Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun” as Want to Read:
Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,029 ratings  ·  216 reviews
Morayo Da Silva, a cosmopolitan Nigerian woman, lives in hip San Francisco. On the cusp of seventy-five, she is in good health and makes the most of it, enjoying road trips in her vintage Porsche, chatting to strangers, and recollecting characters from her favourite novels. Then she has a fall and her independence crumbles. Without the support of family, she relies on frie ...more
Paperback, 118 pages
Published April 1st 2016 by Cassava Republic Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,029 ratings  ·  216 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Retired English professor Morayo Da Silva, of Nigerian descent, lived in a rent-controlled, sub-divided house in San Francisco. Feisty and unconventional, she drove "Buttercup" her Porsche. Approaching her 75th birthday, she embraced her yearly tradition of buying new shoes and trying something daring, a tattoo perhaps?

A young Morayo married an ambassador and traveled the world. After her divorce, she became a university professor. Upon retirement, her books became her literary friends and she o
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an exceptional novella. My only complaint is I wanted it to be longer. I could have read about Morayo for hundreds of pages. She is a fascinating protagonist. She on the verge of her 75th birthday but she is anything but old. She wears toe rings and she has a tradition on birthdays of doing something new. This year she is planning a tattoo. She is also planning her party and in the midst of that she suffers a fall and has to go to an elderly care home. As you can imagine she doesn't exac ...more
Jun 18, 2019 rated it liked it
This promising novella follows a few days in the life of 75 year old Moraya Da Silva -a stylish, independent, former English professor. There were moments when I was delighted with Moraya and the literary references. But this little novel spreads itself too thin. Chapters are devoted to half a dozen characters - at 118 pages it loses focus and loses its charm.
K.J. Charles
A character piece about a 75yo Nigerian woman living in San Francisco, coping with the ills flesh is heir to, meeting people as she goes about her business, reflecting on her life. There isn't a plot as such: it's a series of character voices (which are not well distinguished by the formatting in my epub copy, but it was clear enough).

It's well written and highly readable, and the characterisation is terrific as are the various voices, but as a highly plot-driven reader I did feel the lack of n
lark benobi
Aug 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
The word that keeps coming up in my head to describe this novella is "well-intentioned." It feels unfortunate to me that, in terms of literary reviews at least, "well-intentioned" is usually meant as a pejorative. Just now I don't mean it that way. I was thankful to the author for extending such graciousness and respect to both her characters and her readers. This is a very kind story--kind to its characters, and kind to its readers. The author treats her elderly protagonist with deep respect. T ...more
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it

More like 3.5 stars.
Decent, really easy-going novella centered around 75 y/o Dr. Morayo, who’s a retired Literature professor. You’d never believe Morayo’s a senior citizen as she carries herself as if she’s in her 40’s - she dances, enjoys music, wants a tattoo, has perfect memory, has a healthy sexual appetite, still drives her Porsche, has lots and lots of books that occupy her time, is childless (and not broken by it) - Morayo is basically old la
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
What a fabulous title! The positives stop there, alas. This novella about a colorful 75-year-old Nigerian-American lady social-butterflying her way around San Francisco should have been right up my alley, but the bland prose—the literary equivalent of journal entries—and the ridiculous number of other characters brought in, adding pretty much zilch to the story, amounted to a huge disappointment. Enjoy the title: skip the book.
Paul Fulcher
Sep 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, goldsmiths-2016
I read this novel following its inclusion on the very strong 2016 shortlist for the wonderful Goldsmith's Prize, and have reviewed it accordingly.

The Goldsmith's Prize focuses on fiction at it's most novel. In that regard, Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun doesn't, it must be said, significantly stretch the form of the novel, but rather the subject matter.

The title of the novel comes from the poem Donkey On by Mary Ruefle

"When I am alone I make a sound
the lord does not understand.
Then he
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, 2016-goldsmiths
This novel is only 94 pages long, but it packs a lot into those 94 pages. It was only really as I finished it and thought back over it that I realised it is full of interesting characters and we get to hear from quite a few of them as the book switches narrators several times. It feels like there is a lot more in it than should really fit into 94 pages.

The main narrator, and the subject of passages narrated by others, is an elderly Nigerian woman. She is what would be known in my household as a
Jessica Jeffers
Apr 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a lovely little novella about Morayo, an older Nigerian woman living in San Francisco who experiences a fall, goes to an assisted care home to recover, and muses on the friendships that she relies on in the absences of a nuclear family close to her.

