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Fata Morgana

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  1,010 Ratings  ·  178 Reviews
Vier Afrikaanse vrouwen laten alles achter, op zoek naar een beter leven. Ze worden naar Antwerpen gesmokkeld door Dele, een Nigeriaanse man, en komen in de prostitutie terecht. Een van de vrouwen sterft. Haar dramatische lot dwingt de andere vrouwen tot een genadeloos zelfonderzoek.
Hardcover, 319 pages
Published 2007 by Meulenhoff / Manteau
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Adam
Oct 27, 2013 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
This is the story of 4 black African girls living together in Antwerp (Belgium). Each of them owe an enormous amount of money to Dele, a Nigerian in Lagos, who has facilitated their arrival in Europe. To pay him off they must sell their bodies to the sex-starved men of Antwerp.

When I began reading the book I was a little confused, but after re-reading the first few pages a couple of times, I was rapidly sucked into this charming novel. Gradually, we learn about the lives and ambitions of the 4 w
...more
Cheryl
I've wanted to read this book since Chika Unigwe won the coveted $100k Nigerian literature prize. This book is entertaining indeed, in some places unfolding just like the popular and highly entertaining Nigerian dramas. One thing that Unigwe did well here was the rich dialogue: you could envision yourself in the middle of the conversation. And the strategic sprinkle of dialect: just enough to be authentic, not too much to overwhelm.

The story is about African women with traumatic childhoods who
...more
Abeer Hoque
Dec 15, 2015 Abeer Hoque rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“That first experience [of sex] was so painful in its ordinariness that she had spent days wanting to cry.” 

On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe is a novel about four African sex workers who by distinct and tragic means travel from their home countries to work in the red light district of Antwerp, Belgium. The story begins with Sisi, perhaps the most complicated character, who turns to prostitution because of a failure of all the options in her life, perhaps most stunningly, education - the h
...more
Ojo
Oct 11, 2016 Ojo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book made me reflect on a lot of things about Nigeria: the diversity, the peoples, the hardships and the choices and sufferings of said peoples.

The story is about the lives of four different African women, forced to trade their bodies for a better life far away from their own country, in Belgium. The sudden death of one of the women finds the other women in shock, and in the spur of the moment, they find themselves exchanging previously untold secrets and chilling, grim tales of th
...more
Wanda
Wow. I don't even know how to begin describing how amazing this book was. I'm a person who is very interested in other's backgrounds and Chika Unigwe gave me a enlightening glimpse into the past of 4 Nigerian prostitutes and what brought them all together in one of Belgium's red light districts. Their stories broke my heart, and even though this book is fiction, their's are the stories of not just African women, but stories all women can relate to regardless of our differences. Not only that, bu ...more
Jennifer
Feb 14, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-books
2.5-stars, really.
"There were worse things to become, she reminded herself. She was not a robber, not a cheat, not a 419er sending deceitful e-mails to gullible Westerners. She would make her money honestly. Every cent of it would be earned by her sweat. She did not need to enjoy her job, but she would do it well."

i am having trouble rating this novel. the issues unigwe highlights are very important, and telling these stories is important. we are given four women who have been trafficked from
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Minakshi
Mar 01, 2011 Minakshi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Black Sisters Street is Zwartezusterstraat, in the middle of Belgium's red-light district, home to four African women who have left their homeland in the naïve hope of betterment. The story begins when one of the women, Sisi, is found murdered. As her remaining co-workers and house mates, Ama, Efe and Joyce come to terms with her death, each relives their painful journey from Nigeria to Belgium to become sex workers, and how they have been brought together by Dele, a Nigerian pimp, and by "the t ...more
Yasmin
May 18, 2011 Yasmin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Literary Enthusiasts who enjoy reading books with black female protagonists
Recommended to Yasmin by: Phyllis Rhodes, Beverly Jackson
On Black Sisters Street is the story of four African females, who for various reasons, end up prostitutes in Belgiums red light district. All are chasing the dream of a better life outside their native countries in Africa. For one of them the dream will end tragically. On Black Sisters Street is a raw, provocative and riveting novel from debut author Chika Unigwe. The beginning was a little juxtaposed for me, but once I got past the first couple of chapters and began to hear the voices of Ama, J ...more
Carolyn Moncel
Jun 29, 2011 Carolyn Moncel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Living in Switzerland, stopping human trafficking is a goal for many Int'l agencies here. It's a very interesting book because the topic, though fictional, is very real. It's not just a problem in Belgium, as depicted in the story, but all across Europe, Asia, and yes, North America. The stories and circumstances for which the women find themselves are believable and very sad. The author does a good job in providing some insights into the backgrounds of these characters. If I have any criticism, ...more
Bernadette
May 01, 2011 Bernadette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like this book and I'm really torn between whether to give this a 4 or 5 star rating...It may be a cliche but really, I could not put this book down. Unigwe is a very talented the writer and I'm looking forward to more from her. This book made me sad and mad (sex trafficking will do that) but Unigwe has a gift in her ability to infuse some humor into the horrific story.

