Yinka, Where is Your Huzband? [2]

Author:

Lizzie Damilola Blackburn

Title:

Yinka, Where is Your Huzband? [2]

Publisher:

Viking

Nataka Books Reviews: 

Yinka, Where is Your Huzband? [2]

Yinka is under pressure from family and friends to find her match and settle down. That is what you would believe from the title of this book. The real story is about so much more. Yinka's views and beliefs constantly work against her closest relatives and norms of a society that does not afford her the freedom. An entertaining book !


The main character Yinka Oladeji is a principled, industrious and likeable 31-year old who is successful in her career but no so much in her private life, at least according to society's and her family's standards. 


We learn a lot from Yinka who is the narrator. Every perspective is examined, questioned, joked about and at times Yinka herself bends to society's norms. Yinka refuses casual relationships, wigs and anything not up to her standards. But for how long? Thought I knew it all but it turns out , everyone checks overyone out it seems among Yinka's friends! I nearly dropped my coffee laughing about how they describe each other's ...shall we call it ...derriere.


'Yinka, where is your huzband?' is an enjoyable novel firmly anchored in the narrator's voice, life and views. You will have to find out whether Yinka gets what she wants, but before that, you will have to laugh as I did.

Nataka Books Full Review: 

Yinka, Where is Your Huzband? [2]

The main character Yinka Oladeji is a principled, industrious and likeable 31-year old who is successful in her career but no so much in her private life, at least according to society's and her family's standards. 


Whist not succumbing to pressure from parents and friends, Yinka tries to forge her path. This is an excellent potrayal of the character of Yinka by Lizzie Damilola. The pull of what Yinka desires is juxtaposed against what others think she should do. Some of this is real, some of it imagined as determined by the unknown in most societies, perhaps what came to be called 'customs'. 


Lizzie Damilola employs humour to potray a modern society and their daily travails. I liked this about the book. Whilst raising serious issues including colourism, hair or patriarchy, Lizzie develops the themes around the characters and their daily life. I enjoy books that tell stories of the extraordinary, but also the ordinary and all else in between as human lives are.


The dialogue around family gatherings or meetings with friends and cocktail parties is entertaining, very light-hearted and hillarious throughout. I thought I knew it all but did not know shapes could be described using letters. We learn a lot from Yinka who is the narrator and informs us, "...if my bum's profile resembles the letter J, and Kemi's profile resembles the letter D, the this woman has only what can be assigned to be the letter P. Pert. Plumb. Perky." I nearly dropped my coffee laughing. Everyone checks overyone out it seems !


I enjoyed how the reader is invited to travel with Yinka as she attends these party, dates or interviews. The writing style has a lot do with the success of the book and Lizzie Damilola pulls it off. Yinka will not be stopped in her desire to find the elusive 'huzband' in London. We get to enjoy and sympathize with the stumbles along the way.


There is a deeper potrayal of Nigerian, British and the combined cultures that runs through the book. For those from outside the cultures, this is a welcome alternative view to the single dimensional ones they encounter elsewhere. The conversational approach of the subject in the novel allows this. 


One key difference the novel brings up is the dispora experience compared to that on the continent. They are not wide differences, but enough to be perceived differently. Yinka is a fascinating account of how both societies see themselves and would be excellent for young readers to debate. 


When Yinka meet Alex's mum, seeking approval, it is Yinka who doles out dissaproval first, "For starters, she's hugging me as though we're mates." Yinka's evaluation of another date, Marcus, is simply, "He seemed preety non-serial killer to me." Marcus proceeds to touch her hair, a rule he clearly does not know. 


Yinka even turns to her eight-grade friend, to see if any chemistry survived all these years. And so we meet Yinka's various dates and aspirant 'huzbands' Alex, Femi, Donova, Emmanuel and so on. Another triumph of this book is that the characters have a contemporary feel, which reminded me of the novel 'Capital' by John Lanchester detailing bonuses and city banking life.  I do wonder though if Lizzie Damilola could have traded fewer potential 'huzbands' for more exploration of the chosen characters, but the ones we meet work well, certainly for a film setting.


The background landscape of a buzzying large metropolis like London suits this book.  Readers get to know Peckam or the City intimately rather than a setting across a nameless London place. The descriptions whilst not as detailed, reminded me of Teju Cole's 'Open City' and its precise mapping of New York.


There are so many insights and angles developed by this book. Yinka is made up of only five letters but her friend Nana still shortens it to "Yinks." I laughed again remembering the times people either shorten their names themselves or others do it for them. 


'Yinka, where is your Huzband?' is an enjoyable novel firmly anchored in the narrator's voice, life and views. This alone is to be celebrated. But does Yinka stay true to her beliefs? You will have to find out whether Yinka gets what she wants, but before that, you will have to laugh as I did.