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Nov 28

Reviews and discussion questions for Girl, Woman, Other are listed along with links to key places and things relevant to the story. • Girl, Woman, Other is published by Hamish Hamilton (£16.99). Membership is free & gives you access to book giveaways, author chats & your private, free book club page. To order a copy go to or call 0330 333 6846. God O continue de place everybody for dis world and belle go continue to dey sweet everybody, hallelujah! She is Anglo-Nigerian and the author of eight distinguished books. the more she asked, the more she understood she must do what Augustine was himself too weak to do, she was going to become someone who employed others, rather than someone waiting to be employed, she was going to become the proprietor of her own cleaning company, which would be an Equal Opportunities Employer, like all other cleaning companies, she wished Augustine was around to share the joke, that night she dreamed of employing an army of women cleaners who would set forth across the planet on a mission to clean up all the damage done to the environment, they came from all over Africa and from North and South America, they came from India and China and all over Asia, they came from Europe and the Middle East, from Oceania, and from the Arctic, too, she imagined them all descending in their millions on the Niger Delta and driving out the oil companies with their mop and broom handles transformed into spears and poison-tipped swords and machine-guns, she imagined them demolishing all the equipment used for oil production, including the flare stacks that rose into the skies to burn the natural gas, her cleaners setting charges underneath each one, detonating from a safe distance and watching them being blown up, she imagined the local people cheering and celebrating with dancing, drumming and roasted fish, she imagined the international media filming it—CNN, BBC, NBC, she imagined the government unable to mobilize the poorly paid local militia because they were terrified by the sheer numbers of her Worldwide Army of Women Cleaners, who could vaporize them with their superhuman powers, afterwards, she imagined legions of singing women sifting the rivers and creeks to remove the thick slicks of grease that had polluted them, and digging up the land until they’d removed the toxic sublayers of soil, she imagined the skies opening when the job was done and the pouring of pure water from the now hygienic clouds for as long as it took for the region to be thoroughly cleansed and replenished, she imagined her father, Moses, a simple fisherman, steering his canoe through the transparent waters of the creeks, a man who was still supporting his family in the dignified tradition of their ancestors, she imagined her mama, in good health, taking it easy while farmhands looked after their land, which had not been stolen by his relatives because Moses had not died, she imagined Augustine, a Green Finance Economist coming up the garden path of their house wearing a business suit and with a smart briefcase, returning from chairing his latest Economics and the Environment conference at the United Nations in Geneva or New York, Bummi needed an injection of cash for driving lessons and other start-up costs; what to do when everybody she knew was living hand to mouth, except for Bishop Aderami Obi of her church, who started to behave differently towards her after Augustine died, who began to visually gorge upon her body whenever he saw her, like she was the first course, main course and dessert merged into one, when he talked, it was to the bountiful breasts Augustine had worshipped, when he put a reassuring arm around her after church, he slid his hand lightly down her back, sweeping it over her buttocks so slyly nobody else would notice, when she tried to move out of his way, he pressed closer to her, Bishop Obi was a rich man, a powerful man, his congregation of 2,000 bestowed upon him the gift of omnipotence in his bidding to do God’s work on earth, and he behaved as if it was his right to pester his female parishioners, in which case, it was her right to ask him to loan her the money to start her business, had they not paid a tithe of 10% of their monthly conjoined income into his begging bowl for many years? Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Created by Grove Atlantic and Electric Literature, Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window), the space once occupied by God was now hollow, she imagined legions of singing women sifting the rivers and creeks to remove the thick slicks of grease that had polluted them, Announcing the Shortlist for Reading Women's Nonfiction Award. Bummi and Augustine migrated to Britain where he again could not find work befitting his qualifications, he settled into the seat of a minicab until he had saved enough money to set himself up in business (import-export), and researched trade possibilities between Britain and West Africa via the sweatshops of Turkey, Indonesia and Bangladesh, sadly, London was more expensive than he had imagined, saving was impossible and when the Nigerian economy went on a downturn, he had to send cash transfers back home, Bummi and Augustine agreed they were wrong to believe that in England, at least, working hard and dreaming big was one step away from achieving it, Augustine joked he was acquiring a second doctorate in shortcuts, bottlenecks, one-way streets and dead ends, while transporting passengers who thought themselves far too superior to talk to him as an equal, Bummi complained that people viewed her through what she did (a cleaner) and not what she was (an educated woman), they did not know that curled up inside her was a parchment certificate proclaiming her a graduate of the Department of Mathematics, University of Ibadan, just as she did not know that when she strode on to the graduation podium in front of hundreds of people to receive her ribboned scroll, and shake hands with the Chancellor of the University, that her first class degree from a Third World country would mean nothing in her new country, especially with her name and nationality attached to it, and that job rejections would arrive in the post with such regularity she would ritualistically burn them in the kitchen sink, and watch them turn to ash to be washed down the plughole, which is why when their daughter was born, they named her Carole without a Nigerian middle name, Augustine worked nights, collapsed fully clothed on to their bed, smelling of the cigarettes he smoked all day and the can of extra stout he drank when he got home, to join her tribe of bleary-eyed workers who emerged into the dimmed streetlights of her new city to clamber aboard the red double-decker buses that ploughed the empty streets, she sat in sleepy silence with others who had hoped for a better life in this country, huddled in her eiderdown jacket in winter, her feet in padded boots, longing to sleep, afraid to miss the stop for the office building where she scraped away hardened faecal matter in toilet bowls and disinfected everything that came into contact with human waste, where she hoovered up dead skin cells into vacuumed fluff, mopped and polished floors, emptied paper baskets and rubbish bins, cleaned keyboards and wiped down monitors, polished desks and shelves and generally made sure everything was spotless and dust free, striving to do her best, even if her job was not, Augustine said the least he could do was be a good father to Carole, as his mother continued to advise him by letter, do not be distant, authoritarian and uncommunicative, my son, be close to your daughter when young and you will remain so when she is older, Bummi loved seeing her husband play rough-and-tumble with Carole, pretending he was a horse as she rode on his back for hours, she loved it when he made Carole a doll’s house from market crates, painting it, furnishing it with cardboard furniture, making dolls from pegs—what an exceptional man he was, she felt sad when he said to her one day, if we cannot make it here, perhaps our child will, dear Augustine, who died of a heart attack while driving over Westminster Bridge transporting drunken partygoers in the early hours of New Year’s Day, after too many unbroken nights with junk food on the go, doubling his salary in the busiest period of the year while halving, his already unknowingly, genetically, chronically heart-diseased life, Bummi lost her Faith the minute she walked into the Chapel of Rest and saw her beloved Augustine lying there in body only, his brown complexion was drained of life and tinged with grey, his mouth was forcibly closed, his jaw clenched shut, as if pinned together, he did not open his eyes when she entered to look lovingly at her, he did not hear her when she spoke to him, he did not hold or soothe her when she sobbed, she decided there was no great spiritual being watching over her, protecting her and the people she loved, Bummi went through the motions of going to her church, the Ministry of God, it was expected, she found solace with her friends there, but she no longer believed any of the words that came out of her mouth in prayer or psalms or hymns, the space once occupied by God was now hollow, and with no god to promise everlasting salvation, it hit her hard how much she was on her own, and how she and Augustine had been trapped in a despair that had paralyzed their ability to snap out of it, devastated by the weight of a rejection that had not been part of their dreams of migration.

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