A Spell of Good Things: A novel (Paperback)
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GMA BUZZ PICK • A dazzling story of modern Nigeria and two families caught in the riptides of wealth, power, romantic obsession, and political corruption from the celebrated author of Stay with Me, "in the lineage of great works by Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie" (The New York Times).
Wuraola is a golden girl, the perfect child of a wealthy family. Now an exhausted young doctor in her first year of practice, she is beloved by Kunle, the volatile son of an ascendant politician.
Eniola is tall for his age, a boy who looks like a man. Because his father has lost his job, Eniola spends his days running errands for the local tailor, collecting newspapers, begging when he must, dreaming of a big future.
When a local politician takes an interest in Eniola and sudden violence shatters a family party, Wuraola's and Eniola’s lives become intertwined. In her breathtaking second novel, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ shines her light on Nigeria, on the gaping divide between the haves and the have-nots, and the shared humanity that lives in between.
About the Author
AYỌ̀BÁMI ADÉBÁYỌ̀ was born in Lagos, Nigeria. Her debut novel, Stay with Me, won the 9mobile Prize for Literature, was shortlisted for the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction, the Wellcome Book Prize, and the Kwani? Manuscript Prize. It has been translated into twenty languages and the French translation was awarded the Prix Les Afriques. Longlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award, Stay with Me was a New York Times, Guardian, Chicago Tribune, and NPR Best Book of the Year.
BOOKER PRIZE NOMINEE • GMA BUZZ PICK • A New York Times Editors’ Choice • A SheReads Best Book Club Pick of The Year • A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK: Refinery 29, Financial Times, The Guardian, Oprah Daily, Electric Literature, Brittle Paper, and Write or Die Mag
"Adébáyò established her storytelling prowess in her 2017 debut, Stay With Me....In this compelling follow-up, Adébáyò’s hand is just as deft, but her canvas is more expansive....The graceful, stately quality of the sentences evokes restraint....Timely....Adébáyò humanizes those sucked into the vortex of that power with a striking compassion — the characters’ misjudgments and delusions are deeply and empathetically imagined, wholly alive....Readers around the world may want to turn their gazes from the poor on their neighborhood sidewalks, but the inescapable truth is that the inhabitants of any place remain bound to one another. Not just by space or circumstance, but by our shared vulnerability to the whims of socioeconomic forces, by the recognition that another human’s longings are not so different from our own."
—Aamina Ahmad, The New York Times
"Adebayo is a gifted storyteller, and like her debut novel, Stay with Me, her second book does not disappoint. The thin line between the poor and the wealthy is decimated when the lives of Eniola, an errand boy for a tailor, and Wuraola, a physician, collide. The violence of elections and the empty promises of politicians, the obscene wealth of the connected, the hunger and desperation of the have-nots all intersect in this examination of a community in Nigeria."
"Eniola and Wuraola come from different classes in Nigeria, and in this dynamic sophomore novel from Adebayo, we see how socioeconomic stratification, exacerbated by gender inequality, can destroy lives at all levels. Never mind that these layers are all interdependent and innately connected —a paradox that leads here to a shocking, violent act from which there is no turning back."
—Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times
"As with her lauded debut Stay With Me, in Ayòbámi Adébáyò’s second novel domestic strife and the political tensions of modern Nigeria bristle against each other....As the protagonists’ stories are ineluctably drawn together, the compassion Adébáyò feels for her two protagonists is deep and her social consciousness commendable."
—Michael Donkor, The Guardian
"Adébáyọ̀ shines a light on modern Nigeria in this dynamic political novel, crafting a dazzling tale of wealth and love in the process."
—Chicago Review of Books
“A moving story, skillfully told, about Eniola, a boy whose future has been snatched away from him, and Wuraola, a talented, overworked junior doctor, whose intertwined narratives combine to produce an insightful portrait of an unequal and deeply divided society moving towards a terrible crisis. A Spell of Good Things is both gripping and memorable.”
—Pat Barker, award-winning author of The Silence of the Girls and The Women of Troy
“Adebayo’s mesmerizing prose is suffused with heart and sharp emotions. Every page of this book was a pleasure to read. Even the hard parts. A Spell of Good Things is a triumph of storytelling.”
—Chika Unigwe, author of On Black Sisters Street
“All characters matter in Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀’s intricate, haunting and timely fictional exploration of classism and sexism set in Nigeria’s election season.”
—Sefi Atta, author of Everything Good Will Come
“Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ is a natural storyteller, a spellbinder. Her expansive second novel is Dickensian in scope and execution. It sparkles.”
—Helon Habila, author of Travelers
“It is wonderful that Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ has delivered a novel that takes all the promise of her debut Stay With Me to another fabulous level. Her writing has a captivating power that becomes irresistible, detail by detail, page by page, making A Spell of Good Things a truly unforgettable read for me.”
—Margaret Busby, editor of New Daughters of Africa
“Adébáyọ̀ follows up Stay with Me with this bright and distinctive tragedy… The story’s violent denouement is as devastating as it is inevitable. Pitch-perfect details provide a sense of the characters’ lives—the red dust caked on Ẹniọlá’s white socks from long walks to school, the soft headscarf worn by Wúràọlá’s mother that ‘barely whispered’—and as the characters are pushed to the brink, Adébáyọ̀ delivers a searing indictment of the country’s corruption and gender inequalities. This packs a powerful punch.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred
"This novel deftly explores class and violence in modern Nigeria. Adébáyọ̀’s characterization is empathetic, but also ruthless when it needs to be. Get ready to cry as you become immersed in a world full of political corruption, balanced with a bit of humor."
—Erica Ezeifedi, Book Riot
"Adébáyọ̀...has a sprightly writing style that’s pleasurably at odds with the devastating story she tells. She captures the almost musical speech patterns of her characters and doesn’t trouble to translate snatches of Nigeria’s many languages. The novel’s cast is large, but each character is distinct....A Spell of Good Things is a wonderfully written, tragic book."
—Arlene McKanic, BookPage