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The Nigerwife

A Novel

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About The Book

GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK

“The perfect beach read…catapults you into a world that most of us have never seen before—and will have you glued to every page.” —HuffPost

White Lotus meets Big Little Lies” (Good Morning America) in this riveting domestic drama about a young woman who goes missing in Lagos, Nigeria, and her estranged auntie who will stop at nothing to find her.

Nicole Oruwari has the perfect life: a hand­some husband, a palatial house in the heart of glittering Lagos, and a glamorous group of friends. She left gloomy London and a troubled family past behind for sunny, moneyed Lagos, becoming part of the Nigerwives—a com­munity of foreign women married to Nigerian men.

But when Nicole disappears without a trace after a boat trip, the cracks in her so-called perfect life start to show. As the investigation turns up nothing but dead ends, her auntie Claudine decides to take matters into her own hands. Armed with only a cell phone and a plane ticket to Nigeria, she digs into her niece’s life and uncov­ers a hidden side filled with dark secrets, isolation, and even violence. But the more she discovers about Nicole, the more Claudine’s own buried history threatens to come to light.

An inventively told and keenly observant debut novel, The Nigerwife offers a razor-sharp look at the bonds of family, the echoing consequences of secrets, and whether we can ever truly outrun our past.

Excerpt

Chapter One: Claudine: After CHAPTER ONE CLAUDINE After
THE LAST upload had been six months ago, in January. Nicole had posted only one photo of her, Tonye, and their two little sons next to a Batman-themed birthday cake outside in the garden. She looked very pretty posing in a white summer dress, Tonye’s arm around her. Claudine traced their smiles with her finger.

“Phone off now, please!” The air hostess waited impatiently in the aisle until Claudine pressed the power button and the screen went dark.

Claudine settled back in her window seat and watched the Heathrow tarmac fall away. Slanted raindrops lashed the glass. Rain, rain, go away. She wouldn’t miss the awful British summer. A thundering went through the aircraft, then a billowing sheet of cloud enveloped them, followed by a great calm and relief that it was too late to change her mind.

Through the intercom came the pilot’s announcement that the flight would be six hours to Lagos, arriving around 6 p.m. local time. The weather would be 75 degrees Fahrenheit at their destination and sunny. She hoped she wouldn’t get to the house too late to ask questions. She didn’t want to have to wait until tomorrow. Another night with Nicole still missing, no word on whether she was alive or dead, was bad enough. But at least Claudine would be there. Waiting for news thousands of miles away back in London, powerless to help, unable to do anything but watch the flies creep from one end of the window to the other, had been unbearable.

Penny hadn’t thought Claudine should go to Nigeria to find out what had happened. “This ain’t on you, Claud,” her sister had said. “You might’ve raised her, but you and Nicole haven’t been close for years. Why go looking for someone who left and didn’t look back?” Penny’s question was fair. When Claudine didn’t respond, she added, “It’s not safe in Nigeria. Isn’t there a war going on there with the Muslims? Boko—Boko something? They kidnapped all those girls. Hundreds of them. And I saw this program on BBC Two—Welcome to Lagos, it was called—where everyone lived on a rubbish dump. Everyone. They lived on it. The rubbish! How you supposed to find Nicole in a place like that? Bet Tonye forced her to move there.”

Here we go again with the Nigeria-bashing convention, Claudine had thought. Never mind Nicole’s husband and picture-perfect life. Being happy for someone was too much to ask in their family, so they had to peck it apart at every opportunity, going on about Nigeria as if Jamaica didn’t have any poverty or corruption. What did they know about it? If you believed the pictures posted on social media, Nicole lived in a mansion by the water with a beautiful garden and a swimming pool. She had expensive clothes, even those shoes with red bottoms. She enjoyed parties and holidays, surrounded herself with rich friends.

But Claudine had learned not to get into it with Penny, whose hindsight was as bad as her foresight, always coming up with ridiculous revelations about things that happened years ago, like her insistence that her name was actually Pauletta, but Mummy had changed it to Penny on account of her being brown like a penny. That she knew there was something wrong with Len. And now, that Nicole had been forced to move to Nigeria. Honestly, you couldn’t make up half of what came out of Penny’s mouth.

