Writers of color challenge #15
This book was lent to me by a roller derby teammate, and is a prized possession of hers. I'd never heard of this author - this is Emecheta's first novel and is semi-autobiographical. It was written in 1972 but the style doesn't feel "old," it's clever and sharp. Our protagonist, Adah, is a single mother of several young kiddos living in a slum in London, going to school at night to get a degree in sociology and trying to figure out how to live. She has many questionable interactions with neighbors and locals, who say "I don't care about your color" and "one of your people..." which reflect on the more overt racism of the day but still resonate in today's world. Adah's thoughts on these matters are a little sarcastic but also a little maudlin.
I like the "Juju Landlord," a fellow Nigerian who is trying to evict her and her family with witchcraft! I love her reflection that in Africa this would be a big deal and terrifying, but in London it's merely ridiculous, and the neighbors are like WTF...
What also struck me was her conflicted feelings toward her social worker. The social worker Carol gets her grants, helps her with basically everything, so Adah feels indebted... except that Carol spills Adah's personal life all over the place. Adah shifts between adoring and despising Carol, which I suppose is reasonable.
I also liked Adah's reflections that her public housing complex was like a compound in Africa. Everyone in everyone else's business, no privacy, but lots of support and companionship. When you move to a "proper" flat, you're a stranger to everyone. After two years in Africa I felt this too, like the US communities would be sterile and lonely. Which they are unless you do something about that. Then they're not.