Cover Image: A Good Name

A Good Name

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Member Reviews

A hard hitting story that doesn’t shirk from the reality of how society shapes the choices women make in order to fit in – within a patriarchal culture. Zena and Eziafas tale is a story of our times. Kilankos writing is strong and character driven. The sense of place takes you on Zena’s story as you see her arc from the young girl with a dream to a woman trying to take charge of her life with consequences for both her and her husband Eziafa. Being Nigerian myself there was so much here that resonated.
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I'm so sorry - I only had this title as an acsm file, and it expired before I got around to reading it. My apologies!

I have given a 5-star rating by way of apology, and because I can't Give Feedback without giving a star rating.

Apologies again, and best of luck with your publications!
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Although Eziafa Okereke was born in Nigeria, he now lives in America.  He decides not to tell the Nigerian American woman he's dating that he is going back to Nigeria to find a wife.  He brings his new wife to America, 18 year old Zina, and as they grow, their life is never the same.

Although this book has several triggering aspects to it, it was such a good and very well written book.  It was exciting, and I did not want it to end.  I had no empathy for Eziafa, and I felt so sorry for Zina.  There were so many twists and turns that I was not expecting.  Such a great read

I received a copy of the book via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving an honest review
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I featured this book as a Book of the Day spotlight and included it in my weekly roundup and monthly post of new releases on my Black Fiction Addiction platforms.
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This novel examines two Nigerians living in Houston in an arranged marriage.  In the first part, we meet a 38-year old taxi-driving Eziafa Okerekea, disillusioned by the lure of the idyllic and elusive “American Dream.”  Although frustrated and disappointed by years of denied opportunity and stalled success, he chooses to remain in the US to avoid the perceived shame of returning home penniless.  Fairly early in the novel, we realize he carries financial and emotional burdens levied on him from his aging mother to marry a woman from their local village.  Even as he struggles to make ends meet for himself, he reluctantly deepens his financial debt by agreeing to marry an 18-year-old Zani.  Key components of the mandated tradition are the bestowing of gratuitous gifts to quite a number of “friends” and relatives (including the future in-laws), paying the exorbitant “bride price”, and the expense of the wedding ceremony(ies), including extravagant wedding attire for his mother, sister, etc.

After the wedding, the point of view shifts from Eziafa to Zani.  Initially, a young, naive, and obedient girl/daughter/bride we watch her transformation into a young, independent wife/woman who develops a voice and agency with surprising (yet obvious) results [avoiding spoilers here].    

The themes of family honor and obedience to the will of one’s parents (and in this case the cultural deference to one’s husband) weigh heavily in the plotlines. The novel delves into the internal struggles of (Nigerian) immigrants to comply with seemingly outdated, nonsensical (Igbo) traditions while living abroad adapting to and adopting new/different freedoms and social mores. It also examines the myth that life abroad instantly translates to wealth and fortune; and the (financial) pressure to support those who remain in Nigeria.  In this novel, we see how these conventions cause unnecessary financial strains/huge debts, support forced/arranged marriages (usually involving child brides), encourage conjugal rape resulting in multiple unwanted pregnancies and marriages that result in years of abuse, subjugation, and servitude.  It also showcases how this patriarchal society in which women’s choices are severely limited and tied to the will and demands of their father/parents --particularly women who are impoverished, undereducated, and in rural settings.  Expectations are high and the consequences for deviating or evolving are costly -- especially for the women. 

I found a glimmer of hope in a couple of male characters who seemed to embrace change, reason, and compromise.  I can only hope that their way of thinking is contagious.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an opportunity to read and review!
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Eziafakaego Okereke is a thirty seven year old Nigerian who in search of greener pastures comes to America for a better life armed with a first class degree in computer science. After spending a few years as a factory worker in Minnesota, he decides to move to Houston and become a cab driver. 

Eziafa's life seems to be progressing even if slowly when he meets and falls in love with an Nigerian-American woman. However his mother will not have it and insists he comes home to get a wife. Reluctantly, Eziafa returns to Nigeria and selects a wife who is 20 years his junior- one he can control. 

Zinachidi doesn't want to marry a man she doesn't love but as her parents can barely feed the family, she's left with no choice. So armed with hope, she arrives in America as a naïve 19 year old bound by duty. Over the years, she becomes her own person, in spite of her controlling and demanding husband. 

Eziafa's need to control every aspect of Zina's life and his inability to say no to his mother's expectations leads them both down a slippery slope. 

I liked how the focus shifted somewhat from Eziafa to Zina about halfway through the book, I thought it gave a balanced view of their marriage and personal situations. 

This book exposes and touches upon a lot of issues predominantly, the weight of societal and family expectations. For some reason, Eziafa allowed himself live his life for more for what people would say than for his own enjoyment and he paid the price. Another very important issue that was dealt with abuse in marriage - physical and emotional. 