Funny, Penny had been the first to cry when Claudine relayed the news about Nicole’s disappearance, that she had gone on a boat trip in Lagos and hadn’t come back. That there had been no sign of her since, that Tonye thought it was possible she had drowned in the lagoon. Claudine hadn’t cried. She wasn’t a crier. What good would crying do anyway? She had simply watched Mummy, Penny, and Michael—what was left of the Roberts family in the UK after almost fifty years—carrying on for Jesus as if she’d announced Nicole was dead. A Punch and Judy puppet show in the simple dining room of their nondescript semi with double-glazed windows in the middle of a street one wouldn’t remember in deepest, darkest South London. That’s how it went with them. Penny, crying for attention; Michael, overexcited, cursing at the moon; Mummy, striking her chest with her fist, calling on God with all his known aliases, meantime her eyes probably drier than concrete. None of it meant a damn thing. If Nicole was dead, all the howling in the world wouldn’t bring her back.

Claudine’s coworkers at Fashion Maxx were less fussed about her going to Nigeria. They helped her find some things she might need on the trip. A strong cross-body handbag with hidden inner pockets so she couldn’t easily be pickpocketed. Some running shoes for all the walking she would have to do, and plenty of T-shirts. It was bound to be very hot.

“They say the sky’s much bigger over in Africa,” said one coworker, who had never left the UK due to a fear of flying and her dislike of the French. Everything she knew about the world came from the Pick Me Up! magazines she read on her lunch breaks. Claudine hadn’t told them the full story, only that she urgently had to visit her niece, who had married a Nigerian man and was living out there. Another coworker’s advice was more practical. She’d spent her childhood in Nigeria but had been wrestling with mystery immigration problems ever since her arrival in the UK and couldn’t go back. “You’ll be fine,” she had said. “Just stick with the people you know.”

That could be a problem.

“Complimentary champagne, madam?” the hostess asked.

Claudine took the glass, resting it on the mini tray table beside her. “Thank you. What movie are you showing today?”

“You choose the movie. Use your fingers and select whatever you want to watch.” The hostess pressed the screen, flashing up the various options. “First time flying?”

“It’s been a while,” said Claudine. “And I’ve never sat in business class before.”

“This is premium economy, but we’ll take the compliment.” The hostess laughed. Claudine was confused. The last time she had flown, thirty years ago, there’d been no such thing as premium economy. She’d sat in economy. So what was the point of business? What on earth was in first class? She couldn’t imagine. Still, nice of Tonye to pay for it all. Tonye had also said someone would meet her when she got off the plane and escort her to a car that would take her to the compound. He didn’t have to do all this. He hadn’t wanted her to come at all.

The hostess demonstrated how to recline the chair, upending Claudine so her feet jerked into the air. “And here’s your menu card,” she said, tucking a fancy folded menu into the seat pocket. “We’re likely to experience a little turbulence in this weather, so keep your seat belt on, and if you need anything at all, I’m right here.” She tapped her name badge. “Annie.”

Turbulence? Lord have mercy. The seat next to Claudine was vacant, but most of the nearby rows were filled. Many passengers seemed to be Nigerian, some already dressed for home in their brightly patterned fabrics. Just like Jamaicans heading home, they’d paid no mind to the baggage allowance and stuffed the overhead bins to bursting. She’d barely found room for her one carry-on. If they were to hit turbulence, the bins would fly open and the bric-a-brac would fly out, killing them all.

Claudine gulped her champagne quickly. Mind you, what were a few clouds compared to the storm she was likely flying into? She pictured the Oruwaris waiting for her to arrive, Tonye’s father grim-faced as he had been throughout Tonye and Nicole’s nuptials. “Like King Jaffe Joffer in Coming to America,” Penny had hissed, watching them from across the aisle.

Two days ago, Claudine had called Tonye. “No word about the boat? Or the people Nicole was with? Have you checked all the hospitals?”

“My people are working through all that,” he had said. “We can only wait.”

