By Angela Ajayi Star Tribune
If Lizzie Damilola Blackburn’s debut novel, “Yinka, Where’s Your Huzband?” was to become a television sitcom, it could air episode after episode, season after season, without losing steam on the story material. Cheeky and entertaining, the novel, which spans just six months in the chaotic life of its British-Nigerian protagonist Yinka, packs plenty of cross-cultural drama and social commentary with a laid-back conversational style.
Add romantic and professional misadventures and complicated relationships between four black women living in England, two of whom are Yinka’s cousins, and you have the makings of comedic gold.
Don’t be fooled by the slow and somewhat clunky start to the novel. A festive baby shower for Yinka’s sister turns into religious prayers, one from Aunt Debby for Yinka to find a husband, whom the book defines as “a nonexistent man in a nonexistent marriage whose whereabouts are often asked, usually by Nigerian mothers and aunts of single Anglo-Nigerian women.
For Yinka, just 31, single and financially independent, there’s plenty of conventional and traditional imported from Nigeria to scoff at here. But like most societal and family pressures, all of this can have a psychological impact on a young person.
After her cousin Rachel excitedly announces a shower engagement, Yinka embarks on Operation Wedding Date, crafting a detailed plan with “goals”, “tasks”, “timelines” and “key performance indicators”. to find a date at Rachel’s wedding later. during this year. Not that Yinka is child’s play. She admits to being a misfit. She becomes desperate for approval, especially her own mother’s, and is even willing to lie along the way. (Again, much like a character in a sitcom.)