SHORTLISTED for the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2021 • FINALIST for the Nigeria Prize for Literature 2021 • WINNER of the SprinNG Women Authors Prize 2020 • WINNER of the Best International Fiction Book Award, Sharjah International Book Fair 2019
“The Son of the House is a compelling novel about two women caught in a constricting web of tradition, class, gender, and motherhood.” — FOREWORD REVIEWS, starred review
The lives of two Nigerian women divided by class and social inequality intersect when they're kidnapped, held captive, and forced to await their fate together.
In the Nigerian city of Enugu, young Nwabulu, a housemaid since the age of ten, dreams of becoming a typist as she endures her employers’ endless chores. She is tall and beautiful and in love with a rich man’s son.
Educated and privileged, Julie is a modern woman. Living on her own, she is happy to collect the gold jewellery lovestruck Eugene brings her, but has no intention of becoming his second wife.
When a kidnapping forces Nwabulu and Julie into a dank room years later, the two women relate the stories of their lives as they await their fate.
Pulsing with vitality and intense human drama, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s debut is set against four decades of vibrant Nigeria, celebrating the resilience of women as they navigate and transform what remains a man’s world.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Two remarkable women share their life stories with each other and with us in Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s enlightening debut novel. Set in modern Nigeria, the book centres on Julie and Nwabulu, who are thrown together when they’re both kidnapped. Each has an intense history to share, setting the scene for a fast and intimate friendship. After surviving rape and exile, the savvy Nwabulu has lofty ambitions to establish herself as a businesswoman. Julie has lived a life of privilege, accepting her place as the second wife in a polygamous marriage. As the women bare their most sacred truths, they come to a shocking revelation. Onyemelukwe-Onuobia shines a blazing light on the gender inequities of Nigerian society. More importantly, her wildly compelling tale shows us how the power of women’s connections can rival the tyranny of patriarchy.
Onyemelukwe-Onuobia's striking debut tackles gender inequality, abuse, and classism in a story of friendship and resilience set in Nigeria. Nwabulu, orphaned at eight, is sent by her wicked stepmother to work as a housemaid, first at 10 and then again at 12, in Enugu. At 16, she falls in love with Urenna, the only son of a wealthy family. Their relationship ends after Urenna gets Nwabulu pregnant and denies ever knowing her. Nwabulu is then sent home by her employers to "the red dusty earth of village," where she is forced to marry Nathan, whose grieving mother wants a grandchild to carry on the family name, and who ends up taking the child from Nwabulu. The narrative also follows a teacher named Julie, who tricks her married lover into leaving his wife for her by pretending to be pregnant. Thirty years later, an unlikely friendship blooms between Julie and Nwabulu, but it's only when both women are abducted by kidnappers that they discover that they have a deeper bond. Onyemelukwe-Onuobia's intimate study of the issues facing contemporary Nigeria resonates, and her masterly storytelling makes this consistently entertaining. The result is as moving as it is thought-provoking. \n