“But it’s been almost a week already. What are you waiting for?” Claudine thought of manhunts she had seen on the telly. Volunteers combing the forest with torches. Police out with their dogs to search for scents. TV appeals. It didn’t sound like anything similar was happening in Lagos to find Nicole.

“Well, we’ve had to rule out other things. Kidnapping. Her not wanting to make contact. Various factors. But let’s talk again in a few days. If I find out anything in the meantime, I’ll be sure to let you know.” He cleared his throat.

Claudine was quiet for a moment. Let you know. Something in his tone had sounded painfully familiar, reminded her of her youngest sister Jackie’s death. That was what the family liaison officer had said while looking at his watch. And he never did come back to let them know exactly how Jackie had died. It had been a formality, just something said to end a conversation.

“What do you mean about her not wanting to make contact?” she finally asked.

“Sorry, what?”

“You said you had to rule out Nicole not wanting to make contact.”

“It’s… something the police said.”

“But not wanting to make contact? Why wouldn’t she want to?”

“It doesn’t mean anything. Rest assured. Just procedure. They consider all possibilities.”

Claudine breathed deeply. “I think I’d better come out there, Tonye.”

“Out where?” he said, suddenly sounding much closer to the receiver. “To Lagos?”

“Yes, there are too many unanswered questions. I want to be there, talk to the police, help any way I can.”

“But, auntie, why?” he said. “Everything is under control. We are talking to the police.”

“So I shouldn’t come?”

“I mean, come if you’d like. I really don’t see what you’re going to do here. You’ve not even been to Nigeria before. We have a certain way of doing things.”

“I’d like to see the children,” she said firmly. “And at least one relative should be representing our family. We have a certain way of doing things too.”

Tonye had little to say after that, and the call soon ended. He’d even asked why. Why? As if she had no business going. Like a typical man, he’d assumed she’d go along with anything he had to say, and he seemed shocked that she, any of them, would care enough to travel there. Bloody cheek. It was difficult to shake off the feeling that Tonye was holding back a lot more. But at least it gave her hope that Nicole was still alive. She could be stranded somewhere, lying in a hospital, hurt but alive. Until Claudine laid eyes on Nicole’s body herself, she wouldn’t believe it.

Claudine fiddled with the entertainment screen and scrolled through the movie selection, deciding on Unforgiven. She didn’t think she had seen it before, but the opening scene of a house, a tree, and someone digging underneath it seemed familiar. The house was plain. The tree was bare, but its network of branches fanned up and outward across the sunset, shading the person digging. Of course she thought of 49 Nedford Road and the pear tree by the living room window that grew thirsty and full of itself in summer, shrank shorn and sharp in winter.

Even if she had already watched Unforgiven, it would have been years ago, and so much from the past was hazy now, things done or said completely forgotten. Time didn’t heal exactly, but crushed memories under its weight until they were no longer visible. Mercifully in most cases. At her age, you had to really want to remember, and in her shoes, who would want to? Looking back hurt too much. What if she’d done this differently, that differently? Never gone to the park that day? Life was hard enough without dragging all that shit along too.

Oh, Nicole, she fretted. Where are you?

She forced herself to pay attention to Unforgiven. It was the kind of movie she liked, with all the elements of a good Western, a tin-pot town in the middle of nowhere, pretty women in distress, everyone hell-bent on justice. Clint Eastwood. Good old Clint. It was no Rawhide, though. The memory of those Saturday mornings, curled up in front of the gas fire as a child, watching Rawhide with her siblings, flashed up, vivid, scalding, too painful to enjoy. It wasn’t a childhood you would wish on anyone. It wasn’t a childhood.

In her line of sight across the aisle were two little girls: one whose black shoes barely touched the floor and a slightly older one who held her hand protectively. Similarly dressed in pink cardigans with white blouses underneath, and sky-blue skirts with lacy knee-high socks. Sitting upright, so prim and proper on the wide seats, they looked just like dollies on the shelf in a toy store.

