THE PLOT: ‘Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?’ by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn is a contemporary novel about a British-Nigerian woman who is looking for love. Thirty-one years old and still pining for her ex, Yinka is scared that she’ll never find a husband. And it doesn’t help that her younger sister is married and pregnant, while her Mum and aunties are desperately praying for her to meet someone. So, when her cousin gets engaged, Yinka is determined to find a date for the wedding. But, in trying to find a partner, will she lose herself?
RATING: This novel was fast-paced and fun so it’s four stars from me. I raced through this book in a couple of days because I could not stop reading. As an unmarried thirty-one year-old British-Nigerian from South London, I’m from a similar background to the main character so her relationships with her family really resonated with me. Fair warning – a lot of people will find Yinka cringey and annoying. However, I think that’s what makes this book so entertaining. You can see the car crash coming from a mile off, but you can’t do anything to stop it.
GOOD BITS: The family and friendship dynamics are what makes this book sing. Although the main storyline may seem a bit basic (i.e. girl needs a date) there were a lot of subtleties woven in, such as how Yinka relates to her aunties and cousins, and how this affects her mental health. These subplots added so much richness and texture to the narrative, elevating it beyond a standard romance. I also loved how the author experimented with different storytelling devices, such as texts, emails and voicemails. These added a sprinkle of relatable realism, which made me feel like I was part of Yinka’s friendship group too.
NOT SO GOOD BITS: The reason why I haven’t given this book a full five stars is a matter of personal taste. My taste skews slightly more upmarket/book club, whereas I think this is very commercial. In my opinion, the first-person present-tense voice meant the writing style lacked subtext. For example, there were a lot of short sentences starting with ‘I’ so it felt like Yinka was over-explaining herself and there wasn’t much room for description and imagery. Also, I think this was edited to appeal to non-Black audiences so there is a lot of over-explanation of Black culture that I don’t think was always necessary.
OVERALL: I’d recommend this book to lovers of ‘Ghosts’ by Dolly Alderton, ‘Queenie’ by Candice Carty-Williams and ‘The Pact We Made’ by Layla Alammar. However, I think this book will appeal to anyone who has suffered through the modern dating scene or dealt with family pressure to live a “conventional” lifestyle. This book is a realistic, nuanced and exciting portrayal of British-Nigerian culture and South London and I’d urge people to read it.
Thank you to Viking Books for my #gifted copy. Yinka will be published on 31st March 2022 in the UK and is available to pre-order now.