"I like the idea of a god who knows what it's like to be a twin. To have no memory of ever being alone."
Twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike are enjoying a relatively comfortable life in Lagos in 1996. Then their mother loses her job due to political strife, and the family, facing poverty, becomes drawn into the New Church, an institution led by a charismatic pastor who is not shy about worshipping earthly wealth.
Soon Bibike and Ariyike's father wagers the family home on a "sure bet" that evaporates like smoke. As their parents' marriage collapses in the aftermath of this gamble, the twin sisters and their two younger siblings, Andrew and Peter, are thrust into the reluctant care of their traditional Yoruba grandmother. Inseparable while they had their parents to care for them, the twins' paths diverge once the household shatters. Each girl is left to locate, guard, and hone her own fragile source of power.
Written with astonishing intimacy and wry attention to the fickleness of fate, Tola Rotimi Abraham's Black Sunday takes us into the chaotic heart of family life, tracing a line from the euphoria of kinship to the devastation of estrangement. In the process, it joyfully tells a tale of grace and connection in the midst of daily oppression and the constant incursions of an unremitting patriarchy. This is a novel about two young women slowly finding, over twenty years, in a place rife with hypocrisy but also endless life and love, their own distinct methods of resistance and paths to independence.
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About the AuthorTola Rotimi Abraham is a writer from Lagos, Nigeria. She lives in Iowa City and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in journalism. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she has taught writing at the University of Iowa. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Catapult, The Des Moines Register, The Nigerian Literary Magazine, and other places.
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"[A] piercing, supple debut . . . Abraham stuffs her novel past brimming, but its sophisticated structure and propulsive narration allow her to tuck in a biting critique of corrupt colonial religion and universally exploitative men . . . Twin sisters cut adrift in a perilous, duplicitous world learn that 'only the wise survive.' A formidable debut." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Abraham's fierce debut follows four Nigerian siblings living in Lagos from childhood in 1996 through early adulthood in 2015 . . . The novel's strength lies in its lush, unflinching scenes, as when a seemingly simple infection leads gradually but inexorably to a life-threatening condition, revealing the dynamics of the family and community along the way. Abraham mightily captures a sense of the stresses of daily life in a family, city, and culture that always seems on the edge of self-destruction." --Publishers Weekly
"Set in Lagos over a period of decades, this absorbing debut follows twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike from the inseparable bonds of relative comfort to the challenges and independence of poverty." --Karla Strand, Ms.
"Abraham's debut novel tackles weighty topics like rape, self-discovery, and the mischief of prominent religious figures with a refreshing elegance. Bibike and Ariyike are nuanced characters who often make decisions with a jarred moral compass. Abraham gently ushers readers into both sisters' perspectives, inviting us into their journey to autonomous peace." --Booklist
"I adore stories that are set in places I've never been, and Abraham's evocative writing made it feel like I was in Lagos with the siblings." --Alma, One of Our Favorite Books of the Season
"Tola Rotimi Abraham's sharp, captivating debut thrums with the energy of life itself. The story of a family and a city reeling from wounds both private and political, Black Sunday delivers unforgettable characters as they adapt to often cruel circumstances and fight to author their own futures. Abraham writes with such irresistible confidence and startling precision, I can't wait to see what she does next." --Mia Alvar, author of In the Country
"With stunning beauty and painful wisdom, Tola Rotimi Abraham's Black Sunday lays bare her characters' deepest aches and desires in a voice that is as haunting as it is addictive." --Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of The Revisioners and A Kind of Freedom
"In a fresh and fierce debut, Tola Rotimi Abraham proves that it's an act of indelible resistance every time a young woman tells her story. Through the eyes of a family at its brink, Abraham reveals the truth about violence, tenderness, and the disquiet in between. Black Sunday is a surprising switchblade of a novel." --Amy Jo Burns, author of Cinderland and Shiner
"An assured and worthy debut, Black Sunday finds lyricism in the swell of everyday betrayal. In Abraham's hands, the coming-of-age novel mourns the easy perversion of sex, love, ambition, and faith, glimpsing, nevertheless, twin moments of grace and intimacy, daring and strength." --Tracy O'Neill, author of The Hopeful and Quotients