This is not really a book about a plot, it's more of a character study. It's almost Woolfian in its stream-of-consciousness style, but we get the points of view of not just Morayo, but also the Palestinian shopkeeper she befriends, her neighb
Gumble's Yard
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
The key character is Dr Morayo Da Silva, an elderly Nigerian emigrant living in San Francisco – ex-wife of a Nigerian ambassador who subsequently fell in love with a Brazilian cultural attaché, then a professor of literature and still a voracious reader (and re-writer of books – both in style and to explore alternate and more positive endings for female characters). Her once poor but otherwise idyllic home town in Nigeria is now the scene of religious massacres. She still sees herself as young, ...more
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-lit
Update: I read this a second time around and loved it even more. Upgraded to the full 5 stars ;)

This was my first novella so I didn't know what to expect from the format. It's safe to say that this was a lovely introduction. Sarah packs so much life & personality into her characters in so few pages, I felt like I had gotten to know them over a longer period of time than I actually did. She is a master of descriptions and setting the scene. I'm withholding one star because I wish we got to hear m
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
As I primarily read this (indeed, would undoubtedly have never known of its existence otherwise), due to its inclusion in this year's Goldsmiths Prize nominees, given for innovation in the novel form, I can't say I found it all that different in structure (as multiple first person narrators have been around for quite some time). What IS different is the main character, who is a delightful older Nigerian woman coming to terms with her encroaching old age, but maintaining her feisty zest for life ...more
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Like a Mule is a beautifully crafted novella about ageing and loss of control.

Dr Morayo Da Silva is an elderly Nigerian woman, living in San Francisco after a lifetime of reading, exploration and a failed marriage to a diplomat. She is wealthy and classy. She is used to being in control and tends to look disdainfully on those who lack her sophistication. Morayo is kind, yes, but also deeply judgemental. So it is a shock to her system to find herself in hospital, dependent on the kindness of thos
Sola Oluwole
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A reading of an extract of this novel created an anticipation for more, an expectation of an enjoyable afternoon getting to know Dr Morayo Da Silva. As such rather than wait for a soft copy, I hastened to purchase a Nook version.
My expectation was more than met. Sarah Ladipo Manyika, thank you for introducing us to Dr Morayo. On a number of levels, I found this spritely, adventurous, effusive and irreverent 74 year old lady a character with traits that I would love to inculcate into my own life
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was definitely a pleasant read. A contemplative book that centers the experience of Morayo Da Silva, a Nigerian who is in her seventies living in San Francisco, amongst the narratives of the people she crosses paths with. It was a unique experience reading a book that is primarily character-driven, especially one that is elderly & contemplating what it means to age and lose one's independence. If Morayo hadn't been a vibrant character with reflections that were engaging and perspectives tha ...more
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
magnificent. i feel like i've just read lord of the flies when it just came out and nobody has heard of it, knowing that it's magnificent and important and new. Being put in someone else's shoes, experiencing a life that is not your own, and understanding that life, this is why i read fiction.
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Maybe Morayo is writing about life ending. But i think, maybe she is writing about life beginning?
Una mujer vieja - still sexy without being pathetic. An incredibly difficult line to figure out, much less. Happy living with her books and papers and memories; surrounded by (the old) San Francisco of tolerance and real diversity, the one in Tales of the City. (That also, sadly, now a memory).

But now our protagonista is writing a love song to San Francisco - as it was:

“Besides, this is a city w
(3.5) Morayo Da Silva is an unlikely heroine: soon to turn 75, she’s a former English professor from Nigeria who hopped between countries with her ambassador husband but now lives alone in San Francisco. As she goes about her errands, planning her birthday and buying flowers for herself (I was right to think of Mrs. Dalloway, whom Manyika references directly on the top of page 22), Morayo gives us glimpses into her past, including her affair with Antonio. The first-person narration switches arou ...more
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes sheer simplicity can be powerful. In the case of Like a Mule.. this economy works in the book’s favour. Ladipo Manyika uses sparse sentences and simple language to convey her message. Yet she adds digressions to the narrative which gives the novel some complexity. In the process the book has a memorable main protagonist.

