For me, this book was like looking into a mirror. I appreciated that one unifying element in these stories is food—from jollof rice to egusi soup—and culture from very distinct ethnic groups in Nigeria. Conversely, it highlights the surreal experience of being considered black in America, being affected by racism, but also feeling disconnected to the visceral anger that many black-americans feel toward the United States’ history. This was a uniquely satisfying book.— MORGAN
“I couldn’t put this book down and I loved spending time in the lives of Nonso, Remi, Aisha, and Solape. Truly this book will grab hold of your heart and mind and everything in between.”—Roxane Gay, author of Hunger and Bad Feminist
?“Poignant and beautiful. . . . Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi will sweep you away with these subtle yet profound stories. She is a bold and elegant writer, and this debut is such a pleasure.”—Edan Lepucki, author of Woman No. 17 and California
Nigerian author Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi makes her American debut with this dazzling novel which explores her homeland’s past, present, and possible future through the interconnected stories of four fearless globe-trotting women.
Moving between Nigeria and America, Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions is a window into the world of accomplished Nigerian women, illuminating the challenges they face and the risks they take to control their destinies.
Students at an all-girls boarding school, Nonso, Remi, Aisha, and Solape forge an unbreakable sisterhood that is tempered during a school rebellion, an uprising with repercussions that will forever reverberate through their lives. The children of well-to-do families, these young women have been raised with a thirst for independence, believing a university education is their right—a legacy of ambition and hope inherited from their foremothers.
Leaving school and adolescence behind, the women grapple with the unexpected possibilities—and limitations—of adulthood and the uncertainties of the world within and outside of Nigeria. A trip to Ghana opens Nonso’s eyes to the lasting impact of the transatlantic slave trade, she falls in love with an African American, and makes a new home in the United States. Remi meets Segun, a dynamic man of Nigerian descent from Yonkers whose own traumatic struggles and support gives her the strength to confront painful family wounds. Aisha’s overwhelming sense of guilt haunts her, influencing career and relationship decisions until she sees a chance to save her son’s life and, through her sacrifice, redefine her own.
Revolving around loss, belonging, family, friendship, alienation, and silence, Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions is a moving, multifaceted portrait of lives shaped by hope and sorrow—of women who must contend with the ever-present and unsettling notion that moving forward in time isn’t necessarily progress.
“I truly loved this linked short story collection. The narrative takes us into the intimate workings of friends and families. Omolola explores their complex lives in astoundingly beautiful language. If, like me, you enjoy stories that take you out of your reading chair to worlds that follow you back to your own, then this is the book for you.”—Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, award-winning author of A Woman of Endurance
Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi was born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria. A finalist for the 2009 PEN/Studzinski Literary Award, her stories and poetry have appeared in New Writing from Africa 2009, Ploughshares, The Massachusetts Review, the Indiana Review, Wasafiri, Dance the Guns to Silence: 100 Poems for Ken Saro-Wiwa, and The American Poetry Review. She graduated from Barnard and UPenn with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in computer science. Omolola is a professor of preventive and social medicine at Charles R. Drew Univer- sity of Medicine and Science in South Los Angeles, where she teaches and conducts research on using biomedical informatics to reduce health disparities. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband.
"These beautifully rendered stories form an impressive whole that will please multiple literary tastes, combining Nigerian history with a touch of mysticism, and contemporary familial angst with a dire futuristic vision." — Library Journal
“Dynamic… These richly developed stories are resonant and rewarding.”— — Publishers Weekly
"I couldn’t put this book down and I loved spending time in the lives of Nonso, Remi, Aisha, and Solape. Truly this book will grab hold of your heart and mind and everything in between.” — Roxane Gay, author of Hunger and Bad Feminist
"In this original novel in interlocking stories, Ogunyemi writes powerfully and compellingly of relationships, both romantic and non-romantic. Set between 1897 and 2050, the stories move across countries—Nigeria, Poland, and the United States. Whether set in the past, the present, or the future, Ogunyemi's characters are recognizably human, and their struggles and desires explored in incisive, delightful prose. Ogunyemi is a natural story-teller." — Chika Unigwe, author of Better Never Than Late
"I truly loved this linked short story collection. The narrative takes us into the intimate workings of friends and families. Omolola explores their complex lives in astoundingly beautiful language. If, like me, you enjoy stories that take you out of your reading chair to worlds that follow you back to your own, then this is the book for you." — Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, award-winning author of A WOMAN OF ENDURANCE
"In her debut collection of interwoven stories, Lola Ogunyemi has reinvented the classic narrative of diaspora. She reaches into Nigeria’s past and far into the speculative future, travels from Africa, to Poland, to America, drawing together an unforgettable group of characters whose shared struggles and triumphs are delivered with profound feeling, inspired insight, and careful humor. Each story is unique in tone and structure, but together they crystallize into a remarkable and important vision of heritage, culture, and an indelible sense of home." — Ivy Pochoda, author of These Women and Wonder Valley
"I have rarely been as blindsided—in the best possible way—by the final moments of a book as I was while reading Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions: A Novel in Interlocking Stories. The final chapter will shock you. You will likely pause, flip back a few pages, certain that you missed something. Then you will realize that you did not, in fact, miss anything. You might scream, close the book, go for a walk and return to it, still shocked." — New York Times Book Review
"For admiring readers, the radiance of Ogunyemi's debut hopefully signals more dazzling fiction to come." — Shelf Awareness
"Ogunyemi explores myriad themes, from religion and fundamentalism to grief and resilience, capitalism and corruption, with aplomb." — Kirkus Reviews
"Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions celebrates friendship, the power of community and home, and the joy of being a woman able to take control of her destiny… Ogunyemi’s writing has the power to reverberate through generations." — Booklist (starred review)
"Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions is a poignant and beautiful book. I loved returning to these characters at different points in their lives in various locales across the world--a market in Lagos, Nigeria, a cafe in Krakow, Poland, or a New York highway. Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi will sweep you away with these subtle yet profound stories. She is a bold and elegant writer, and this debut is such a pleasure.” — Edan Lepucki, author of Woman No. 17 and California: A Novel
"Ogunyemi’s language is lyrical, and what makes this interlocked novel a brilliant piece of art is the texture of the experiences and themes she carefully tracks. Like a seasoned Nigerian cook, she layers the book with distinct voices and perspectives—from the fable-like lilt of the opening story to the sharp contemporary language of the later section, and then the rhythmic pidgin in the last third of the book. . .a brilliant authorial move that also captures the sounds and flavor of Lagos. In the end, what we have is a meticulously detailed narrative that pulsates." — Isele Magazine