When food was served, Claudine nibbled at the chicken and jollof rice she had chosen. At least their food was nice and spicy. She’d never been one to jump to conclusions like Mummy and Penny did, that everything Nigerian was “bad” and “wicked.” She’d liked Tonye the first time Nicole brought him to Nedford Road. “Too dark,” Mummy had whispered loudly, squinting at him suspiciously. But even Mummy couldn’t deny he was very handsome. Not a pretty face. No fine features and long lashes, not a light-skinned Harry Belafonte, whose songs Mummy would hum while kneading wet dough into dumplings, but a tall, broad-shouldered man with large eyes and a smile that made everyone feel happy. His beauty was in his solidness. His large, capable hands, his self-assurance. Everything about him looked stable. Regal. He looked you right in the eye when he spoke. And so polite, so charming, responding graciously as Mummy peppered him with ridiculous questions like, did they eat monkeys in Nigeria?

But since Tonye’s call, she didn’t know about him anymore. He’d sounded so cold, so emotionless. No tears. No urgency. Nothing you’d expect from someone whose wife had gone missing. Polite as ever, but no answers to any of her questions. Said he didn’t know anything except that she went on a boat trip on Sunday, July 6, and didn’t make it home. He couldn’t tell Claudine who Nicole had gone on the trip with, where she went, what had happened to the boat, if she was dead or alive or was kidnapped or even had just run off somewhere. Claudine had barely slept for worrying about it.

The last photo of Tonye and Nicole showed a man in love with his wife, but pictures could lie. Men lied all the time. Men held you in their arms and lied and smiled and lied. Too lie! Even with their last breath. Tea arrived. An extra bag, milk and two sugars. She sipped, and felt better. A good cuppa always made things better.

Claudine glanced over at the girls again. The older one was helping the younger one with her snacks. Something about them reminded her of herself and Penny. They must have been about the same ages when they’d traveled to the UK from Jamaica for the first time. But these girls looked impossibly young. So vulnerable. Like babies. Even though she’d been practically the same age as Penny, she’d always mothered her like that little girl was doing now—taking the other girl’s hand and telling her everything was going to be okay. Claudine knew what that felt like. The crushing weight of responsibility. To step up when no one else would.

CLAUDINE OPENED her eyes to lights on in the cabin and a flurry of activity as passengers threw off their blankets and made last dashes to the toilets. The seat belt sign came on, and the pilot announced they should prepare for landing.

Unforgiven had long since finished, but she couldn’t remember how it ended. She noticed the two little girls were gone.

“I hope you had a nice rest,” said Annie, appearing at her elbow. “Do you need help returning your seat to the upright position?”

Claudine nodded gratefully as Annie jerked her up.

“Annie, what happened to those two little girls sitting there?” She pointed to where they’d been.

“Two little girls?” asked Annie, looking around the cabin. “I didn’t see them. Were they bothering you?”

“No, not at all. They were sitting right there for most of the flight, then they just disappeared. One bigger girl, one smaller. I think they were traveling alone.”

Annie shook her head and stowed Claudine’s tray. “Those seats have been empty the whole flight. I think I would have noticed two little nuggets sitting there. And we don’t allow children under fourteen to fly alone anymore. Are you sure you didn’t mean another row?”

Claudine frowned, then smiled quickly. “Must be my mistake. Thank you, Annie.” She chastised herself for drinking the champagne and braced as the plane seemed to nose-dive toward land.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Nigerwife includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Vanessa Walters. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

Nicole Oruwari has the perfect life: a handsome husband; a palatial house in the heart of glittering Lagos, Nigeria; and a glamorous group of friends. She left gloomy London and a dark family past behind for sunny, moneyed Lagos, becoming part of the Nigerwives—a community of foreign women married to wealthy Nigerian men.

But when Nicole disappears without a trace after a boat trip, the cracks in her so-called perfect life start to show. As the investigation turns up nothing but dead ends, her auntie Claudine decides to take matters into her own hands. Armed with only a cell phone and a plane ticket to Nigeria, she digs into her niece’s life and uncovers a hidden side filled with dark secrets, isolation, and even violence. But the more she discovers about Nicole, the more Claudine’s own buried history threatens to come to light.

