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Book Review: Butter Honey Pig Bread by Fransesca Ekwuyasi

Submitted by Editor2 on 12 November 2023

By Lenient Amidu

Reading Francesca Ekwuyasi's superb debut novel is like stuffing your face with a delectable dish. Every chapter is an introduction to a new palate, leaving the reader wanting more.

Ekwuyasi's prose is elegant and vivid, portraying a bright picture of Lagos, London, France, and Canada. Readers will find themselves appreciating the culinary pleasures detailed in the book, particularly the sensory descriptions of food.

The work is centered on three complex and wonderfully depicted Nigerian women: Kambirinachi, Taiye, and Kehinde. Kambirinachi, a mother and her twin children, Taiye, and Kehinde, struggle with the challenges of belonging to each other and existing in two worlds.
Kambirinachi is struggling to remain afloat in this world and the one inside of her.
Her twin girls; strangers to each other, trying to come back home.

The story is rich with Yoruba and Igbo mythology, delving into the sacred intricacies of Ogbanje and Ibeji, which Ekwuyasi deftly weaves into their individual journeys to self-acceptance and reconciliation.

Ekwuyasi writes about women so beautifully and truthfully. Another refreshing experience is that Butter Honey Pig Bread does not sugar coat trauma or dismiss its repercussions. The book is a simple, glorious witness to the frailty of motherhood, the gaping holes in sisterhood, the fluid boundary between identity and truth, queer love, friendship, forgiveness, and the intricacies of family.

Readers who enjoy stories from the desks of African diasporic writers would love this book. 

Butter Honey Pig Bread was a finalist for CBC's Canada Reads and was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, a Lambda Literary Award, a Governor General's Literary Award, the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, and the ReLit Award.


Lenient Amidu is a writer and podcaster. She enjoys reading African Literature and listening to spoken word poetry albums.