Sunday, 23 June 2019

Twisted Sister

At this year's Sydney Writers' Festival I attended a session with Nigerian author Oyinkan Braithwaite about her debut novel, My Sister, the Serial Killer (2018).  I so enjoyed the excerpts Braithwaite read from her book, and her journey as a writer, that I purchased a copy and quickly read it after the festival.

This is the story of two sisters and their strong familial ties. Korede, the narrator, is a nurse with a responsible job and a devoted commitment to her family. At the hospital where she works, Korede confides in a comatose patient and secretly yearns for Tade, a handsome doctor. Her self-absorbed sister Ayoola is impossibly beautiful and has the habit of ending relationships with murder.

The novel begins with a distress call in which Korede is required to attend to her sister. Ayoola has killed her boyfriend and needs Korede's help to clean up the mess. Korede is calm and methodical, after all this is not the first time she has helped her sister in this way.

Korede is an enabler, refusing to turn her sister in for her crimes, and becoming an accomplice in the aftermath. But when Ayoola meets Tade, Korede is fearful that the pattern will continue and she  must decide where her loyalties lie.

I really enjoyed this novel with its dark comedy and contemporary pop culture references. It is not a crime thriller, rather a noir family drama with morbid undertones. Braithwaite writes in short, sharp chapters, which gives the story momentum and encourages binge reading. I can't wait to see what she writes next.

My Sister, the Serial Killer was shortlisted for the Women's Prize.