An English Bookshop

Stay With Me, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

In our society we raise our children to be independent and move out on their own (helicopter parenting aside). Of course, there are still family ties and communities we remain connected to. In a polygamist society, status comes from having children; the mothers/wives live together. This novel takes place in Nigeria, starting in the 1980s, just before the military conflict. We see a functioning modern society but superimposed on it is still a tribal culture with profound influence. A young, handsome, sophisticated couple,Yejide and Akin, meet in university. They agree polygamy is not for them! Four years after their marriage and still without children, their relatives arrive with Funmi, the beautiful, tall second wife. This sends Yejide, a very smart, capable business woman, to a mountaintop pulling a goat, desperate to become pregnant. Myth, culture, Africa, and political corruption are themes that intertwine in this fresh first novel. How much sacrifice can be asked for the sake of family? This is a modern question and an ancient story. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Estelle recommends:
The Secrets Between Us, Thrity Umrigar

A sequel to The Space Between Us, The Secrets Between Us does not disappoint. Umrigar picks up where The Space Between Us ends. With her vivid descriptions and smooth, flowing prose, Umrigar has the uncanny ability to make the reader part of this female-centered novel: “It isn’t the words we speak that make us who we are or even the deeds we do. It is the secrets buried in our hearts.” Set in modern Mumbai with its gleaming high rises and new marble malls intermingled with one-room, tin-roofed hovels, the novel explores the challenges of the educated middle class and the illiterate poor. After many years of service with Serabai, Bhima is forced to leave her servant job. Looking for a way to earn extra money to send her granddaughter Maya to college and end their poverty, she helps Parvati, a homeless woman with a dark, lonely past, sell produce at the market. Sharing a lifetime of stories and secrets, the two women form a business bond and ultimately a friendship that previously seemed impossible. New characters to the sequel are Sunita and Chitra, a lesbian couple for whom Bhima cleans house and forms a relationship uncommon to the Indian caste system. This splendidly-told story of determination, friendship, loyalty, and love will appeal to all readers.


David recommends:
Catch-67: The Left, the Right, and the Legacy of the Six-Day War, Micah Goodman

Newly translated into English with a new preface by the author, this engrossing book, originally published in Israel last year, shows that both sides of the divided Israeli viewpoint on whether to return some or all of the territories to the Palestinians can be right and wrong in their perspectives. Goodman is pragmatic, practical, and philosophical, and this book provides the best remedy yet to one of the world's most intractable problems.

Sandra Selects