REVIEW: On Black Sisters’ Street by Chika Unigwe

black sisters'
Publish Date: September 2nd 2010
Publisher: Vintage Books
ASIN/ISBN: 9780099523949
Format: Paperback
Genre: African Literature, Contemporary
Pages: 298
Date Finished: November 4, 2014

On Black Sisters Street tells the haunting story of four very different women who have left their African homeland for the riches of Europe—and who are thrown together by bad luck and big dreams into a sisterhood that will change their lives.

Each night, Sisi, Ama, Efe, and Joyce stand in the windows of Antwerp’s red-light district, promising to make men’s desires come true—if only for half an hour. Pledged to the fierce Madam and a mysterious pimp named Dele, the girls share an apartment but little else—they keep their heads down, knowing that one step out of line could cost them a week’s wages. They open their bodies to strangers but their hearts to no one, each focused on earning enough to get herself free, to send money home or save up for her own future.

Then, suddenly, a murder shatters the still surface of their lives. Drawn together by tragedy and the loss of one of their own, the women realize that they must choose between their secrets and their safety. As they begin to tell their stories, their confessions reveal the face in Efe’s hidden photograph, Ama’s lifelong search for a father, Joyce’s true name, and Sisi’s deepest secrets—-and all their tales of fear, displacement, and love, concluding in a chance meeting with a handsome, sinister stranger.


Parameters of happiness change.

The first 40 or so pages of this book bored me to death. Reading was a drag. I wasn’t into the story and it was all floating about my head. I decided to press on and not give up on it so early (mostly because I bought it myself and my friends said it was actually an enjoyable book).

I think that the transitions from past to present to past … could have been done better. The flow wasn’t very good and sometimes you’re stuck wondering what is happening. Also, in some parts, we got glimpses of the future during the present. The whole thing was a bit confusing and made it all very difficult to read.
The author tried with the pidgin English, but it could have been a lot better. The move from pidgin to proper English didn’t work out properly during some conversations. A whole sentence that could have just been pidgin was written in pidgin and proper English combined.

On the plus side, the story is very engaging and enthralling. Once the women start to speak about themselves, it gets better. The use of imagery is amazing. I could visualise the scenes very easily and it felt like I was propped right in the middle of the story. The pace is slow, but not too slow. It’s a brilliant book and I’ve already read it twice in two days.

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5 Stars

I didn’t like the book in the beginning, but it grew on me. I loved it. It’s a great book.

Have you read On Black Sisters’ Street? What did you think of it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments


One thought on “REVIEW: On Black Sisters’ Street by Chika Unigwe

  1. I thought it was slow at first but learning about the characters was so fascinating! I love how well rounded and multi dimensional they were. Chika Unigwe is good!


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