An inventively told and keenly observant thriller where nothing is as it seems, The Nigerwife offers a razor-sharp look at the bonds of family, the echoing consequences of secrets, and whether we can ever truly outrun our past.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. In the prologue, there is a clear contrast between Nicole’s home and the surrounding environment (the lagoon). Discuss how this foreshadows the importance of how appearances can differ from reality throughout the book.

2. Throughout the book, Tonye comes across as detached and threatening. Considering the other things his family is dealing with after Nicole’s disappearance, would you consider his actions normal, reasonable, or acceptable?

3. The Oruwaris keep the details of Nicole’s disappearance a secret to avoid social ramifications, thus hindering the investigation’s progress. How do you think class comes into play during the search for Nicole? Discuss the pros and cons associated with making the news public. Do you agree or disagree with the family’s choice? Claudine’s?

4. After an argument with Tonye, Claudine says she “let [Nicole] down.” Having learned about Claudine and Nicole’s past with Len, do you think her search for Nicole is motivated by guilt, love, or a mixture of both?

5. Nicole repeatedly expresses that no one cares about what she does and that she could spend the whole day in her pajamas. Do you think the Oruwaris ever liked Nicole? How do you think the Oruwaris would’ve handled the investigation (or lack thereof) into her disappearance if Claudine hadn’t shown up?

6. In chapter 14, we see a rare moment of solidarity between Nicole and the women of the Oruwari clan, when Mother-in-Law defends Nicole having a job and women needing things for themselves. What does this say about the hierarchies at play?

7. In chapter twenty, Nicole refers to Bilal as “just a driver.” Do you think Nicole, or anybody in the Oruwari house, treats the staff humanely? Discuss how a difference in the treatment of the staff could have prevented what happened to Nicole?

8. What do the Nigerwives’ reactions to the news that Nicole is missing say about their organization and what’s important to them?

9. Do you think Elias has unrealistic expectations of Nicole and their relationship? Do you feel he is using her the same way she is using him?

10. Chapter 13 opens, “Penny was laughing as she answered the phone.” Discuss the tensions prevalent in Nicole’s family, their roots, and the lasting effects on their relationships.

11. Although she was estranged from her niece, Claudine still travels all the way to Nigeria to look for Nicole, while the rest of her family stays in London. What does this say about the true strength of their relationship?

12. Nicole’s loss of self-identity after becoming a mother is very important to the story. Discuss the ways in which her affair with Elias helps her rediscover who she is. Do you think there is anything else Nicole could have done to find herself? Would things be different if she’d had the affair with Yohanna?

13. Kemi acts as Nicole’s voice of reason. After discovering that Kemi had been sleeping with Tonye, do you think she had ulterior motives when inviting Nicole on the boat?

14. Nicole was planning on going home, and she was contemplating contacting Claudine. What does this say about her personal growth during the affair?

15. Discuss the parallels between what Claudine observed at the Mobee Royal Family Original Slave Relics Museum and the epilogue. Discuss how you might continue the story line.

Enhance Your Book Club

1. The short film Honeymoon, by award-winning director Amy Aniobi, explores a modern-day Nigerian couple’s first awkward day of marriage. Consider watching this with your group, and compare the themes about marriage in the film to those in the novel.

2. There are plenty of Nigerian/West African neighborhoods across the United States. See if there are any near you and explore, or find a Nigerian restaurant in your area and try the cuisine!

3. A body floats ignored in the lagoon at the start of the novel, and the same situation occurs several times throughout the book; there's a parallel in the way people treat the environment and how they treat each other. The village community that recycles the trash saves Nicole from drowning in the end. Consider organizing a shoreside cleanup at your nearest beach, pond, river, or lake.

4. Claudine is often reminded that she does not understand Nigerian culture and traditions. Her interference threatens the Oruwaris plans and life, specifically the upcoming wedding. In your reading group, compare the dynamics of the traditional Oruwari marriage versus traditional Western marriages.

A Conversation with Vanessa Walters

Tell us about your inspiration for the novel.

