Under an Emerald Sky by Olukemi Amala
Rarely have I been moved to write a recommendation about a novel. Under an Emerald Sky is the debut novel by Olukemi Amala.
It tells the story of two girls of Nigerian heritage born in the 1980s in England and their struggle towards self love and womanhood. Woven into their stories is the overarching themes of oppression and power. Namley patriarchy, colonialism & imperialism, and homophobia. Yewande, the protagonist is raised by a Africa centric proud Nigerian Yoruba Mother. Females in her family are gifted with the ability to ‘see and hear at night with the ease of fruit bats or transforming into giant swallowtail butterflies and flying off on golden wings.’ These women have an expanded consciousness. Mary, also of Nigerian Yoruba heritage, is raised by a Eurocentric mother and is hated from birth.
Through these black women we witness the struggles each face for self acceptance. This novel reads like the best feminist, magic-realist, radical, left-wing fiction.I love the work by Octavia Butler and sci-fi feminist fans like me will not be dissappointed by this novel. Lovers of realist fiction wil find much to appreciate too.
This novel is a sensory rich experience. Young women 18-30 will love it because it is relevant to their lives. Over 30s will love it too for the engrossing story telling. The dialogue is rich with Yoruba saying, dialect and street talk. This novel questions many themes including the Christian ‘male God’ and redifines ‘God’ as the ‘Supreme Sista’. This work took me to places of mystery, self enquiry, tears and much laughter. A thinking woman’s novel with the light touch of literary magic. Olukemi Amala is a writer to watch in the future.