April 16, 2021

My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, the Serial Killer is a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water.

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first.

Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

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This book made its way into my hands on the recommendation of a blogger friend. Quite glad it did!

A completely original story about a pair of sisters living in Nigeria: Korede the older sister – sensible, feels unattractive, homely, loyal; and Ayoola the younger sister – beautiful, self-absorbed, keeps killing her lovers. Awkward.

I found this to be a story more about family ties and the loyalty you feel towards your relatives than about the fact Ayoola is a serial killer. The family dynamic between Korede and Ayoola where Korede feels the need to ‘tidy up’ after Ayoola no matter what she’s done is perhaps classic ‘big sister’ behaviour. This all changes when Ayoola starts dating a doctor that Korede is secretly in love with. Fear over what will inevitably happen to him overrides the family loyalty breifly and leaves Ayoola vulnerable to discovery.

The descriptions of the murders are pretty graphic so not one for those of us with a weak stomach but otherwise this is a great read. It tackles love, family, loyalty, lies, and how one person’s perception of reality can differ so greatly from someone close to them.

Easy to see why this novel was nominated for both the Booker and the Woman’s Prize for Fiction in 2019.

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