Under the Udala Trees
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Long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
Nominated for the 2015 NAACP Image Awards (Outstanding Literary Work of Fiction)
Nominated for the 2015 Nigerian Writers Awards (Young Motivational Writer of the Year)
New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Inspired by Nigeria's folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees is a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.
Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls.
by now, if he was not beforehand already so. It appeared that his flesh had been eaten into, likely by the same animals whose tracks she had seen earlier outside. She continued to scream, and several villagers came running in response. She felt their hands on her, their attempts to hold her, to calm her. “Rapum aka!” she screamed. Leave me alone! “E metukwana m aka!” Don’t touch me! She decided then and there that Aba was no better than Ojoto, at least not in the way she had hoped, this fact of
My head felt as if it were about to explode. Did she not realize what she was saying about the grammar school teacher and his wife and couples like them? I felt a million questions churning in my mind, the sorts of questions that might only have exasperated Mama more. I could have gone ahead and asked them, but the questions were like tiny bubbles in my head. I could feel them floating around, but they were either too small to amount yet to anything or too busy floating this way and that; I
incident, Amina and I did not eat together, did not meet to go to the river, barely spoke to each other on our way to and from classes. About the third Saturday after the dream, I was getting fed up with the way things were, fed up that everything between us should suddenly change again, and all on account of a stupid dream. All day that Saturday, I had stayed in the library, hoping that Amina would stop in, but she didn’t. Now the sun was setting, and though I was not outside with the rest of
tumbling from her mouth in a sputtering rage: “What kind of man pollutes his own land and his own house by allowing himself to be killed in it? Lucky for him that there’s a war going on, so he cannot entirely be blamed for taking his own life. Lucky for him that his death can simply be explained as just another war death. But still, the atrocity!” Our bedrooms, both on the second story of the house, had been destroyed by the same bombs that had killed Papa, and since there was a chance they
a small ixora flower and placed it in my hair. If my child were to be a girl, I would pick even more of them and place them like decorations all around her little head. The night before, Chibundu and I had been at it like a baboon and a leopard, snapping at each other at the supper table, each of us threatening to pounce on the other. “This food is tasteless,” he said. “Then next time you can make your food yourself.” “I go to work all day and you have the audacity to look at me and tell me