The Nigerwife was inspired by the incredibly thrilling city of Lagos, which has a rich history and a diverse population. It’s a place to which all sorts of people gravitate to seek their fortune, and inside that tension between success and failure, wealth and deprivation, optimism and despair, everyone has a story to tell. Mine happens to be about a Nigerwife because that’s the community I inhabited.

What do you hope readers take away from reading The Nigerwife and your body of work?

As well as enjoying and learning about Lagos, I hope the readers see that all the characters are flawed and all are worthy of empathy. So are we.

Did you have a favorite character to write? If so, who and why?

My favorite character may be Tonye. He was an enjoyable exploration of the maleness that is so rewarded in Nigeria’s patriarchal society but also burdened by it. Additionally, whereas Nicole’s arc is somewhat completed within the novel, Tonye’s remains tantalizingly unfinished. I still find myself wondering what Tonye will do next, whether he will heal his generational trauma or simply shunt it onto his children. It feels important to know.

Nicole leaves behind the only country and family she’s ever known, then continues to make sacrifices as a wife and mother that ultimately cause her to lose herself. Do you believe that it is possible for women to find balance in these roles? Do you have any advice for women in similar situations?

My recent research has shown me that Nicole’s experience of loss of self is not at all special to Nigerwives. It’s common for women to struggle to adjust across cultures, especially when they move to a more patriarchal society. And the pressure is mostly on our gender to fit in and be agreeable. I’ve been through some of it myself, and writing this story was a very validating process. The advice Imani gives Nicole, to trust herself in an unhappy situation and do what she can to get out of it safely, is the same I would give anyone in trouble.

Is there anything you miss about Nigeria or any place that you think travelers should try visit if they get the chance to go?

I particularly miss the people of Lagos. Lagos attracts a gregarious sort of person with a belief in something bigger than themself, which makes them interesting. I also miss the weddings in Lagos, because the wedding is at the heart of Nigerian life. This huge, wildly expensive event is the culmination of a parental dream, part of the spiritual identity of the family. It establishes the social circle, demonstrates social status, and is a key event where important connections are made and cemented. But even without the weddings, Lagos has much to offer, especially these days, with plenty of new restaurants, social events, art, and great beaches.

Is there anything you can tell us about the HBO development of The Nigerwife?

The HBO development is spearheaded by Amy Aniobi, the producer/writer of Insecure, the critically acclaimed HBO show starring Issa Rae, and the plan is to develop an ongoing television series based on The Nigerwife. Something epic and nuanced.

Your first YA novel, Rude Girls, was published when you were a student. How do you think you’ve grown as a writer? Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

I don’t know how much you grow as a writer. You might understand the craft better, but essentially the writer is the person, and I’m the same person as I was at sixteen now that I’m in my forties. I only have more to say because I’ve lived and hopefully more awareness of how what I say will be received.

You’ve written in a few different mediums—playwriting (shorts and full lengths), fiction—do you prefer one over the other? If so, why?

Being able to bounce between mediums is creatively stimulating for me. I enjoy the freedom of writing prose but relish the technical challenges of writing scripts for plays and TV. However, the payoff is different. Plays are enjoyed and mostly forgotten. TV is well-paid but no one remembers the writer of a TV show or movie. Books have more acknowledgment for the writer, I think, and ultimately give more long-term satisfaction.

Do you have a next project in mind? And, if so, can you tell us anything about it?

I have several books to write! I’m very inspired by places, and my next few books are inspired by New York, where I currently live. I may still write about Lagos. I’d love to revisit the characters of The Nigerwife. Let me know if you also want to know what Tonye does next!

About The Author

Photograph © Jerrie Rotimi

Vanessa Walters was born and raised in London and has a background in international journalism and playwriting and is a Tin House resident and a Millay resident. She is the author of two previous YA books and The Nigerwife. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

Why We Love It

“Vanessa Walters’s The Nigerwife was one of those rare submissions I simply knew I needed to publish. The masterful way Vanessa crafts twists and boundary-pushing narrative structures announces her as an explosive new talent in the literary suspense landscape. An inventively told and keenly observant thriller where nothing is as it seems, The Nigerwife is a razor-sharp look at the bonds of family, the echoing consequences of secrets, and whether we can ever truly outrun our past. I hope readers will dive into The Nigerwife and have as much fun falling under its spell as I did.”

