The JRB presents an excerpt from Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions: A Novel in Interlocking Stories, the debut novel from Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi.
Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions: A Novel in Interlocking Stories
Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi
Read the excerpt:
Publisher’s note: This excerpt has been removed pending further detail on the book’s rights situation.
- Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi was born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria. A finalist for the 2009 PEN/Studzinski Literary Award, her writing has appeared in New Writing from Africa 2009, Ploughshares, The Massachusetts Review, the Indiana Review, Wasafiri, Dance the Guns to Silence: 100 Poems for Ken Saro-Wiwa, and The American Poetry Review. She graduated from Barnard and UPenn with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in computer science. Ogunyemi is a Professor of Preventive and Social Medicine at Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science in South Los Angeles.
Nigerian author Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi makes her American debut with an unforgettable collection of interlocking stories, Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions, which explore her homeland’s past, present, and possible future through the eyes of three fearless globe-trotting women.
Nonso, Remi, Aisha, and Solape meet as young, ambitious students at an all-girls boarding school, quickly forming a lifelong bond. However, their sisterhood is challenged when, after participating in a school revolt, they are faced with repercussions that change their lives irrevocably.
Traversing Nigeria, Europe, and America, and spanning a century and a half, Ogunyemi traces the trajectories of the girls’ lives as they grapple with the unexpected possibilities—and limitations—of adulthood and uncertainties of the world within and outside of their home country. Nonso’s step-grandmother, Adaoma, faced with infertility, acquires a wife to create a family of her own. Decades later, Nonso also grapples with fertility issues after she moves to the US and falls in love with an African-American man. 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. It is through their stories, that Ogunyemi offers a window into her cultural heritage and the human condition—its risks, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.
Vignettes of loss, belonging, family, friendship, alienation, and silence, Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions offers a nuanced 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.