A painful story of identity, Chris Abani uses vivid descriptions and striking turns of phrases to share the emotionally horrific story of a young Nigerian girl named Abigail. Her mother and namesake died during her birth and Abigail’s father has turned into a lonely, angry, and depressed drunk. Abani’s writing borders into poetry, allowing for ambiguity and distance to help digest the horrors Abigail is put through. The novella switches from the past to the present, covering Abigail’s forced relocation to London and her struggle to fight for herself. Excruciatingly honest, Becoming Abigail is for the reader looking to sink into a beautiful yet haunting story of a heart that seems so broken, it’s unfixable.
For more lyrical yet understated books, try….
What You See in the Dark by Manuel Muñoz
Set in 1950s Bakersfield, California, Muñoz pieces together the story of two young beautiful locals falling in love, the filming of what would become a famous horror movie, and a murder in this atmospheric story of longing.
Blue Eyes, Black Hair by Marguerite Duras
Infatuated with a guy he has only glimpsed, a man locks himself away in a room with a woman to talk about their obsessions of love in this intensely charged story of desire.
Everything Good Will Come by Sefi Atta
An educated woman with big dreams, Enitan shares the trials of growing up in military-ruled Nigeria after the Biafran war.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Centered around the Biafran War, the lives of three different people are explored: thirteen-year-old Ugwu who is the houseboy for a university professor, Olanna, the young mistress of the professor, and Richard, an Englishman in love with Olanna’s twin sister.
The Translator by Leila Aboulela
Sammar, a widowed Muslim, falls for a faithless Middle-Eastern scholar and must grapple with the cultural differences and grief that comes with falling in love.