—Natalie H., Senior Editor, on The Nigerwife

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (May 2, 2023)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668011089

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Raves and Reviews

“A thrillingly suspenseful novel that reveals its riches, layers and secrets through effortlessly elegant prose, while exposing the imprisoning dynamics inside transactional relationships of patriarchal power. I was hooked right through to the shocking end.” —Bernardine Evaristo, Booker Prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other

“The search for a missing woman, set against the backdrop of glamour and wealth, is utterly captivating. Lush, poignant and gripping with a killer ending to boot, The Nigerwife shows that sometimes the perfect life and the perfect marriage aren't exactly what they seem. Vanessa Walters is one to watch!” —Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of Local Woman Missing

“Dark secrets seethe beneath the glamorous lives of Nigeria’s uber rich. A propulsive and complex tale of passion and betrayal. Electrifying!” —Liv Constantine, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish

"The Nigerwife is a dazzling exploration of deceptions--both intimate and internet--that keep the everyday afloat, and the pages turning, despite the weight of our deepest secrets, regrets, and devotions. I raced through this sumptuous, suspenseful, and smartly-layered book, and gasped at its fearless, soul-baring end."—Nancy Jooyoun Kim, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Story of Mina Lee

“As wise as it is gripping, The Nigerwife captures the glory of post-colonial literature in a masterfully paced thriller. Vanessa Walters’ debut marks a major addition to the canon.” —Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of Reese’s Book Club Pick On the Rooftop

The Nigerwife is a hypnotically lush and atmospheric novel about the lengths we go to for the ones we love most and all the ways we weave past traumas into strength for the future. A stellar debut!” —Wanda M. Morris, award-winning author of All Her Little Secrets and Anywhere You Run

“A murder-mystery set in Nigerian high society, The Nigerwife is an exceptional debut. Vanessa Walters has fashioned a fresh, edge-of-your-seat thriller that’s pacy and unique. Her characters are so real I felt complicit in their glamorous, stifling world, while cheering Claudine on as she searches for her missing niece. An absolute treat—it took all my expectations and threw them to the wind. I’m still in shock from those final chapters.” —Janice Hallett, international bestselling author of The Appeal

“A brilliantly original novel about family, motherhood, identity and diaspora, with a crime thriller twist.” —Afua Hirsch, author of Brit(ish)

“Evokes skillfully the atmosphere of a wealthy life by the Lagos Lagoon . . . A shimmering success.” —Diana Evans, author of Ordinary People

“The Nigerwife solidifies Vanessa Walters as a literary force. Walters boldly and incisively examines race, class, and culture amongst a group of complicated women in a manner that will continue to resonate with me for years to come!” Catherine Adel West, author of The Two Lives of Sara

The Nigerwife explores the ways a set of ex-pat women in Nigeria exchange autonomy for comfort. But it's a raw, and potentially fatal deal. A murderously good read!” —Sarah Langan, acclaimed author of Good Neighbors

“A superb thriller with a devastating conclusion.” —Alex Wheatle, Guardian Prize–winning author of Cane Warriors

"A surprising ending and well-done dialogue make this a perfectly good way to spend a night or two." —Kirkus

"A remarkable book." —New York Journal of Books

The Nigerwife is a gripping work of suspense, a psychological puzzle, a mystery, and a critique of marriage and high society … In this riveting novel about a young woman's disappearance, Lagos high society hides personal struggles and larger cultural concerns.” —Shelf Awareness

"The snap-crackle-pop dialogue is a treat."NPR, 5 New Mysteries for the Start of Summer

“Cleverly keeps us guessing...is well worth reading, entrancing in its complex plotting and immersion in the Nigerian culture.”Mystery & Suspense Magazine

Paste Magazine, Must Read Thriller Books of Summer 2023

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