Yinka, Where is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
Yinka is a young woman who seems quite content with life. A good job at an investment bank, a nice flat in London, friends and family. Unfortunately, in this funny and frank book, Yinka tells her story of how all the females around her are literally praying for her to find a man “before it’s too late”. This novel brings to vivid life a woman in the heart of a Nigerian community in contemporary London, with the older women being influential “aunties” and a myriad of younger women as friends and cousins. Not that the female led community is necessarily understanding to Yinka; her Oxford degree and career seems little compensation to her mother for the lack of a “Huzband” and children. This book is written in a lively and vivid style, with plenty of revelations and twists. Yinka’s narrative voice is honest and reveals her thoughts and reactions brilliantly. The setting of London, its houses and churches, charities and other venues, is so well realised that this novel really came to life and I was so pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this memorable book.
As Yinka realises that in order to quieten her mother and some aunties and stop them praying over her very publicly, she must find a man and quickly. As a christian that may well be through the lively churches that they attend, as they provide suitable men. The trouble is that Yinka feels that she had a great relationship with the perfect man, but his ambition took him to America. Her job is suddenly less secure, and despite her masterplan she is beginning to wonder if she will ever be good enough to find love. Her friends are not all as helpful as they may be, full of their own lives. Only Nana, to whom she is very close to, urges her to stay true to herself and not change to suit a perception of someone she is not, just to get a man. As one of her friends plans a wedding there is even more pressure on her to find a suitable date, especially as her ex-boyfriend seems to be back on the scene. Should she attend her mother’s church and meet the man who has been lined up for her, or sign up for on-line dating? Her sister is expecting a baby and seems to be succeeding in her mother’s eyes – how will that affect her relationship? Should she go ahead with changing her appearance in a dramatic and expensive way to fit in with expectations? Why do her attempts to be attractive, organised and successful seem to be ill fated?
This is a terrific read of a relatable woman who is struggling to get by in the face of family and community pressures. I greatly enjoyed “meeting” Yinka and her amazing family and friends, empathising with her struggles to be what her mother and others want, while trying to work out how she wants to live. The panics about her appearance are new to me in some of the details, but kept my interest throughout. The characters in this novel are brilliantly created and sustained; my favourite is Nana, closely followed by Blessing who has managed to maintain her identity in the face of so much mayhem. The public prayer sessions are very funny, without undermining the basis of faith which underlines the book in a genuine way. I really enjoyed reading this book in every aspect, and would thoroughly recommend it.