With echoes of Toni Morrison's Beloved, Yejidé's novel explores a forgotten quadrant of Washington, DC, and the ghosts that haunt it.
"Yejidé’s writing captures both real news and spiritual truths with the deftness and capacious imagination of her writing foremothers: Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison and N.K. Jemisin...Creatures of Passage is that rare novel that dispenses ancestral wisdom and literary virtuosity in equal measure."
"Creatures of Passage resists comparison. It's reminiscent of Beloved as well as the Odyssey, but perhaps its most apt progenitor is the genre of epic poems performed by the djelis of West Africa...All these otherwise clashing elements become, in this cast, a cohesive whole, telling us that this, too, is America."
--New York Times Book Review
"In its luminous prose, and its nods to mysticism and myth, the novel brings to mind the best of Toni Morrison. It’s that good."
--Washington Post, One of the Best Books about Washington, DC, recommended by George Pelecanos
"Yejidé's surreal new novel has no shortage of otherworldly surprises, but it's her this-worldly protagonist who steals the show...Informed by a richly woven mythology and propelled by themes of regret and revenge, Creatures of Passage has earned some apt comparisons to Toni Morrison's Beloved."
--Philadelphia Inquirer, One of the Best Books of Winter 2021
"Written over the course of 17 years, Morowa Yejidé‘s new book, Creatures of Passage, is set in Anacostia in 1977 and follows twins--one living, one dead--who share names with the Egyptian gods Nephthys and Osiris. But that barely hints at the richness and complexity of the book’s many strands."
"Hauntingly magical, this sophomore novel by Morowa Yejidé centers a young woman dealing with the loss of her brother, her young great-nephew who mysteriously shows up at her door and Washington, DC, the city that provides an otherworldly backdrop to this imaginative thriller."
--Ms. Magazine, A Most Anticipated Book of 2021
“Morowa Yejidé's Creatures of Passage gives readers a chance to experience grief and intergenerational trauma in a unique way."
"This enthralling, otherworldly story follows Nepthys Kinwell, a taxi driver in Washington, D.C., as she grapples with grief."
"Comparisons to Toni Morrison's masterpiece Beloved always perk up our ears, but in the case of Morowa Yejidé’s Creatures of Passage the hype is warranted...History-haunted in the best sense, readers shouldn’t miss this mythic thriller."
--Chicago Review of Books
Nephthys Kinwell is a taxi driver of sorts in Washington, DC, ferrying passengers in a 1967 Plymouth Belvedere with a ghost in the trunk. Endless rides and alcohol help her manage her grief over the death of her twin brother, Osiris, who was murdered and dumped in the Anacostia River.
Unknown to Nephthys when the novel opens in 1977, her estranged great-nephew, ten-year-old Dash, is finding himself drawn to the banks of that very same river. It is there that Dash--reeling from having witnessed an act of molestation at his school, but still questioning what and who he saw--has charmed conversations with a mysterious figure he calls the "River Man."
When Dash arrives unexpectedly at Nephthys's door bearing a cryptic note about his unusual conversations with the River Man, Nephthys must face what frightens her most.
Morowa Yejidé's deeply captivating novel shows us an unseen Washington filled with otherworldly landscapes, flawed super-humans, and reluctant ghosts, and brings together a community intent on saving one young boy in order to reclaim itself.
A woman drives a haunted Plymouth through 1977 Washington, D.C., in Yejid 's ambitious latest (after Time of the Locust). In the city's Anacostia neighborhood, Nephthys Kinwell drinks to numb the pain of losing her twin brother, Osiris, and with the ghost of a girl in the trunk of her car, ferries people whose voices she hears through fog that accumulates in the car. Osiris was lynched and dumped in the Anacostia River and remains restless in death, while his 10-year-old grandson, Dash, is taunted by schoolmates for communing with a mysterious figure on the Anacostia banks only he can see, whom he calls the River Man. Then there's a janitor at Dash's Catholic school, Mercy Ratchet, who was sexually assaulted by a priest as a boy and now preys on young children. Yejid creates a tapestry of interconnected stories of guilt, loss, love, grief, justice, and restoration as the story builds toward an intense climax involving Mercy and Dash, and one of Nephthys's fares, known only as the "colonel's wife," confronts her own family tragedy. While at times the book can feel didactic, with the characters very obviously meant as metaphors for historical trauma, Yejid 's prose is often stunning. At its best, the story's rich texture evokes the ghost stories of Toni Morrison.