Father was a loud man. I could hear him shouting from the neighbors’ apartment, where he argued about football with Dr. Adeshina and drank so much Remy Martin that he could not stand up properly. I could hear him singing when he returned from the Everlasting Open Arms House of Salvation Church, on a bus that had the words UP JESUS DOWN SATAN written on the side. The singing would reach my ears right up on the fourth floor. From my window I watched the
bus driver and Pastor King Junior carry Father towards the apartment because he could not stand up at all.
If Father did stand up, it was worse. He seemed to have no idea how to move around quietly, and when he did try, after Mama said her head was splitting in two, the crashing became louder.
We were so used to Father’s loud voice that it became quieter. Our ears changed and put on a barrier like sunglasses whenever he was at home. So when we left for market early on Saturday morning and knew Father was out working all day on some important account at the office, our ears did not need their sunglasses on. And when Mama realized she had forgotten her purse, and we had to turn back, our ears were working fine. I heard the chatter of the women at market, the traffic and street traders along Allen Avenue, and the humming of the electric gate to let us back into the apartment building. I heard our footsteps on the hallway carpets, and Mama’s key in the front lock. I heard the cupboard door open when Ezikiel and I went straight for the biscuits.
And then I heard the most terrible, loudest noise I had ever heard in my life.
My switched-on ears hurt. I tried to put the glasses on them, to switch them down, to turn them off. Father must have been home; I could hear him shouting.
Father was a loud man.
But it was Mama who was screaming.
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Revue de presse
'Absorbing and passionate' The Guardian.
'Skilfully treading the fine line between gritty hardship and homespun warmth ... Christie Watson's affecting but unsentimental debut earns its place in the sun' The Independent.
'Readability and literary merit go hand in hand in this vibrant gem of a novel' The Costa Judges.
'An excellent novel. It takes the reader deep into the reality of ordinary life in Nigeria and is also funny, moving and politically alert' Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland.
'Christie Watson's debut novel, set in the troubled Niger Delta, does what fiction does best, it captures place and characters so well that you feel you are there. It is sincere, it is powerfully written, and it deserves to be read' Helon Habila, author of Oil on Water.
'The gripping, triumphant tale of a girl who chooses life over loss, in a sweet but savage world where oil is bled from the earth' Lola Shoneyin, author of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives.
'A must-read. Lyrical and beautifully drawn, a poignant coming of age tale, set in an Africa few readers will have experienced' Lesley Lokko.
'So good I had to lie down after reading it' Trezza Azzopardi.
'Funny, tragic and moving all in the right places' Pride.
'An immensely absorbing novel. It is both heart-wrenching and consoling' Chika Unigwe, author of On Black Sisters' Street.
'A fascinating, poignant story that had me laughing in places and deeply moved in others' Ike Anya.
'Watson's nuanced portrayal of daily life in Nigeria is peopled with flawed but tenacious characters who fight not only for survival but for dignity. Blessing is a wonderful narrator whose vivid impressions enliven Watson's sensual prose' Publishers Weekly.
'Through the lens of a young girl's coming of age, this breakthrough novel views the politics of contemporary Nigeria, portraying the clash between traditional and modern as it affects one extended family... Watson tells her story of culture clash without heavy messages, but the issues are sure to spark intense discussion, especially about the damage done to the environment and to the people by the powerful international oil industry in league with the corrupt government' Booklist. --Reviews.