This blend of red, black and gold infuses a red-hot feminist narrative within the narrative of A United Kingdom of Women and The Prize for Fiction winner Toyin Ojih Odutola, her third collection of short stories, published by Bloomsbury in North America and UK.
I chose Odutola’s A United Kingdom of Women for the Big Read for the TRUC The Greatest Women and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Salon sponsored by CBC Books.
The book tells of the lives of six women’s right activists who fought for universal voting rights in Canada from the 1970s to the 1990s. It addresses social, cultural and political issues that still plague our society today. It narrates the stories of six women from diverse backgrounds who shared their stories in six innovative, but distinct countries – Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. Each woman chooses different countries to study, travel, and live. Her choices are, in a sense, partially dictated by her personal ideas of social and cultural roles for women in her own country. Each of the women speaks of their experiences from very different points of view.
Mesmeric Alternate Universes is exciting in its amazing scope. The range of spaces and ideas within each story interweaves in a graceful, poetic and imaginative way; adding a visual element that challenges our imagination by showcasing the subtexts of each story. We are reminded that love and other relationships may not mean the same things in each of the countries, and also offered a reference point of kinship and tradition.
The premiere of A United Kingdom of Women and the winners of the Canadian Giller Prize, Man Booker Prize, Norton Young Prize and Caine Prize were almost simultaneous events at the Trillium Bookstore in Vancouver on Saturday, May 12, 2018. The light and airy event was also held in Toronto at Powerhouse Arena.