I really enjoyed reading this book. I've read other works by Yejide Kilanko and I enjoy her storytelling. I particularly like how she handles heavy topics/themes and the flow of conversation in this book.
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The heartbreak this was. It took me a few days to finish this story & I can’t believe I made it out in one piece. I sat with it for awhile. I needed time. 

I was afraid for Zina from the moment she landed in America & I was relieved that Jovita got away. They weren’t the only two prominent women in this story but they stuck with me the most. Both from the same traditional culture but one raised outside of all those expectations & the other raised by them. Without spoiling it, I can tell you these two women showed how horribly wrong or incredibly right a life can turn out depending on how influential “tradition” is in their upbringing.

This story took on a tone so real that & sinister that it’s  heartbreaking all over again that this is the real life of many women. Raised as possessions to be traded & treated as such, their own aspirations & desires be damned. When you are desired because you can be possessed it’s a deeply disturbing & often fatal existence & that’s one the thoughts that I can’t shake even days after reading this story.
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Review: A Good Name by Yejide Kilanko.

A Good Name is a story that features the main character, thirty-seven-year-old Eziafakaego Okereke, who has been living in America for the past twelve years. Disappointed to find that his first class degree in Engineering is of no use to him in America, he moves from Minnesota to Houston after securing a job as a cab driver. Upon several demands from his mother, Eziafa reluctantly decides it's time to settle and start a family of his own even when his pockets are not ready. After his mom rejected Eziafa's initial choice of a potential bride—the twenty-six-year-old Jovita Asika, a Nigerian-American who is more of a free-spirited, confident modern woman—on the premise that her ancestors are "thieves" where she comes from in Nigeria, Eziafa decides to go back home to accept a bride picked by his mother whom he can mold to his own taste.

Well fortunately for eighteen-year-old Zinachidi Nwoye's poverty-stricken family and unfortunately for her, she's the bride Eziafa finally settles on after meeting and interviewing over twelve women handpicked by his mother and sister, Evelyn. Zina wants to go to the University; she does not want to get married to an ugly man with a bald head who will take her to America leaving behind her village lover, Ndu. But her family will hear nothing of her plea. Zina will marry Eziafa, go to America and save them all from the trenches of poverty threatening to swallow them whole. School can wait. This is how Zina and Eziafa's tortuous married life begin.

I must say that I really enjoyed this novel. This is my first read from the author and it was nothing short of splendid. I just love how easy the book is to read. Right from the start, it grabs your attention and keeps you locked till the end. The dialogues are beautifully crafted, so much so well that you can't help being drawn into every conversation in the book. For me, the dialogues made this story what it was and to be able to pull that off successfully is not an easy thing to do, so thumbs up to Yejide Kilanko. The story doesn't drag; every page has something for you. My only disappointment is with the ending which I did not really like because I found it a bit too abrupt and jarring. It was definitely not the ending I expected but what can I say?

It's unfortunate how family or societal expectations and cultural beliefs can really be binding and choking sometimes when we don't learn to take charge of our own lives. Eziafa's biggest problem in this novel was trying to fulfill his family's every demand, especially his mother's. He was not living life for himself but for others. This translated into his marriage with Zina as well. He literally forced the marriage down her throat, forcing his will and burdensome expectations on her to the point where she couldn't take it anymore. In the beginning the same can be said of Zina too until America put some wind under her sails and she wanted to fly but it was too late because Eziafa needed her down, where he could trample on.

The African community can and should do better. What happened to these two innocent people could have been avoided. Honestly, people should be allowed to make their own choices in life. The meddling is too much and it gets on my nerves! Even in books, I always find myself screaming at characters when they forfeit their desires for the happiness of others. It's something I don't see myself doing and I can neither stand those who do it nor those who give in! I'm happy Yejide brought this out in the novel so hopefully when people see the bizarre consequences of forced expectations, maybe, just maybe they might do differently.

I think the main themes of the novel are family expectations, cultural norms, immigration, emotional abuse and domestic violence. But other themes such as politics and a bit of racism are touched on in there. I seriously recommend that you buy and read this book when it comes out if you're a lover of contemporary literary fiction. You will love it for sure. I rate this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Thank you Netgalley and Guernica Editions for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed every bit of the reading experience.

#AGoodName #YejideKilanko #NetGalley
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This is one good book that left me “speechless”.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for the ARC.
I would want to spoil it for you so just go get it and read for yourself.
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Twelve years after emigrating from Nigeria to the USA, Eziafa finds work driving a taxi. Disappointed and bitter  due to his unsuccessful emigrant experience and under family pressure to get married, he returns to Nigeria to find a wife. He chooses Zena, an unexperienced 18 year old, and takes her back to Texas with him - but she is not what he had hoped for. The book deals with the immigrant experience, family expectations, abusive behaviour. The characters are well depicted, we get to find out both Eziafa's and Zena's hopes and expectations in this engaging story.
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<i>A good name</i> is a devastating fictional novel about the difficulties of immigrants coming in to the America and adjusting to the cultural changes that overtake them. 
Eziafaka and Zena are a couple through and arranged marriage who come from Nigeria and move into Houston Texas and have great difficulty in adjusting.   <i>A good name</i> is written by Yajide Kilanko, a Nigerian-Canadian poet, author, and social worker.

