It’s rare that I can summarize a book with only one word, but for this one it’s easy–“delightful”.
Morayo Da Silva is an almost-75 year old Nigerian woman living in San Francisco. She’s funny, well-traveled, cosmopolitan, active, and young at heart. She was a college professor, a writer, a polyglot who threw parties, an ambassador’s wife, a poet’s lover. She’s also a single, childless older woman whose multiple degrees, epic book collection and vast network of international friends don’t count for very much when aging begins to interfere with her independence. But Morayo is so charming, friendly and open that it all (mostly) manages to work out.
To be honest, this book resonated with me because I see one of my possible futures in Morayo–the traveling, the teaching, the writing, and her constant unselfconscious engagement with other cultures are all very familiar to my own life trajectory so far. But Morayo is far sunnier than I am, and one of the things I loved best about this book is that it is unapologetically about an elderly African woman abroad who is joyfully living her best life. There are mentions of political conflict, immigration worries, aging and relationship troubles but this is a book that really chooses to be about joy and community.
Speaking of community, there are a lot of characters and wildly different multiple viewpoints included, even though the book is just over 100 pages long. If you don’t like lots of characters and minimal action you might not love this. I didn’t mind it, though–everyone is written well and distinctively. The switches in perspective and all of the different people woven in and out of parts of Morayo’s life are reminiscent of the messiness and diversity of real community. Even though we only get glimpses, I felt like I knew these people.
Manyika, a British-Nigerian, has written a few other books that I definitely need to track down. 5 stars and a mystery tattoo to Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun.
(Someday we’re all gonna be old, beautiful people–this book shows one of the better ways to do it, I think. If you want to check it out, consider ordering it from the Equal Opportunity Bookshop–and be aware that this blog has affiliate relationships, and any clicks/purchases made from here will result in a commission being earned. Peace!)