Meet Morayo da Silva. She takes no bullshit, can be outspoken, has a temper and is now living life to the full. Oh, she’s also 75 years old and like her Mrs. Dalloway s
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun is a beautiful short novel with one of the most endearing protagonist I have read all year. When I reflected on what this book was about I said to myself “Life has limits but to really live is to know you are limitless.”
Lynne Spreen
You can tell from the cover and whimsical title this book is colorful. Morayo, the main character, is 75. I was excited about that alone, because I'm always looking for books that show us how to live in older age. So few books about this age group. Morayo has a fascinating background, and it was enjoyable just reading about her experiences as a diplomat's wife. She's strong, sensual, playful, dignified, and fully alive! I felt inspired after reading it. What a woman, what a life. The theme of th ...more
Gail Wylde
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. I entered as I loved the title and I was not disappointed. I loved the lead character Morayo, she is an active almost 75year old who has a fall and loses some of her independence. I am not yet near 75 yet but she has put my life into perspective and made me realise I would like to have the energy and independence that she has. Her voice is in my ear when I think I can't be bothered so thank you. (I have introduced some brighter clothes into my wardro ...more
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: america, africa
That was lovely. It’s a slight book, but it doesn’t feel like that as you read. I’m surprised by how much insight she managed to pack into so few pages. It was refreshing to have an older independent woman as a narrator - you don’t see much of that.
Muthoni Muiruri
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I started this book, I was looking forward to and excited for an intricate plot. My ‘wisdom’ has over the years had me believing that any good book should have a solid plot, which has seen me down grade some book ratings to 2 stars due to in my opinion, missing, inconsistent or non-existent plots. I am however beginning to appreciate that not all books are plot-driven. Some books are there to teach you something, reveal something, divert the course of your thinking, help you unlearn or rele ...more
Apr 08, 2016 rated it really liked it

I really enjoyed this book. I loved that it gave a voice to an under-represented member of society (the elderly) and it was a really strong, authentic, honest voice.

The narrative dips between the past and present seamlessly. With relatively little action or interaction, especially in the first few chapters, this novel could have easily become quite a boring read, but it didn’t because of the strength of the protagonist’s voice.

*Spoilers Below*

Dr Morayo Da Silva, a Nigerian woman living in San
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it
"Madness. I think to myself. It's madness here, madness. Madness. Old age is a massacre. No place for sissies. No place for love songs. No place for dreaming. No place for dreaming erotic dreams about a man half my age. And because I'm distracted, I'm slow to notice what's going on around me until an angry voice draws me back."

After finishing this yesterday I wavered between 3 and 4 stars all day. In the clear morning light, I've given it 3.
What a heart-full tale of interconnection and insights
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Trust me on this - you want to read this book!

You want to meet the divine Dr Morayo, with her vivid, albeit slightly unusual love for books, her memories of a long life filled with passion, love, grief, hurt and joy, and her relationships with a handful of equally complex and unforgettable people. Her liveliness and joie de vivre is simply breath taking! One of the most memorable literary characters I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

Interspersed in the story are also issues regarding old age
Zainab Sulaiman
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
What a wonderful look into what it’s like to be past retirement age from the perspective of a Nigerian woman living abroad. The main character, Morayo is hilarious and offers a tender recount of her past (and what little is left of her future) as she approaches her 75th birthday. I really liked this one. Three stars only because I felt the ending was rushed, the book is quite short.
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-harder-2018
Read Harder 2018: female protagonist over 60

This is a lovely little novel. The writing has a beautiful simplicity and offers profound truths without overplaying or over explaining them.

I liked Morayo, the main character, and the way the book doesn’t really have an ending. The author seems to trust the reader to fill in the many things left unsaid.

Worth reading!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Born on a Tuesday
  • Season of Crimson Blossoms
  • The Murders Near Mapleton
  • Blackass
  • The Hundred Wells of Salaga
  • Der Sprung
  • She Called Me Woman
  • Let's Tell This Story Properly
  • Feminism, Interrupted: Disrupting Power
  • A Small Silence
  • La femme qui ne vieillissait pas
  • Tomorrow Died Yesterday
  • The Spider King's Daughter
  • The Hairdresser of Harare
  • Funny Men Cannot Be Trusted: Poetry For People Who Hate Poetry III
  • Marianengraben
  • Becoming Nigerian: A Guide
See similar books…
Sarah Ladipo Manyika was raised in Nigeria and has lived in Kenya, France, and England. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and for several years taught literature at San Francisco State University. Sarah currently serves on the boards of Hedgebrook and the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. Sarah is a Patron of the Etisalat Prize for Literature and host to ...more

Related Articles

Emma Straub was all set to spend May on tour promoting her new novel, All Adults Here. Instead, due to the global pandemic, the Brooklyn-based auth...
14 likes · 5 comments
“Now the books are arranged according to which characters I believe ought to be talking to each other. That’s” 4 likes
“Det er derfor Heart of Darkness står ved siden af Le Regard du Roi, og Wide Sargasso Sea står lige ovenover Jane Eyre. De to sidstnævnte stod før i tiden ved siden af hinanden, men så besluttede jeg, at det var bedre at rette op på den gamle koloniale ubalance ved at give Rhys overtaget – altså den øverste hylde” 0 likes
More quotes…