Eziafaka, an immigrant living in the US for 12 years, has lived in Minnesota and most recently in Houston, Texas.  He has a girlfriend whom he loves but his mother does not approve so he is called back to Nigeria to find a wife.   He locates a much younger wife, Zena, in his village and brings her to Houston Texas.  He tries to keep her in his apartment until he has made his fortune but she wants to go back to school in business.  Eziafaka, decides that she should go into nursing and this, as wells as many other issues, becomes to be a problem for the couple.  Zena develops many friendships outside the home which makes matters even worse because Eziafaka begins not to trust her.   
Eziafaka also has pressures from home in Nigeria which he must deal with.  As he gets more and more under stress the story inevitably leads down the road to disastrous consequences. 

Both Zena and her husband are unique characters.  Kilanko teaches us a lot about the cultural issues they must deal with.  Zena is young and naive while Eziafaka is too wrapped up in how other people’s perceptions are everything.  They deal poorly with the transition between Nigeria and the US which leads them down a disastrous track.  The story is interesting in that there are no innately evil people in the story.  It's just people that due to circumstances and a lack of understanding of how to adjust, things go bad. 

One develops an appreciation for the novel at the very end.   During the bulk of the novel I feels more like it was a love story gone bad, with poor love triangles and that sort of thing - somewhat like a Harlequin romance.  It is only at the end of the story that you understand the implications of the cultural indoctrination that seals this couple’s fate.  That is the uniqueness of this novel and it's redeeming feature.

The story will appeal to people who like stories about relationships.  At the same time there is a significant lesson about domestic violence.  I give the novel three on five because it took so long to unfold.  I want to thank NetGalley and Guernsey for providing me a digital copy of this novel I am provide the review voluntarily
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*trigger warning*
Rape and Abuse
I could not bring myself to finish this book, the main character is an awful person who lies and then proceeds to force an arranged marriage on a girl and rape her. He then takes her to America is emotionally abusive and forces her to chose between her own happiness and being able to help her family. I kept on thinking the plot would improve but it just got more and more disgusting.
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Nigerian born Eziafa lives in Texas and drives a cab for living. Ambitious and desperately wanting to actualizing that American dream, he works hard and insulates himself in traditions and cultures that clash and collide. He marries a much younger Zina, hailing from his own village with approvals from his family. He decides on Zina, two decades his junior and only eighteen, to mold to his taste. Kilanko deftly brings this together in the gentle way Eziafa controls and executes Zina's life for her in their early days of marriage. Zina is bright, Zina is smart, Zina isn't even a fully functioning adult when she lands in America, already married to her older husband with dreams of education behind her eyelids. Though Zina's interests lies in business management, at her husband's insistence and passive control, she agrees to study nursing. Kilanko changes the tone of the book here and shifts the narration to Zina the moment she lands in America. We see the story unfold for the most part from her point of view while Eziafa watches their life together passively. The story goes as one would expect but then ends in a way one wouldn't. 
 
The story is quite engaging and Kilanko's narration is crisp. Both the protagonists are tied to a culture that's foreign to those who watch them wither, and are unable to understand the bond they share with the families they left behind. The characters and their actions might be frustrating and that is a very good thing. And that's why perhaps the ending both shocks and doesn't shock at all. 

<i>Thank you Guernica Editions and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.</i>
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A Good Name started out giving me one impression, but then completely changed course and focus. One of the main characters, Eziafa, hasn't found the success he expected after moving to the US from Nigeria, but he does find a woman who brings him great joy. Unfortunately, she does not meet the requirements set by his mother, and so he returns to Nigeria to marry a young woman barely out of childhood in order to "mold" her to his preferences. 
From there, the book also includes the perspective of his wife, Zina, who must bend to her new husband's will but finds little ways here and there to discover the US for herself. As time moves forward, we see how the two grow apart even further and their inner turmoil. 
The writing was engaging and I greatly enjoyed reading this book. My only small complaint is that the end felt very abrupt. After spending so much time with the characters, I expected to have a bit more explanation of the events, but I also think it was effective to not have it all spelled out so that the reader was left with appropriately jarring feelings.
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Once I started to read this book, I could not put it down until I finished. Kilanko is an expert storyteller and presents the dilemma of how one continues with tradition and follows cultural norms when the world has shifted and one has left the village. It is a fascinating tale. The reader is left wondering who to feel sorry for when every character is truly trying their best. This would be an excellent choice for a book group as there is plenty of character and content to discuss. I look forward to reading more of Kilanko's work.
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