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Black Sunday

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  3,631 ratings  ·  210 reviews
Following the fate of one family over the course of two decades in Nigeria, this debut novel tells the story of each sibling’s search for agency, love, and meaning in a society rife with hypocrisy but also endless life

“I like the idea of a god who knows what it’s like to be a twin. To have no memory of ever being alone.”

Twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike are enjoying a relati
Hardcover, 277 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Catapult
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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,631 ratings  ·  210 reviews

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I did not believe in love, in marital love, in righteous men or justice.

this book is cold and sharp, but it’s a little janky in its construction.

i’ve had a pretty good track record with nigerian fiction, so i was really looking forward to this debut, HOWEVER, while there are many positive aspects to applaud, like its compelling themes, strong writing about uncomfortable topics, and some admirably unflinching character work—rich and complex individuals with all of their flaws on display, the way
Dec 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
The novel opens in 1996, Lagos, with twin sisters, Bibike and Ariyike, somehow lost on their way home from school. They are ibeji twins, and in the Yoruba culture, considered magical, belonging to one soul. Although the story is told from the perspectives of the twins and their two brothers, it is the twins who dominate the narrative, providing the heart and soul of the novel.

For such a short novel the narrative spans almost two decades and time progresses with each chapter. In the first chapte
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Black Sunday is Tola Rotimi Abraham's debut novel, set in Lagos, Nigeria. The book follows the fate of a Nigerian family as they go from enjoying a comfortable life to falling into poverty.

Set in the 90s we meet a family of 6- mother, father, twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike and their two younger brothers-Andrew and Peter. Life for them is comfortable, they don't have much to worry about as their mother is the secretary of a political figure in Nigeria. With a change in government their mother
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
3.5⭐️ The story of four siblings in Lagos who are abandoned by their parents and live with their grandmother had some excellent voices from the four characters. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be any kind of plot.
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a great debut!
An excellent drama!
The writing is simple but terrific, and there is no use of vernacular (I know it gives authenticity but I find it distracting).
Lately I have read some books written by Nigerian authors and I’ve been really impressed.
I loved the storyline and how it was structured.
The different POV by each sibling (there are 4), who were abandoned by their parents, is skillfully written. Some parts are heartbreaking but this book is far from being overly dramatic.
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Following the fate of one family over the course of two decades in Nigeria, this debut novel tells the story of each sibling’s search for agency, love, and meaning in a society rife with hypocrisy but also endless life.
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this cleverly structured narrative following four siblings in Lagos, Nigeria. The movement between perspective and shifts in time reminded me a little of that structure in Homegoing, though we kept returning to each of the siblings as time advanced in this one. In terms of plot, I loved how "full circle" the narrative was and did not see at all how things would be wrapped up (always love being surprised by a narrative!). I think I enjoyed reading Ariyike's chapters the most, bas ...more
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Black Sunday is a powerhouse of postcolonial feminist literature and a devastatingly deft coming-of-age tale, set against the humid backdrop of Lagos, Nigeria, charting both the country and a family's evolution from 1996-2015. Tola Rotimi Abraham’s debut novel follows twin girls and their brothers through abject poverty, abandonment, and loss, as they lose everything but each other. Once their mother loses her job and their father makes a “bet” that leaves them penniless, all four siblings are s ...more
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is a common mistake, to hear a story about tragedy and disbelieve it because the telling is off. We think to ourselves, how does the storyteller know this? We are asking the wrong question. The right question, is why is the storyteller telling me this story? Because I was a child, I heard this story about a village full of mothers and the great loss they suffered and assumed it was a story about the pain of a child. Now, as a woman, I know the story is not about lost children. Children move f ...more
Robin Malik
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Black Sunday started out really strong and I got the feeling that I was settling into a really good book. Sadly, I quickly lost interest. There were some absolutely brilliant nuggets in this book but on balance, everything seemed disjointed. I thought the book had too much going on. Many different topics were covered in a cursory manner- without the detail and depth required to present these topics in a meaningful and impactful way. I felt like every time something happened to a character, it wa ...more
Lauren Mendez
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-books-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katherine D. Morgan
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
CW: sexual assault

I finished this book two days and I still can’t figure out how I feel about it. It’s a very depressing book: I can’t even tell you if there’s a happy ending in it or not. I honestly don’t even know. There’s also a lot of sexual assault aspects to it. Like, a lot. And that made me extremely uncomfortable because I wasn’t expecting it. Honestly, this book rocked me. The writer did an excellent job. Just read with caution.
Starting in 1996, Lagos, Nigeria, we follow the lives of twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike as their lives are turned upside down due to the family's financial situation changing. The sisters and their two younger brothers are eventually abandoned on the doorstep of their grandmother, and more or less have to fend for themselves.

There were parts of this book I really loved such as the general setting of Lagos, Nigeria, and a look into a culture that is so different and colourful to the one I grew u
Aug 04, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5= This is the story of four Nigerian siblings growing up as they go from riches to rags and abandonment by their parents.

The story alternates between each sibling’s perspective as time progresses. This was a really good way to keep everyone involved in the story, but the chapters at time felt rushed, leaving unanswered questions. Overall it is a good story with beautiful prose.
We meet Bibike and Ariyike as twin girls who've only recently entered their teenage years. While their family wouldn't be considered rich, they are comfortable--which is to say they have adequate shelter, consistent food on the table, and no real worries about their day-to-day lives.

