One of the absolute joys of blogging is encountering books I would never otherwise come across. Such is the case with today’s featured novel. I’m delighted to welcome Yewande Omotoso to stay in with me to tell me all about it.
Staying in with Yewande Omotoso
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Yewande. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I’ve got here An Unusual Grief, my latest novel.
What can we expect from an evening in with An Unusual Grief?
It’s a story that took about 3 years (of writing) to really find and then another 2 to finish. And I think that’s cause I was trying to connect death and desire. I kept getting stuck.
I think sometimes, the harder a book is to write, the more successful it is in the end. What is An Unusual Grief about?
On one level it’s a story about a 60-year-old woman grieving the death of her estranged daughter. But really I wanted to tell the story of someone, through grief, exhuming their own life; I wanted to explore this strange painful impossible equation where life equals death and death life and on and on. So the story is about Yinka dying and Mojisola waking up.
The correlation between death and re-evaluating life seems very strong to me. Certainly death can be an impetus to those left behind to do something different with our own remaining days.
What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?
All my memories of trying to write the novel! It might be very geeky for some but I find it interesting the way a book turns through the process of writing it. In the final story Yinka takes her life but in earlier versions I skirted around this; I always knew part of Mojisola’s awakening would be sexual but only later fully dove into the world of kink and took her along with me. This kind of way of working – where you are somehow in negotiation with the text and characters even as you form them – is familiar from my two previous books as well.
That’s fascinating. Thanks for much for staying in with me and introducing An Unusual Grief. Let me give Linda’s Book Bag readers a few more details.
An Unusual Grief
How do you get to know your daughter when she is dead?
This is the question which takes a mother on a journey of self-discovery. When her daughter Yinka dies, Mojisola is finally forced to stop running away from the difficulties in their relationship, and also come to terms with Yinka the woman. Mojisola’s grief leads her on a journey of self-discovery, as she moves into her daughter’s apartment and begins to unearth the life Yinka had built for herself there, away from her family. Through stepping into Yinka’s shoes, Mojisola comes to a better understanding not only of her estranged daughter, but also herself, as she learns to carve a place for herself in the world beyond the labels of wife and mother.
A bold and unflinching tale of one women’s unconventional approach to life and loss.
An Unusual Grief is published by Cassava Republic and is available for purchase here.
About Yewande Omotoso
Yewande Omotoso was born in Barbados. She grew up in Nigeria and moved to South Africa in 1992. Yewande trained as an architect. After completing a Masters degree in Creative Writing, her debut novel Bom Boy was published in 2011 by Modjaji Books and in the US and Canada in 2019 by Catalyst Press. It won the 2012 South African Literary Award for First-Time Published Author, was shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize in South Africa as well as the M-Net Literary Awards 2012. Yewande was shortlisted for the 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature and a winner of the Africa Centre’s Artists in Residency Programme in 2014.
Her second novel, The Woman Next Door, was shortlisted for the 2017 University of Johannesburg Prize for South African Literature, the Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize and the 2018 International DUBLIN Literary Award. It was longlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and was finalist in 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Fiction. It was published by Chatto & Windus in 2016, and by Picador in the US, Ullstein in Germany and De Geus in Holland in 2017 and by 66th and 2nd in Italy in 2018. It was published by Zoe Editions in France in 2019 and a Korean edition is forthcoming. Yewande lives in Johannesburg.