Ayòbámi Adébáyò returns with “A Spell of Good Things” 6 years after acclaimed debut “Stay With Me”

Six years after her acclaimed debut Stay With Me, Ayòbámi Adébáyò is back with a novel that shines a light on the social inequalities of her homeland. 

According to a Guardian article, the novel published by Canongate, deals with political corruption, social injustice and domestic violence with a big cast of characters, and is charged with an explosive satirical energy as it brings the personal and the political crashing together.

Ayòbámi Adébáyò, the article states, was in her early 20s when the bus she was travelling on from her job in an engineering institute took a detour to avoid rush-hour traffic in the Nigerian city of Ife where she was astonished at the squalor she saw in the impoverished neighbourhood she was exploring for the first time.

“I remember being astonished that it was there. This was a city I’d been living in since I was about eight and I didn’t know anything about it at all,” she says. The writer took the memory with her when, shortly afterwards, she flew out to the UK to embark on a new life as a writer.

The ramshackle district, so different from the one in which she had grown up as the daughter of a hospital doctor, gave her a setting for one strand of the second novel that fans of her bestselling debut Stay With Me have spent six long years waiting for. A Spell of Good Things is also set in a different period of Nigerian history – not the military dictatorship of the early 1980s under which the troubled marriage of Yejide and Akin plays out in Stay With Me, but in the chaos of a newly restored democracy in the early years of the new millennium. In one strand, the family of a young boy called Eniolá struggle to survive after his history teacher father loses his livelihood, and his mental health, to devastating cost-cutting layoffs in schools. In another – informed by the experiences of Adébáyò’s own sister as an overworked junior doctor – Wúraolá, the daughter of a wealthy family, attempts to square her parents’ traditional expectations with the life of a modern career woman. Their paths cross in a tailor’s shop where Eniolá sweeps the floors and Wúraolá’s glamorous mother sweeps in to arrange the dresses for her daughter’s betrothal ceremony.


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