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Wake Me When I'm Gone

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  76 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Everyone says that Ese is the most beautiful woman in the region, but a fool. A young widow, she lives in a village, where the crops grow tall and the people are ruled over by a Chief on a white horse. She married for love, but now her husband is dead, leaving her with nothing but a market stall and a young son to feed.

When the Chief knocks on Ese's door demanding that she
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published August 3rd 2017 by Canongate
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Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
This was a very simple yet profound novel. I did not expect to fall in love with this as much I did!
If you are looking for a diverse novel to learn more about Nigerian culture from a Nigerian writer look no further!!
Here we meet a woman who is widowed; with her young son to look after in a Nigerian village.
Soon the Chief of the village pursued her in order to marry her - she refuses. What follows is the story of one woman learning to stand up for herself and other woman; and what can happen whe
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
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Wake Me When I'm Gone tells the story of Ese, widowed and bringing up her young son, Noah, alone. The language is simple and straightforward, almost in the manner of a fable, and the sense that the reader is listening to a story is enhanced by the first-person narrative. There is a timeless quality to the tale being told, although from the mention of items like
Breakaway Reviewers
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written story about traditions and life in a small Nigerian village.

Ese is a young widow living in a tiny Nigerian village bringing up her young son, Noah, alone. Her only income is a market stall but through hard work, she is making a success of her life despite her sorrow. Her main joy is her son who she is bringing up to be a caring and considerate man.

Her whole life is shattered when the chief of the village determines to make her one of his many wives. Ese married for love an
Sinead (Huntress of Diverse Books)
Check out my book blog for more book reviews and other bookish posts!

I received an ARC of Wake Me When I’m Gone from Netgalley. I decided to request this book mainly because of the cover. However, the blurb itself was also quite intriguing.

This book is #ownvoices for Nigerian representation.


Ese is an interesting main character. Her experiences and the people around her lead to her starting to question some of the customs in her village, which leads to her standing up for herself and trying to
Jenny Cooper
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
This book tells the story of Ese, a beautiful Nigerian woman who lives in a tiny rural community. When her husband is tragically killed in a farming accident, Ese and her son are expected to conform to the cultural traditions which dictate how widows and their offspring should behave. These “laws” are enforcable by the Chief and the High Priests who prey on the fears of the local people, fears which are based on superstitions, stories that have been passed down through the generations and religi ...more
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Uplifting story of how good can overcome many obstacles. Ese is a strong, independent mother and widow, who brings up her son to fight the road to freedom. A story of tragedy and sadness but also shows how people can find remarkable strength when they are rock bottom.
Thoroughly enjoyable easy read
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wake Me When I'm Gone has the feeling of a fairy tale, or a fable. It's the story of a young widow called Ese who lives with her son in a small Nigerian village. When tragedy strikes and she loses everything she knows, she has to find the courage to start again and to protect those who need her help.

Odafe Atogun writes in a direct style, with a sense of timelessness about it. It's a story with a clear moral message which is, nevertheless, never intrusive. It won't change your life, but it would
Feb 13, 2018 rated it liked it
A very quick read. I think the story is a parable. If it is a parable, I can understand why the unlikely situations arose. If it isn't, the implausibility of the situations was a little distracting. The writing style was quite detached - consequently, I didn't care about Ese's tribulations.
The novel tells the story of Ese, an independent woman’s struggle against an oppressive, patriarchal regime.

Set in a secluded, authoritarian Nigerian village, the novel looks at how tradition and conservatism gets in the way of morality.

However, despite the setting and themes being something that interest me I didn't enjoy the book. I wasn't won over by the author's writing and the magical realism felt flat.
Daniela Oliveira
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is a quick read.
Pro: (Single mother) Ese’s resilience, hope and love for her son Noah lead me to believe “Wake Me When I’m Gone” is a parable as we learn that love and hope are what help Ese overcome hardships.

Con: Although a realistic fiction, I was often distracted by the improbability of the events that occurred consecutively. The lack of detail limits the readers imagination and I failed to empathise with the characters as there was a sense of detachment between author and characters.
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A powerful novel - about grief, love, motherhood and breaking the rules.

I found Ese’s story, although sad at times, ultimately uplifting with its message that good can come out of tragedy and a person’s legacy can persist long after they are gone. I really enjoyed this book: for the story, the insight it provides into Nigerian customs and traditions, and its simple, graceful prose. I will definitely seek out the author’s first book, Taduno’s Song.
P.D.R. Lindsay
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pleasant-reads
This short novel - novella? - is an interesting mix of fable, myth and folklore. Set in Africa and told in the manner of a tale around the campfire it makes for a pleasant read. We are happy when beautiful Ese finally succeeds and some of the traditional laws are changed.

A nice simple tale, an easy read and one for the book club.
Feb 19, 2018 rated it liked it
How to deal with PTSD with unrealistic mood upliftings. Despite the total lack of truthful representation of depression and suffering, this is a very entertaining read, a beautiful story about a strong, fierce mother, and the power of love.
Teddy Waining
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting fireside style to the story which fits well with the storyline. Story goes at a good pace and maintains your interest whilst giving you a glimpse into another culture.
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Born in Nigeria, Odafe Atogun is a writer who draws inspiration from his African society to create a unique and colourful world where humankind is consumed by a common desire for change. World rights to his debut novel, Taduno’s Song, were acquired by Canongate, who published the UK edition in 2016. It has also been published in the US by Penguin Random House, in Nigeria by Ouida Books and transla ...more
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