non-romantic. Set between 1897 and 2050, the stories move across countries—Nigeria, Poland, and the United States. Whether set in the past, the present, or the future, Ogunyemi's characters are recognizably human, and their struggles and desires explored in incisive, delightful prose. Ogunyemi is a natural story-teller." — Chika Unigwe, author of Better Never Than Late
"I truly loved this linked short story collection. The narrative takes us into the intimate workings of friends and families. Omolola explores their complex lives in astoundingly beautiful language. If, like me, you enjoy stories that take you out of your reading chair to worlds that follow you back to your own, then this is the book for you." — Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, award-winning author of A WOMAN OF ENDURANCE
"In her debut collection of interwoven stories, Lola Ogunyemi has reinvented the classic narrative of diaspora. She reaches into Nigeria’s past and far into the speculative future, travels from Africa, to Poland, to America, drawing together an unforgettable group of characters whose shared struggles and triumphs are delivered with profound feeling, inspired insight, and careful humor. Each story is unique in tone and structure, but together they crystallize into a remarkable and important vision of heritage, culture, and an indelible sense of home." — Ivy Pochoda, author of These Women and Wonder Valley
"I have rarely been as blindsided—in the best possible way—by the final moments of a book as I was while reading Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions: A Novel in Interlocking Stories. The final chapter will shock you. You will likely pause, flip back a few pages, certain that you missed something. Then you will realize that you did not, in fact, miss anything. You might scream, close the book, go for a walk and return to it, still shocked." — New York Times Book Review
"For admiring readers, the radiance of Ogunyemi's debut hopefully signals more dazzling fiction to come." — Shelf Awareness
"Ogunyemi explores myriad themes, from religion and fundamentalism to grief and resilience, capitalism and corruption, with aplomb." — Kirkus Reviews
"Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions celebrates friendship, the power of community and home, and the joy of being a woman able to take control of her destiny… Ogunyemi’s writing has the power to reverberate through generations." — Booklist (starred review)
"Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions is a poignant and beautiful book. I loved returning to these characters at different points in their lives in various locales across the worlda market in Lagos, Nigeria, a cafe in Krakow, Poland, or a New York highway. Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi will sweep you away with these subtle yet profound stories. She is a bold and elegant writer, and this debut is such a pleasure.” — Edan Lepucki, author of Woman No. 17 and California: A Novel
"Ogunyemi’s language is lyrical, and what makes this interlocked novel a brilliant piece of art is the texture of the experiences and themes she carefully tracks. Like a seasoned Nigerian cook, she layers the book with distinct voices and perspectives—from the fable-like lilt of the opening story to the sharp contemporary language of the later section, and then the rhythmic pidgin in the last third of the book. . .a brilliant authorial move that also captures the sounds and flavor of Lagos. In the end, what we have is a meticulously detailed narrative that pulsates." — Isele Magazine
DEBUT From the first chapter, set in 1900s Nigeria, to a jaw-dropping finale that takes place in a dystopian 2050, this debut from Ogunyemi (a professor of preventive and social medicine at Charles R. Drew Univ. of Medicine and Science) imagines an unforgettable cast of characters, beginning with the unorthodox union of female leader Adaoma; her wife Fodo; and Fodo's lover Imma. Their offspring become the thread that weaves together a tale of four smart, resilient women—Nonso, Remi, Solape, and Aisha—who first meet while staging an insurrection at their boarding school. Over decades, through professional successes, marriages, divorces, parenthood, and loss, the women move between Nigeria and the United States while navigating the émigré's dilemma: they straddle two cultures and are at home in neither. Nonso climbs the corporate ladder yet feels lost in Brooklyn, craving the foods and smells of Ibadan, while Remi, a mathematician juggling kids and husband in upstate New York, resents her Lagosian father's persistent demands for remittances. As a college student new to the Bronx, Remi's husband Segun had conjured his dead father's warning about the United States, tamping down fear and powerlessness when facing a couple of rookie cops with bad intentions. VERDICT These beautifully rendered stories form an impressive whole that will please multiple literary tastes, combining Nigerian history with a touch of mysticism, and contemporary familial angst with a dire futuristic vision.—Sally Bissell
A novel in stories that orbits four girls who meet in boarding school in Nigeria.
Remi, Nonso, Aisha, and Solape become fast friends as schoolgirls. The book's title refers to an incident that occurs on campus in 1986 and changes their lives irrevocably. When an acrimonious principal fires several teachers beloved by their pupils, students revolt. Some girls participate in the protest and some don’t, but they all experience lasting consequences from the choices they make in this single moment of their childhoods. The first of the book's connected stories takes place long before the uprising and centers a grandmother of one of the girls in an origin story of sorts that demonstrates this writer’s capacious vision. The stories that follow trace the trajectories of the girls’ lives as they grow into ambitious, cosmopolitan, globe-trotting women and introduce others who populate their worlds. One story, narrated by Remi's college sweetheart, takes place in the Bronx; a story narrated by Solape’s mother and another by Nonso’s housekeeper are set in Nigeria nine years apart. In this way Ogunyemi widens the aperture beyond the tight-knit friendship among the central characters to address family dynamics, race relations, changing political landscapes in the United States and Nigeria, and the ways in which women and girls adapt, endure, and thrive. These stories both collapse and reconstruct the coming-of-age arc in a refreshing way. The final story shines brightest in imagining a near future for the elders the girls become, and for the U.S. and Nigeria, that exceeds Aristotle’s maxim that a good ending be surprising yet inevitable. Ogunyemi explores myriad themes, from religion and fundamentalism to grief and resilience, capitalism and corruption, with aplomb.
This kaleidoscopic narrative features engaging sociopolitical drama alongside a charismatic cast of characters.