It’s only when you reach the end of Chinelo Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees, that you find her author’s note: “This novel attempts to give Nigeria’s marginalized LGBTQ citizens a more powerful voice, and a place in our nation’s history.” And Okparanta delivers, fearlessly. Moving beyond the narratives of trauma and captivity—war, women’s bodies, sexuality, religious and cultural mores—Okparanta’s novel is subversively hopeful, an unflinching reclamation of unheard voices. Dear Reader, meet Ijeoma, a young girl with whom your heart will soar and break. As she comes into her own, again and again, I dare you to look away.
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