Book Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer

Jackie Wilson Asheeke

A novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Because I am a bona fide 2020 pandemic homebody, I am reading more books. I am on and, so I swim in eBooks and audiobooks these days. I stumbled on this book My Sister, the Serial Killer some time ago; it came out two years ago.

I listened to the audiobook version because it was on sale and my book-buying budget is very challenged these days. It is of a plotline, setting and ‘voice’ that is rare in the books that I come across. The author is a black Nigerian woman, telling a dark, funny, poignant multi-faceted story that is engaging.

A Washington Post book critic wrote, “The title of Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel, “My Sister, the Serial Killer,” is simultaneously accurate and misleading. The book is not at all the pulpy slasher story you might expect. Instead, it is a playful yet affecting examination of sibling rivalry, the legacy of abuse and the shallow sexism of Nigeria’s patriarchal society.”

At first, I was attracted by a serial murderer story by a black woman author, sexism in Nigerian society, real characters supporting the main two sisters, sand a camera’s view description of chaotic, corrupt Lagos…a very rare bird. There were personalities in the tale that were very real to me and I loved it!

I rejoice that a black female author can write a book that is not only about racism or black lives matter or slavery or a ‘black’ topic that pleases white publishers and readers because it can be pigeonholed. This is not to say that the powerful authors writing in those areas aren’t slammin’! Not at all. I re-energize my fire for justice and readiness to fight each time I read those great stories and digest the facts to offer.

But, this story by Oyinkan Braithwaite is not a book decrying white supremacy. It is not a story about a black woman overcoming racism to make it in a white male dominated work field or a book about a racism, sexual abuse, apartheid or slavery. There is no deep historical, sociologically challenging or uplifting message in this book (at least from my viewpoint). This is a fictional sister’s story about her engaging, funny, insane, murderous little sister. The meat of the story is the relationship between the older and younger sisters. This is a big sister/little sister story set with the sexist Nigerian cultural backdrop and the colourful, chaotic, corrupt atmosphere of Lagos.

I had the audiobook version. I LOVED the woman with a West African accent who was the reader. It lent itself to the authenticity of the story told. It would have been too weird to hear a sista’ from the ‘hood (like me) reading this Nigerian sister/sister tale or a white woman with a British accent reading it.

There were parts of the story where I shouldn’t have been laughing because someone was being killed or a body was being disposed of, but it struck my funny bone!

So many books ask the reader to see the lead characters in ‘what-if’ plotlines. This is another one, BUT it is a very, very different one.

Get this book! It has been out for a while now and the price is lower. Embrace another approach to what is entertaining literature and break away from the classic white male or white female driven murder stories.

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