The Spider King’s Daughter by Chibundu Onuzo
Published by Faber & Faber
Reviewed by Robyn Kirk
Book rating: 3.5/5
The book follows the story of two protagonists: Abikė Johnson, the favourite child and only legitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, and a young hawker who has turned to selling cheap ice cream on the side of the road in order to support his family following his father’s death.
The two begin a timid relationship after Abikė buys an ice-cream from him one day, a small action which will have far-reaching consequences for them both.
While at first these two characters are seen to come from different worlds, the reader can increasingly see the tragic intersection of their universes as the novel progresses.
In a sweeping story, light is shone on the methods by which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer through corruption and intimidation in contemporary Nigeria.
Onuzo’s writing style is commendable, as she darts between the viewpoints of her protagonists constantly, sometimes retelling an event more than once in order to show the reader the differing perspectives held by her characters.
Her occasional use of pidgin English in the interaction between street characters gives an authenticity and texture to the book as well.
Overall, a very good first novel, and we should look forward to what comes next from this talented African writer.
The Spider King’s Daughter is available from Van Schaik’s for R133.