The New York Times said it better than I can: "Despite the horrors it depicts, On Black Sisters' Street is also boilin
...more
R K
May 08, 2017 R K rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75
Taking place in Belgium, On Black Sisters Street tells the story of 4 women who are in the prostitution business.

At the beginning of the book you are told of a murder. Someone the women know has died and it's the death of this person that draws the women together for the first time in years. Slowly with anger and exhaustion they reveal their stories, their upbringings and what eventually lead them to the red light district.
It was a very dark book. There isn't a bit of light thrown in but t
...more
Mandy
Mar 20, 2017 Mandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At a house on Zwarterzusterstraat in Antwerp, four very different women gather to tell their stories. All have come to Belgium from Nigeria to make their fortunes and improve the lives of their families back in Africa. In this hard-hitting novel the lives of African sex workers in Europe is presented to us with a compassionate and empathetic portrayal of what impels women to choose such a life. It’s a grim tale, but avoids the cliché of the “exploited innocent” to show that these women are not n ...more
Gladys Maina
Jun 26, 2017 Gladys Maina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a haunting book, yet so enjoyable. Leaves you with a lot of questions.
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is one of those books that hides lazy writing and cardboard characters behind a topic you can’t criticize: in this case, it’s sex trafficking. Now, if you love every book you read with tragic subject matter you should probably skip my review, but if you are looking for literary merit, then read on.

On Black Sisters Street features four women – three from Nigeria and one from Sudan – working as prostitutes in Belgium. At the beginning of the book we learn that one of them, Sisi, will be murde
...more
Elisha
4.5 stars.

First things first with this book: Trigger warning. There are multiple detailed scenes of sexual assault and it also contains other distressing and violent scenes. If you're going to read this book, be aware of that.

I think it's pretty clear that this is not a pleasant read. However, good books don't always have to be good fun. This is a very important book about issues which I would say are under-represented in literature. It follows 4 African (mostly Nigerian) women who have each esc
...more
Sara
2.5 stars. I won this book from GoodReads and thought it sounded promising - four Nigerian immigrants are thrown together in Belgium, where they've been imported to work as prostitutes, and the murder of one of them draws the other three closer together into a tight-knit sisterhood. Unfortunately, this book did not live up to its promise. I never felt as if the women were truly bonding or forming a sisterhood, and the story was so weak on the main plot that threaded everything together that it f ...more
Babydoll
Jun 01, 2011 Babydoll rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On Black Sisters Street is an eloquently written novel, that provides a vivid account of the global sex trade industry. Author Chika Unigwe depicts the numerous elements of the trade, by profiling four young African women, who each come from different backgrounds and circumstances, that bring them together in Antwerp Belgium to serve as night women. A tragic loss will transform the women as fellow work and housemates to a permanent bond of sisterhood, which delivers encouragement and strength to ...more
Lade Tawak
Parameters of happiness change

The first 40 or so pages of this book bored me to death. Reading was a drag. I wasn't into the story and it was all floating about my head. I decided to press on and not give up on it so early (mostly because I bought it myself and my friends said it was actually an enjoyable book).

