This winter in reading, we’ve got some fab British exports to look forward to — by way of Pakistan and Nigeria. These 3 titles by debut novelists might vary by topic, but they’re all fresh, funny, and interesting in their portrayal of protagonists straddling different cultures.
Nikki May (Custom House)“Wahala” follows a trio of Anglo-Nigerian BFFs, all with their own busy lives. Sure, everything is a bit of a mess — Ronke has a boyfriend who may or may not ever commit, Boo has a husband and beautiful child, but feels lost in motherhood, and Simi has a glam lifestyle and a husband who’s under the impression that she wants kids (she does not). But when an old friend named Isobel starts hanging out with the group, four is a crowd — and sometimes it seems like Isobel’s intentions are anything but innocent.
Aliyah Ali-Afzal (Grand Central Publishing) Faiza fits in with the well-groomed mothers at her children’s private school — no easy feat, given her childhood spent being bullied for being Pakistani. But all this fitting in has come at a cost; specifically, all the money in her family’s “emergency” fund, which she has used to pay for raffle tables here, ski lessons there, and keeping up appearances. When her husband Tom gets laid off from his finance job, he thinks their emergency fund can float them until he finds a new job. In an effort to keep him from learning the truth, Faiza resorts to desperate measures.
Lizzie Damilola Blackburn (Pamela Dorman Books)Yinka is a thirtysomething British-Nigerian woman with a solid job, an Oxford education, and plenty of good friends. By all accounts, she’s got it all. But whenever she attends family events, the sad refrain is always the same: “Where is your huzband?” It’s not that she isn’t looking — but things haven’t worked out. When her cousin gets engaged, Yinka decides it’s time to get serious with a spreadsheet and a determination to succeed.