Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Under the Udala Trees

Chinelo Okparanta

A deft balance between love and war, this is a compellingly stylistic depiction of a politically brutal suppression of same-sex relationships, interspersed with allegory, folklore and intransigent religiosity. The dizzying tale powerfully interweaves the internal turmoil and competing societal forces that means choosing between heart and tradition. Determined and daring in the face of hatred and persecution. Gripping storytelling.

Extract

Amina drew her thighs up to her chest and wrapped her arms around her legs.
I scattered the sand, erasing the sketch of the bird. I put down the drawing stick.
To my surprise, she picked it up and began drawing in the sand. She drew two figures who stood holding hands. Clouds made of circles hung above them.
She smiled when she was done, a half-smile.
'It’s a nice picture,' I said, looking at her.
She reached over and placed her hand above mine. 'Maybe just holding hands will be all it takes,' she said. 'Maybe just holding hands will be enough.'
She was cupping handfuls of sand with her free hand now, letting the grains trickle out between her fingers. I replied, 'Yes, maybe just holding hands will be enough.'

Parallels
  • The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
  • Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson
  • The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

Books with similar mood

Someone Else

Tonino Benacquista

Small Wars

Sadie Jones

Saltwater

Jessica Andrews

The Amber Fury

Natalie Haynes

The World Without Us

Mireille Juchau

Esperanza Street

Niyati Keni

Young Blood

Sifiso Mzobe

The Visiting Angel

Paul Wilson

The Russian Concubine

Kate Furnivall

High Risk

Matt Dickinson

How I Became a North Korean

Krys Lee

The Last Tiger

Tony Black

Chosen

Lesley Glaister

The Other Hand

Chris Cleave

Double Vision

Pat Barker

An American Marriage

Tayari Jones

All That is Solid Melts into Air

Darragh McKeon

Castle of Water

Dane Huckelbridge

Station Eleven

Emily St John Mandel

The Lost Word

Oya Baydar

Bliss

O Z Livaneli

The Bay of Naples

Alan Clews

A Heart of Stone

Renate Dorrestein

Sal

Mick Kitson

Odysseus Abroad

Amit Chaudhuri

Significance

Jo Mazelis

Flight Behaviour

Barbara Kingsolver

The Report

Jessica Francis Kane

The Memory of Love

Aminatta Forna

The Dirty South

Alex Wheatle

The Welsh Girl

Peter Ho Davies

The Optimists

Andrew Miller

Friendly Fire

Patrick Gale

Fragrant Harbour

John Lanchester

The Poet's Wife

Judith Allnatt

Canal Dreams

Iain Banks

Turning for Home

Barney Norris

First Spring Grass Fire

Rae Spoon

Ten Things I've Learnt About Love

Sarah Butler

Summertime, All the Cats are Bored

Philippe Georget

Rhumba

Elaine Proctor

The Book of Fate

Parinoush Saniee

Stranded

Emily Barr

Drifting House

Krys Lee

The End of Everything

Megan Abbott

Journey to the Stone Country

Alex Miller

The Big Snow

David Park

Cranberry Queen

Kathleen DeMarco

Apples

Richard Milward