Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions: A Novel in Interlocking Stories (Amistad)
Nigerian author Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi makes her American debut with this dazzling novel which explores her homeland’s past, present, and possible future through the interconnected stories of four fearless globe-trotting women.
Moving between Nigeria and America, Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions is a window into the world of accomplished Nigerian women, illuminating the challenges they face and the risks they take to control their destinies.
Students at an all-girls boarding school, Nonso, Remi, Aisha, and Solape forge an unbreakable sisterhood that is tempered during a school rebellion, an uprising with repercussions that will forever reverberate through their lives. The children of well-to-do families, these young women have been raised with a thirst for independence, believing a university education is their right—a legacy of ambition and hope inherited from their foremothers.
Leaving school and adolescence behind, the women grapple with the unexpected possibilities—and limitations—of adulthood and the uncertainties of the world within and outside of Nigeria. A trip to Ghana opens Nonso’s eyes to the lasting impact of the transatlantic slave trade, she falls in love with an African American, and makes a new home in the United States. Remi meets Segun, a dynamic man of Nigerian descent from Yonkers whose own traumatic struggles and support gives her the strength to confront painful family wounds. Aisha’s overwhelming sense of guilt haunts her, influencing career and relationship decisions until she sees a chance to save her son’s life and, through her sacrifice, redefine her own.
Revolving around loss, belonging, family, friendship, alienation, and silence, Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions is a moving, multifaceted portrait of lives shaped by hope and sorrow—of women who must contend with the ever-present and unsettling notion that moving forward in time isn’t necessarily progress.
Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi was born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria. A finalist for the 2009 PEN/Studzinski Award (published in New Writing from Africa 2009, a collection of PEN/Studzinski Award finalists’ stories), her stories have been published in Ploughshares and listed in The Best American Short Stories 2018. Her poetry has appeared in the Massachusetts Review, the Indiana Review and Wasafiri. She graduated from Barnard and UPenn with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in computer science. Omolola is a Professor of Preventive and Social Medicine at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in South Los Angeles, where she teaches and conducts research on using biomedical informatics to reduce health disparities. She lives in California with her husband.
David L. Ulin is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles, shortlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and Ucross Foundation. He is the books editor of Alta Journal, and a professor of English at the University of Southern California, where he edits the journal Air/Light.
Praise for Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions -
"I couldn’t put this book down and I loved spending time in the lives of Nonso, Remi, Aisha, and Solape. Truly this book will grab hold of your heart and mind and everything in between.” — Roxane Gay, author of Hunger and Bad Feminist
"Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions is a poignant and beautiful book. I loved returning to these characters at different points in their lives in various locales across the world--a market in Lagos, Nigeria, a cafe in Krakow, Poland, or a New York highway. Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi will sweep you away with these subtle yet profound stories. She is a bold and elegant writer, and this debut is such a pleasure.” — Edan Lepucki, author of Woman No. 17 and California: A Novel
"I truly loved this linked short story collection. The narrative takes us into the intimate workings of friends and families. Omolola explores their complex lives in astoundingly beautiful language. If, like me, you enjoy stories that take you out of your reading chair to worlds that follow you back to your own, then this is the book for you." — Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, award-winning author of A WOMAN OF ENDURANCE
"In her debut collection of interwoven stories, Lola Ogunyemi has reinvented the classic narrative of diaspora. She reaches into Nigeria’s past and far into the speculative future, travels from Africa, to Poland, to America, drawing together an unforgettable group of characters whose shared struggles and triumphs are delivered with profound feeling, inspired insight, and careful humor. Each story is unique in tone and structure, but together they crystallize into a remarkable and important vision of heritage, culture, and an indelible sense of home." — Ivy Pochoda, author of These Women and Wonder Valley
"In this original novel in interlocking stories, Ogunyemi writes powerfully and compellingly of relationships, both romantic and non-romantic. Set between 1897 and 2050, the stories move across countries—Nigeria, Poland, and the United States. Whether set in the past, the present, or the future, Ogunyemi's characters are recognizably human, and their struggles and desires explored in incisive, delightful prose. Ogunyemi is a natural story-teller." — Chika Unigwe, author of Better Never Than Late