LÁKÍRÍBOTO by Ayọ́délé Ọlọ́fintúádé | June Book of the Month Review

A furiously fierce revenge thriller, this flaming feminist queer title is not one for the faint-hearted. Fuelled by vengeance, witchcraft, and a strong sense of justice, we present the second of our two June Books of the Month: LÁKÍRÍBOTO.

Set in Nigeria from 2005 to 2015, Ayọ́délé Ọlọ́fintúádé shows insight into the many struggles women and the LGBTQIA+ community face in a country so bound by cis-heteronormative hegemony. Nigerian gender equality was reported at 0.33333% in 2020 (World Bank), and it’s a place where it’s still considered criminal to be queer, punishable by the death penalty (ILGA World Database, 2023). It is a country that is historically and culturally densely patriarchal – one only has to google ‘Nigerian gender inequality’ to be faced with pages upon pages of articles dedicated to the mass gender inequality and discrimination women and LGBTQIA+ people face, due to lack of rights and legal protection as well as deeply ingrained traditions and beliefs. With a past and present filled with discrimination, violence and repression, Nigeria’s queer and feminist communities are calling for urgent change.

Throughout Lákíríboto, rigid gender norms are the main restraint of the novel – the women are housemaids, mothers, wives, or child-bearers simply because of gender traditions enforced on them. The narrative centres on four women: Mọ́remí, Tọ́lá, Kudirat and Mọ́ríebá. When Mọ́remí’s grandmother dies, her aunt Mọ́ríebá wants to take her in but she is considered unsuitable by Olórí Ẹbí, the family patriarch. Tyrannical heteronormative norms force Mọ́ríebá and Mọ́remí apart as Mọ́ríebá dresses masculine, speaks her mind, is rich, single, young and queer – her existence borders on the criminal according to Nigerian laws. She acts with authority that threaten and outrage the men in her community, and they send away her beloved Mọ́remí. Mọ́remí is sent to work as a housemaid in ailing Tọ́lá’s abusive husband’s house, where she meets fellow housemaid Kudirat. Yet when Tọ́lá’s husband’s cruelty worsens beyond repulsive, a new figure emerges from within Tọ́lá, one full of rage, revenge, and retribution.

With elements of witchcraft, Yoruba culture, and folklore, these four women wrestle with the patriarchal restrictions of gender and identity, struggling against abuse, blackmail and oppressive heteronormative authority. Yet there is a fire within them that cannot be extinguished or forced into a submissive being.

And this is where the concept of Lákíríboto comes in.

Do not skip the foreword of this book, as Ayọ́délé Ọlọ́fintúádé gives an absorbing and fascinating context to Lákíríboto and the Yoruban language. It is a language untethered from gender separation, more connected to the core of humanity which flows by natural rhythm, not separated by boundaries. In that vein, the term Lákíríboto is not a restrictive label but one which aligns those who connect with its identity. It does not have a single definition but it is “a descriptor of biodiverse people” — trans, intersex, neurodiverse, free, unrestrained, unique: queer.

Wild, playful, daring and zealous, LÁKÍRÍBOTO will fill you up with a cascade of feminist fire and thrills and leave you with a hugely satisfying end that packs a punch, summoning the immense power of Lákíríboto.

Please reach out to your local Turnaround sales rep to order into your bookshop.

Lákíríboto by Ayọ́délé Ọlọ́fintúádé is out from Cipher Press on 29/06/2023

9781739220709 | Paperback | £10.99

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