Lagos, January 1976, six years after the Nigerian Civil War. A new military regime has been in power for six months, but rumors are spreading that a countercoup is imminent. At an art exhibition in the affluent Ikoyi neighborhood, Remi Lawal, a Nigerian woman who runs her own greeting-card shop, meets Frances Cooke, who introduces herself as an American art dealer, in Nigeria to buy rare beads. They become friends and over the next few weeks confide in each other about their aspirations, loyalties, marriage, motherhood—and Nigeria itself, as hospitable Remi welcomes the enigmatic Frances into her world.
With her signature subtlety and wit, Sefi Atta examines a brief but profound friendship, and one Nigerian mother’s yearning—amid legacies of conflict and uncertainty—to help build her country from home.
‘Sefi Atta brings to exhilarating life the textures, rhythms and byzantine subtexts of this complex society. It’s been a long time since I felt so powerfully immersed in a novel.’—Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs