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The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
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Tour d'Afrique M-Z Books 2012-16 > Shoneyin: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives | Nigeria (Tour D'Afrique) first read: Sept 2014

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message 1: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (last edited Oct 27, 2014 07:13AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Our featured selection for September and October (but will carry on through the end of the year) is The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin.

Two years ago we featured this novel as part of our Contemporary Literature project. If you wish to visit that discussion, you can find it here but please do keep current discussion as part of the Tour d'Afrique in this thread.

Happy Reading!


Laura | 264 comments Hi Ive just finished this book. I have to say I didnt at first enjoy the negative portrayal of the wives, but as the story delved deeper into the characters'own personal lives the book became more appealing. I loved the author's lyrical style and her ability to show that deapite everything even the most ugly characters have deepdown a personal history that somehow justifies their actions. Bolanle's personal voyage was particularly touching. not sure what to make of Baba Segi himself though! arrogant? self centred? plain human? His last act somehow gives him more credit than the rest of the book.


message 3: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Laura wrote: "Hi Ive just finished this book. I have to say I didnt at first enjoy the negative portrayal of the wives, but as the story delved deeper into the characters'own personal lives the book became more ..."

i will need to revisit the book (luckily i own a copy!). the thing that stuck with me was how it was not at all what i was expecting, and that i was especially struck by her humorous tone despite the...ugliness (?) of some of the stories.

i agree, Laura, this book really does a great job of getting under the surface of a person so that you can understand why they behave a certain way. but i really liked how she didn't do it all at once...the stories unfolded in a really great way. i thought the book was paced really well.


Beverly | 543 comments Marieke wrote: "Laura wrote: "Hi Ive just finished this book. I have to say I didnt at first enjoy the negative portrayal of the wives, but as the story delved deeper into the characters'own personal lives the boo..."

I agree that the book was not what I was expecting and enjoyed the writing style and enjoyed the wives stories.


Shannon I enjoyed the book,for the most part. I found the humor odd at times. I wasn't sure if some things were supposed to be funny. And the domestic violence also dulled some of the humor for me. I didn't enjoy the use of the different voices as much. Knowing the wives' backgrounds did add a lot to the story. I wonder if the same could've been accomplished in third-person narrative.


Laura | 264 comments The use of diffrent voices is quite extensive in current African novels. Adichie also uses this technique. I think it works well in this book - it struck me that this is actually what makes this book so appealing in the end. Reflecting on this, it made me think that I am too harsh in judging people at face value...the book turned it over for me especially re Iya Femi, possibly the darkest character in here. her personal circumstances dont justify her later actions but they certainly put them into a new light


Irene (reniemarie) | 4 comments Laura wrote: "Hi Ive just finished this book. I have to say I didnt at first enjoy the negative portrayal of the wives, but as the story delved deeper into the characters'own personal lives the book became more ..."

Exactly how I feel!


message 8: by N. (new) - rated it 4 stars

N. Jr. (n_lombardi_jr) | 7 comments rated it 4 stars

Although of little relevance, I thought I need to say that this story reminded me a bit of Su Tong's novella, Raise the Red Lantern, a story of a polygamous family in 1930's China, mainly due to the jealousy and rivalry between 3 wives against the 4th youngest one.

The general pace of the novel is very good, starting off in a lighter tone and getting more serious in the second half, which shows excellent writing. The idea of having the the Point of View vary in the chapters among the wives is also a artistic literary device, but because the narrative style is similar, you don't know which wife is speaking in which chapter until you are about halfway though it, and to me this was a big flaw, and the author lost a star because of this in my rating.

The satirical caricature of the polygamist Baba Segi, was very amusing and served as a wry comment on male dominance in patriarchal cultures.
All the characters are engaging and full of humor, wit, malice, spite, and even some charm as well.


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments I am planning to read this book this week = )


message 10: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Zanna wrote: "I am planning to read this book this week = )"

Zanna! just saw this on twitter:

Binyavanga Wainaina Retweeted
Lola Shoneyin ‏@lolashoneyin Oct 21

I'll be reading from & talking about Baba Segi's Wives in London at 4:30, Saturday, 24 October. Book and Kitchen, 31 All Saints Road W11.


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments awww wish I could go - well spotted!


Zanna (zannastar) | 191 comments great read = )
I've reviewed it
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


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