On Black Sisters Street: Book summary and reviews of On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe

On Black Sisters Street

A Novel

by Chika Unigwe

On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe X
On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Apr 2011
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

On Black Sisters Street tells the haunting story of four very different women who have left their African homeland for the riches of Europe - and who are thrown together by bad luck and big dreams into a sisterhood that will change their lives.

Each night, Sisi, Ama, Efe, and Joyce stand in the windows of Antwerp's red-light district, promising to make men's desires come true - if only for half an hour. Pledged to the fierce Madam and a mysterious pimp named Dele, the girls share an apartment but little else - they keep their heads down, knowing that one step out of line could cost them a week's wages. They open their bodies to strangers but their hearts to no one, each focused on earning enough to get herself free, to send money home or save up for her own future.

Then, suddenly, a murder shatters the still surface of their lives. Drawn together by tragedy and the loss of one of their own, the women realize that they must choose between their secrets and their safety. As they begin to tell their stories, their confessions reveal the face in Efe's hidden photograph, Ama's lifelong search for a father, Joyce's true name, and Sisi's deepest secrets - and all their tales of fear, displacement, and love, concluding in a chance meeting with a handsome, sinister stranger.

On Black Sisters Street marks the U.S. publication debut of Chika Unigwe, a brilliant new writer and a standout voice among contemporary African authors. Raw, vivid, unforgettable, and inspired by a powerful oral storytelling tradition, this novel illuminates the dream of the West - and that dream's illusion and annihilation - as seen through African eyes. It is a story of courage, unity, and hope, of women's friendships and of bonds that, once forged, cannot be broken.

Read a Sample

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The author's raw voice, unflinching eye for detail, facility for creating a complex narrative, and affection for her characters make this a must read." - Publishers Weekly

"While the revelations about the murder are unsurprising, and the details about the red light district not particularly vivid, the women's personal stories are wrenchingly memorable." - Library Journal

"In her English-language debut, the Nigerian-born Unigwe convincingly exposes an unfamiliar world without sentimentality... Capable drama that puts a human face on the scourge of human trafficking." - Kirkus Reviews

"An important and accomplished novel that leaves a strong aftertaste. Unigwe gives voice to those who are voiceless... and bestows dignity on those who are stripped of it." - The Independent (UK)

"It is frustrating that the male figures are either abusive or weakly passive ciphers. And the girls themselves... fail to break out of the creative-writing exercise mould of how to portray lonely prostitutes battling against the world." - The Guardian (UK)

The information about On Black Sisters Street shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Rita

Rita's Review of On Black Sisters Street
This novel is set in Antwerp and recounts the stories of four women who work here as immigrant prostitutes. I think that the merits of this novel are twofold: first, it gives one insight into life in Nigeria in today's world; and, secondly, and most importantly, it gives one real empathy for women in a working situation that tends to elicit scorn from most people. One gains understanding of how young girls can get into such a situation and not just poor African girls and how and why they deal with the situation. This is an easy read in terms of writing style but may not be the most uplifting book you will read this year.

Kelli Robinson

Be Transported to Nigeria and Belgium
I discovered this book while looking for a Nigerian author for a reading challenge. As with any book set outside of the United States, I liked being transported to two different countries: Nigeria and Belgium, neither of which I had ever visited. I also liked the structure of the book as it moved from the present in Belgium and the mystery surrounding the murder of a fellow sex worker back to the pasts of four different women and their paths from Africa to Europe and to their current trade. This book is dark and the naivete of the characters seems a bit unrealistic at times, but I found myself moving through the story quickly. Men are the aggressors throughout the book but that part of the story seems based on an all-to-often reality for many women in many parts of the world.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Chika Unigwe

Chika Unigwe was born in Nigeria and now lives in Belgium with her husband and four children. She was a 2008 UNESCO-Aschberg fellow and a 2009 Rockefeller Foundation fellow (at the Bellagio Center), and she holds a Ph.D. from the University of Leiden. She is the recipient of several awards for her writing, including first prize in the 2003 BBC Short Story Competition and a Commonwealth Short Story Competition award. In 2004 she was shortlisted for the Caine prize for African Writing. Her stories have been on BBC World Service and Radio Nigeria. Her first novel, De Feniks, was published in Dutch in 2005.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more novels...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Small Fry
    Small Fry
    by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
    Small Fry is the debut memoir from Lisa Brennan-Jobs, long-time journalist and writer, and oldest ...
  • Book Jacket: The Winter Soldier
    The Winter Soldier
    by Daniel Mason
    Imagine the thousands of confounding cases doctors face routinely for which diagnoses are hard to ...
  • Book Jacket: Brother
    Brother
    by David Chariandy
    Brother is the brief, moving account of how a single, tragic moment in time can alter the course of ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Islamic Enlightenment
    by Christopher de Bellaigue
    In this comprehensive and well-researched history, de Bellaigue examines the evolution of Islamic ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

A crowning achievement of one of the finest American writers at work today.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    French Exit
    by Patrick deWitt

    A brilliant and darkly comic novel from bestselling author Patrick deWitt.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Clockmaker's Daughter

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House. On sale Oct 9.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T Turn T S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.