In Valerie Stivers’s Eat Your Words series, she cooks up recipes drawn from the works of various writers.
The Nigerian expatriate writer Buchi Emecheta (1944–2017) in her own words was a “sort of” successful novelist in the London of the 1970s and 1980s. Her books are juicy and plot-gripping, more fun to read than titles like Second Class Citizen, The Slave Girl and The Bride Price might imply. Emecheta’s topic is a difficult one—the grim fate of women in Nigerian and Nigerian emigré society, and the worsening of their already fragile social rights caused by urbanization—but the effect is often oddly consoling. There’s inspiration in her sense of injustice, in her insistence that her character’s lives should be better.
Emecheta’s personal story is also inspiring. Many of her books are set in the Ibuza of her youth, but Second Class Citizen in particular is semi-autobiographical, and tells the story of Adah, a young woman who schemes to get an education and— despite being forced into marriage at sixteen years old manages to emigrate to London. Eventually she leaves her husband—single-parenting five small children in conditions of desperate poverty—and becomes a writer. Read More