My Sister, the Serial Killer – Satire meets slasher in this short, darkly funny hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends.
“Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer.”
Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead.
Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.
A kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where Korede works, is the bright spot in her life. She dreams of the day when he will realize they’re perfect for each other. But one day Ayoola shows up to the hospital uninvited and he takes notice. When he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and what she will do about it.
Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite has written a deliciously deadly debut that’s as fun as it is frightening
Book Review by Dave Schwinghammer
MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER, the subject of a recent TIME magazine review, was written by a Nigerian novelist, Oyinkan, Braithwaite, and as such is an intriguing read.
The book is not so much different than any other serial killer novel in respect to voice. There’s only the occasional dialect reference. Instead of the Canadian “eh?’ we get an “o”. Instead of maam we get “ma,” at least that’s my best guess, but it’s mostly told in standard English by an educated narrator.
The book starts with the murder of Koreda’s younger sister’s Ayoola’s boyfriend with a knife. She’s only 5′ 2” and he’s over six feet tall, but he wasn’t expecting her to stab him with a six inch pig-sticker she got from her father’s desk after he died. Rather than call the cops, Koreda, who happens to be a nurse, helps her clean up the mess and get rid of the body. We’re told this is the third boyfriend, which makes Ayoola a serial killer.
Koreda loves her sister; they slept together and occasionally still do, but only as normal sisters would. Nothing hinky there. There is lots of jealousy on Koreda’s part. Ayoola is very beautiful and she attracts men with little effort. Koreda is rather plain. Koreda is also in love with Tade a good-natured doctor at the hospital.
Koreda visits a man who has been in a coma for some time, thinking he’ll never wake up. She tells him all about her sister and the angst involved in not being able to bring herself to do anything about the murders. She’s implicated herself, after all.
Ayoola is also a fashion designer, her schooling paid for by a sugar daddy who also helped her start her business. They go off on a vacation in Dubai. Prior to this Koreda has easily snatched Tade away from Koreda, but she doesn’t seem to think there’s anything unusual about running off with another man. During the vacation, she changes her M.O. a bit. Of course she puts the weight on Koreda.
Oh, yes, the girls’ father was abusive; there’s a scene where he punishes Ayoola with his belt; Koreda tries to save her but gets in the way of the belt more than helping Ayoola.
So . . . Koreda uses their upbringing as an excuse for why Ayoola is doing what she’s doing. There’s another scene where Ayoola takes the blame for something Koreda did.
The climax arrives with a big complication. Somebody besides Koreda knows what Ayoola has been doing. Think about who that might be. And Ayoola is stabbed herself. Let’s just say she asked for it, but the wrong person pays when Koreda continues to protect her sister.
How will it all end?
“Feverishly hot.” —PAULA HAWKINS, author of GIRL ON THE TRAIN
“Lethally elegant.” —LUKE JENNINGS, author of KILLING EVE: Codename Villanelle
“Disturbing, sly and delicious.” —AYOBAMI ADEBAYO, author of STAY WITH ME
“A taut, rapidly paced thriller that pleasurably subverts serial killer and sisterhood tropes for a guaranteed fun afternoon.” —HUFFINGTON POST
“It’s Lagos noir—pulpy, peppery and sinister, served up in a comic deadpan…This book is, above all, built to move, to hurtle forward—and it does so, dizzyingly. There’s a seditious pleasure in its momentum. At a time when there are such wholesome and dull claims on fiction—on its duty to ennoble or train us in empathy—there’s a relief in encountering a novel faithful to art’s first imperative: to catch and keep our attention… This scorpion-tailed little thriller leaves a response, and a sting, you will remember.” —PARUL SEHGAL, NEW YORK TIMES
“Campy and delightfully naughty…A taut and darkly funny contemporary noir that moves at lightning speed, it’s the wittiest and most fun murder party you’ve ever been invited to.” —SAM IRBY, MARIE CLAIRE
“Braithwaite’s writing pulses with the fast, slick heartbeat of a YA thriller, cut through by a dry noir wit. That aridity is startling, a trait we might expect from someone older, more jaded—a Cusk, an Offill. But Braithwaite finds in young womanhood a reason to be bitter. At the center of these women’s lives is a knot of pain, and when it springs apart, it bloodies the world.” —NEW REPUBLIC
“This riveting, brutally hilarious, ultra-dark novel is an explosive debut by Oyinkan Braithwaite, and heralds an exciting new literary voice… Delicious.” —NYLON
“You can’t help flying through the pages..” —BUZZFEED
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About the Author
OYINKAN BRAITHWAITE is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at Kachifo, a Nigerian publishing house, and has been freelancing as a writer and editor since. In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top-ten spoken-word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam, and in 2016 she was a finalist for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She lives in Lagos, Nigeria