Monday, 18 March 2019

My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
First published in Nigeria as Thicker Than Water by Qamina in 2017. Republished as My Sister The Serial Killer by Atlantic Books in November 2018.

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my partner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Korede's dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what's expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This'll be the third boyfriend Ayoola's dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede's long been in love with him, and isn't prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other...

I loved My Sister, The Serial Killer! Braithwaite's sharp, snappy prose creates vivid atmospheric scenes in just a couple of sentences and I could clearly imagine all her characters from obsessively cleaning Korede to perpetually dozing Yinka. For such a dark story - we now have Nigerian Noir to complete with Scandi Noir - My Sister, The Serial Killer is very funny. The combination of Braithwaite's entertaining humour and short chapters meant that this novel zipped past and I was disappointed to realise I had finished it in just a few hours. I could have happily spent longer with Korede and her sister Ayoola.

Blithe serial killer Ayoola is a fascinating invention and I will be very surprised if her story doesn't reappear as a film version within the next few years. Seemingly unaware of the implications of her actions and incapable of taking responsibility, she flits from one man to the next, always relying on her beauty to save the day. And on her sister of course. Korede and Ayoola are strikingly different physically but I felt both were equally as damaged by the domestic abuse they witnessed and experienced in childhood. Ayoola might be the actual murderer, but is Korede any less culpable for continuing to facilitate her sister's actions. Obviously enabling a sibling to repeatedly commit murder is wrong, but where should the line be drawn between protecting one's family from the world and protecting the world from one's family?

I'm delighted to have discovered Oyinkan Braithwaite. I'd recommend My Sister The Serial Killer to a wide readership and look forward to reading more of her storytelling in the future.

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  1. I have been seeing this one around in a lot of bookshops but wasn't sure what to make of it. Your review gives me a lot of clarity though! It sounds like the writing style really contributes to the atmosphere of the book. And it sounds like it really works towards unpacking that controversial question of family, crime and where protection should end or exist for those you love.

    1. I think Braithwaite has written a superb novella here! It's deliciously dark and I loved the read

  2. I'm seeing this book on a lot of blogs at the moment. It certainly seems to be a popular choice.

    1. It's a great novella and refreshingly different from the usual noir fare :-)