Butter Honey Pig Bread: A Novel
Paperback | Jan 2021 | Arsenal Pulp Press | 9781551528236 | 320pp | 228x152mm | GEN | AUD$29.99, NZD$34.99
Longlisted for the $1000,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize in Canada
Spanning three continents, Butter Honey Pig Bread tells the interconnected stories of three Nigerian women — Kambirinachi and her twin daughters, Kehinde and Taiye. Kambirinachi believes that she is an Ogbanje, or an Abiku, a non-human spirit that plagues a family with misfortune by being born and then dying in childhood to cause a human mother misery. She has made the unnatural choice of staying alive to love her human family but lives in fear of the consequences of her decision.
Kambirinachi and her daughters become estranged from one another because of a trauma that Kehinde experiences in childhood, which leads her to move away and cut off all contact. She ultimately finds her path as an artist and seeks to raise a family of her own, despite her fear that she won't be a good mother. Meanwhile,Taiye is plagued by guilt for what her sister suffered and also runs away, attempting to fill the void of that lost relationship with casual flings with women. She eventually discovers a way out of her stifling loneliness through a passion for food and cooking.
But now, after more than a decade of living apart, Taiye and Kehinde have returned home to Lagos. It is here that the three women must face each other and address the wounds of the past if they are to reconcile and move forward.
For readers of African diasporic authors such as Teju Cole and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Butter Honey Pig Bread is a story of choices and their consequences, of motherhood, of the malleable line between the spirit and the mind, of finding new homes and mending old ones, of voracious appetites, of queer love, of friendship, faith, and above all, family.
'In this remarkable debut novel, a family of Nigerian women attempt to carefully tiptoe around an unspeakable tragedy. Through masterfully crafted scenes full of sumptuous imagery, readers are moved, just as these characters are, by forces beyond their control, beyond their lifetimes.' — Catherine Hernandez, author of Scarborough
'This multi-continental tale is alight with the force of its characters' sway between history and the present, home and country, family - chosen and otherwise. Where expectations of genre leave their own delicious signatures across fabulism, the folkloric, the strange, and a mercurial realism, the queerness and sensuality of this debut novel excites. Butter Honey Pig Bread roves taste-first through the ingredients of things that mark the modern, if enduring, currents of familial and amorous bonds by a writer of ample talent.' — Canisia Lubrin, author of The Dyzgraphxst
Francesca Ekwuyasi is a new and exciting voice, the kind of writer whose work both challenges and enlightens. With Butter Honey Pig Bread, she has written a deeply moving novel that explores trauma, healing, and the beautifully complex relationships between mothers and daughters with vivid honesty. This is an inspiring debut.' — Zeba Blay, senior culture writer, Huffington Post
'A luminous talent reveals itself in debut novelist Francesca Ekwuyasi's Butter Honey Pig Bread. This intergenerational tale of three Nigerian women finding their way through a maze of love, memory, and trauma weaves a haunting spell over the reader from its very first word. Ekwuyasi's sensuous prose, deft plotting, and keen insights into human nature combine to form a vision that feels like peering deep into the souls of a trio of dear friends. At once delicious and heartbreaking, Butter Honey Pig Bread will leave the reader full, yet longing for more.' — Kai Cheng Thom, author of I Hope We Choose Love
'In this incandescent book, Francesca Ekwuyasi travels across continents and time to tell the story of an Ogbanje mother and her two estranged daughters in sensuous, mythic prose that pulled me into their interwoven narratives. Dissolution of spirit and mind, alienation, painful familial rifts, and queer desire reverberate through this gorgeous debut. Ekwuyasi's wondrous way with language is a profound gift.' — Tanais, author of Bright Lines