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The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives

Lola Shoneyin

4 Reviews

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Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

A modern classic - Lola Shoneyin's debut novel is a portrait of a clamorous household in the midst of upheaval

When Baba Segi awoke 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. To the dismay of her ambitious mother, Bolanle marries into a polygamous family, where she is the fourth wife of a rich, rotund patriarch, Baba Segi. She is a graduate and therefore a great prize, but even graduates must produce children and her husband's persistent bellyache is a sign that things are not as they should be.

She only wants to escape to a quiet life, but the others disapprove of the newest, youngest, cleverest addition to the family. Treated with respect by her husband, she is viewed with suspicion by her seniors - who fear she may unlock their well-guarded secret.

Through the voices of Baba Segi and his four wives, Lola Shoneyin weaves a vibrant story of love, secrets and a family like every other - happy and unhappy, truthful and not, sometimes kind, sometimes competitive, always bound by blood, and the past.

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Praise for The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives

  • 'A funny and moving story told with love and compassion ... a jewel of a novel'

  • 'A Rabelaisian picture of polygamous marriage, comically capturing the physical realities of ordinary Nigerian life.'

  • 'Riotous... this debut novel is a real eye-opener: a deft, compelling and unsettling tale.' - Irish Examiner

  • 'This deft, lightly spun story packs quite a punch. Shoneyin's unravelling of a family is rooted in and flavoured by Nigeria, but speaks more widely. It is a book you'll want to eat in a sitting - and then start again

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