However, when their mother is fired from an esteemed government job, and forced into taking a lower-paying one, their fortunes take a turn for the worse; eventually leading to their father taking a big gamble on wha
Neha Sharma
Jun 10, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

I am a big fan of African fiction and I really enjoyed this book. It was unputdownable. I would have given it a four-star rating, but I couldn't ignore the fact that the narration, the time jump in between chapters, and some sentences were really disorienting. The story doesn't have a concrete and well-defined plot arc either. However, the characterization is powerful. I am still not sure about Bibike's character, but Ariyike was a brilliantly written character.

The story is narrated by
Dec 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
Black Sunday’s originally episodic family saga makes Tola Rotini Abraham’s debut both stand out and detracts from a more powerfully hitting story. Set in Lagos, Nigeria, Black Sunday follows four siblings, two girls and two boys, from childhood to adulthood, as they grow up, overcome setbacks, and try to find their place in the world.

This is another great choice from the Aspen Words Literature prize that I would have otherwise not come across, and I appreciate Black Sunday introducing
Erin Ryan
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Thank you to NetGalley and Canongate for an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Black Sunday is an incredibly intimate work of literary fiction, it was such an enjoyable reading experience. The writing was so raw and moving, and the characters were so incredibly fleshed out and it all felt so real. I think that Tola Rotimi Abraham's writing style is incredible, and I can't wait to see more writing from them. The two covers for this book that I've seen are both equally gorgeous a
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I found this book very thought-provoking and haunting. The richness of this novel is not the storyline, but the circumstances and its implication on the characters.

But as set up... the story is based in Nigeria, mostly Lagos. A family of 6, mother, father, twin girls and two younger boys. Seemingly middle class when the story begins... the father loses their house and they are forced to go live with the parental grandmother. Shortly after the move, the mother and father abandon the childre
Reviews May Vary
A growing up story told from the POV of 4 siblings after their mother leaves them, then their father leaves them, and then they are figuring out how to be adults.
Feb 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020_read
I'd give this book a solid 3. I liked it and I never wanted to stop reading, but by the time I reached the end I felt two things: 1. there were too many people and things left to the imagination. That is, too many storylines with loose ends for my liking. 2. I wished that the author had given me more where the twins are concerned - that is, allowed me to like them more, or care more about what happens to them next.

Having said that, this book packs a powerful punch. It's not light reading. There'
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
EXQUISITE. I inhaled this book. It was haunting and heartbreaking and I just couldn't peel my eyes away. I live for reading experiences like these - where the sheer quality of a work and its storyline both pull me in so forcefully. I will say though that this book is pretty bleak and contains a considerable amount of sexual assault, more than I was prepared to stomach and far more than I thought necessary. Otherwise, it is a triumph of a debut. ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting story or should I say stories. The chapters are divided up and told by a set of African twin girls and their 2 younger brothers. The children talk about their lives, after being abandoned by their parents, as they themselves age. I found this book to be quite entertaining and will definitely be rereading it, at some point. I listened to the audiobook, while following along with the print version.
Jul 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Four siblings lose their parents, fall from middle class comfort, and face life in turn-of-the-21st-century Lagos, including (for the twin sisters) misogyny in many forms. A strong debut with excellent writing and one very nice plot twist. I especially liked the way Abraham incorporated Yoruba folk tales.




DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley and Canongate Books for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham is a West-African literary fiction set in Lagos. I requested this book primarily because of the cover. That cover drew me in, and once I read the synopsis I was intrigued by it. The story is told from the POVs of the 4 siblings who were left by their mot
Resh (The Book Satchel)
Black Sunday is Tola Rotimi Abraham's debut novel.

Setting :
The book follows a family of six - mother, father, twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike and two younger brothers-Andrew and Peter. Set in the 90s in Lagos, Nigeris, and told from the POV of the four children- Bibike, Ariyike, Andrew and Peter over two decades.

It follows the decline of a family. The mother loses her job as a secretary of a political figure. The father isn't a very practical man and uses the house as a collateral for a scheme
Feb 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Although this was a quick read, it was not an easy read for me. This is not a happy story, and was tough for me to read, and I’m not sure how to review this. I’ve read a lot of novels in recent years coming from African writers, and have enjoyed most of them. This is a different kind of novel, and it’s getting a lot of good press, and it is an interesting debut for this author. But honestly, I had a hard time connecting with it, and I’m not sure why. I found it rather incessantly depressing, whi ...more
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
“I think families who spend a lot of time arguing about the small stuff do it because they do not have the courage to talk about the big things.”

i don't really wanna talk about this at length because i obviously didn't like it and i feel really bad about it. i wish i wouldn't have had such a hard time reading this because the topics are extremely important and i like to be out of my western comfort zone with books. but while the general thoughts of Black Sunday were great, i really felt like th
It's very on brand for me to say I wish we had only had the female POVs in this novel and that the male POVs had been left out, but...hey, I gotta be me. And the brothers were neither all that interesting nor all that distinct from each other, so I didn't feel that their chapters added much value to the overall story, which clearly belongs to the sisters.

This is an incredibly emotionally harrowing story, one that makes you understand the characters' choices even if you simultaneously recoil from
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Play Book Tag: Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham - 3 stars 1 4 Dec 27, 2020 05:39PM  

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“I think families who spend a lot of time arguing about the small stuff do it because they do not have the courage to talk about the big things.” 0 likes
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