I think that the transitions from past to present to past ... could have been done better. The flow wasn't very good and sometimes you're stuck wondering what is happening. Also, in some
...more
Andre
Jul 04, 2011 Andre rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ahhh, the Black boogie man is alive and well in this purported look into the sex industry. The government that allows for women to stand in windows and offer themselves to strangers, is never taken to task. The bad white men are nonexistent in this novel. But, there are black men of evil a plenty. If you are going to write from the ladies perspective, surely they have thought about ALL men involved in the industry; and a world that has taught people to value the pursuit of material over all else ...more
Carolyne
Apr 16, 2012 Carolyne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read. Loved the way Unigwe managed to tell the stories of each woman so colourfully and so vividly. This book was difficult to put down, it flowed from one page to the next. I particularly loved her deliberate and eloquent use of pidgin throughout. Even though the book focuses on a very sensitive and unsettling theme, Unigwe is able to depict a highly nuanced narrative of each character. A must-read for all lovers of contemporary African writing.
Lulu
Feb 05, 2015 Lulu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: local-library
I'm rating this as 3.5. This book started off so slow for me. I honestly felt like giving up, but I'm glad I didn't. This was a read that I won't soon forget. 4 African women who become sex workers in Belgium (3 because they feel like there is no other way out and 1 who simply did not know). We didn't really get to know the person who the book was really about, Sisi. Another 60 or so pages about Sisi and this book probably would have been 5 stars for me.
Siyamthanda Skota
- Armed with a vagina and the will to survive, she knew that destitution would never lay claim to her"

- Whoever said that money couldn't buy happiness had never experienced the relief that came from having money to spend on whatever you wanted
Rachel
Apr 06, 2017 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 stars
Eliza Bell
Mar 24, 2017 Eliza Bell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A tragic and important read
Samuel Maina
A story is told of four sisters whose life is fused together by the common place in the past that is lurking poverty and what they want to do in the present to make their future better.

The sort of dreams you have when you go to the University, then after graduating......you stay so long without a job then realise life just gave you lemons and you have to make lemonade.
I like that Unigwe tells this story so flawless it would almost be difficult to tell the transitioning from one character to the
...more
Sue Lyle
Jan 07, 2017 Sue Lyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel for our time as the African diaspora continues to move across the world to escape the poverty and lack of opportunities at home that is the post-colonial legacy. The Nigerian author researched this book among the Nigerian women in Antwerp who are modern-day sex slaves to the corrupt Dele conducting the trade in sex trafficking from Lagos and to the Belgian men who want to pay for their sexual services and the Madams who manage the brothels. The stories of the four women whose rea ...more
Kay
Oct 01, 2016 Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african
Awesome, just awesome, unpredictable and unputdownable... I can't find the words that best describe this book. I doubt if I can articulate the way I felt after I was done reading. The book is a bitter cocktail of unhappy emotions.
It’s that kind of book you can read again and even recommend to friends. This is not because it had a happy ending, as a matter of fact, the opposite is the case. The magic is in its telling.
The Author tells the ending from the beginning and leave you poring on how she
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Angela
Aug 20, 2011 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: belgium
I really don't know where to start with this book except to say the stories of these women saddens me. Their lives would unfortunately resonate with many women in the world today. Not so much the life of prostitution, but tales of last resorts.

The story brings together four women from Africa to the life of prostitution in the city of Antwerp. The story does not focus on the fact that the women are prostitutes but it gives insight into the circumstances that led them to this lifestyle. You have
...more
Catherine McNamara
Chika Unigwe's book is truly heartbreaking and full of strong authentic emotion. Skilfully, she portrays the lives of four exploited sex workers from Nigeria and the Sudan, without sinking into dogma or cliché. The continent the women leave behind is full of tragic lives riddled with loss, failure and financial burdens, and yet Unigwe also paints a portrait of loving families, cropped careers, diminished expectations - and hope. Her use of colloquial language makes the story authentic without be ...more
Imade (Bridge Four)
Very well-written book. I felt immersed in the story, and very involved in the lives of these four women, who life has crushed at every turn. The story portrays the hard & cruel realities created by gender, race and class and its victims therein. The point where Joyce/Alek narrates her rape experience, I couldn't take it anymore I was just literally screaming & tearing up. Not a happy ending, but a not a sad one either. It's just as messy as real life is.
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Chika Unigwe was born in Enugu, Nigeria, and now lives in Turnhout, Belgium, with her husband and four children. She writes in English and Dutch.

In April 2014 she was selected for the Hay Festival's Africa39 list of 39 Sub-Saharan African writers aged under 40 with potential and talent to define future trends in African literature.
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Unigwe holds a BA in English Language and Literature from the Uni
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More about Chika Unigwe...

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