When Baba Segi woke up with a bellyache for the sixth day in a row, he knew it was time to do something drastic about his fourth wife's childlessness.
For Baba Segi, his collection of wives and gaggle of children are a symbol of prosperity, success, and a validation of his manhood. All is well in this patriarchal home until Baba arrives with wife number four: a quiet, college-educated, young woman named Bolanle. Jealous and resentful of this interloper who is stealing their husband's attention, Baba Segi's three wives begin to plan her downfall. How dare she offer to teach them to read, they whisper. They vow to teach her a lesson instead. What they don't know is that Bolanle hides a terrible secret - a secret that unwittingly exposes the deception and lies upon Baba Segi's household rests.
A stirring tale of men and women, mothers and children, servitude and independence, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives illuminates the common threads that connect the experiences of all women: the hardships they bear, their struggle to define themselves, and their fierce desire to protect those they love.
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"Shoneyin masterfully disentangles four distinct stories, only to subtly expose what is common among them." - Publishers Weekly
"A rich debut... an engrossing and beautifully written domestic tale of polygamy and rivalry set in her native Nigeria." - Harper's Bazaar
"This first novel is a compelling, unsettling tale of a polygamous household, and the women within Baba Segi's walls. Shoneyin's sharply written portrait of a family and a nation gripped by the past yet surging into modernity, manages to be funny, disconcerting and violent all at once. An utterly gripping read." - Patricia Duncker
"For a first novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives surprises as a powerful, mature and absorbing work of fiction. Lola Shoneyin reprises in this novel many of the strengths and virtues of her poetry: the use of language with both precision and evocative power; considerable technical skill in capturing and transfiguring minute details of individual lives and social experience; exploration and celebration of women's lives and experiences with candor, grit, wit and insight. Like the proverbial pebble dropped in a pond, this novel will continue to haunt the reader's imagination with suggestive ripples of wonder, sadness and delight long after the last page has been turned." - Biodun Jeyifo, Harvard University
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Lola Shoneyin was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, but spent most of her childhood at boarding school in Edinburgh, Scotland. She studied English at Ogun State University. She lives in Abuja where she teaches English and Drama at a local school. She writes a weekly blog for a newspaper syndicate and her work has appeared in the London Times. She was a fellow of the Iowa International Writer's Program and has published two volumes of poetry and numerous short stories. She is married to Olaokun Soyinka, the son of Nobel Prize-winner Wole Soyinka. They have four children. She can be found online at lolashoneyin.com
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