"A powerfully written exploration of the rites of power."– Kirkus Reviews
Ugokwe’s debut novella adds a mystical touch to the story of a destructive, dysfunctional marriage.
Pallavi Victoria, known to her friends and family as P.V., came to Los Angeles to find freedom from her rich, conservative Trinidadian family in Miami. Instead, she fell in love with a handsome player named Rodney and, at the age of 22, got married. To Rodney’s “twelve grinning and good-times-ready groomsmen,” P.V.’s a figure of fun, referred to as Boozhe P, short for bourgeoisie princess. To her face, Rodney calls her Wifey—when he’s not demeaning her with other epithets. Despite bruises and scars and her mother’s warning—“dat young man can’t love you!”— P.V. tries to make the best of their new, downsized life in Texas, a move imposed upon her by Rodney. As he falls into drink and drugs, she makes friends with Juanita and Georgina, who, with their caring husbands and numerous children, demonstrate a better way of life. With their encouragement, P.V. pursues her love of cooking by throwing regular dinner parties while her husband is out carousing with his friends. When Rodney returns one night and finds P.V. a little too close to a handsome guest, their frayed relationship enters into a final showdown. Ugokwe’s existential tale of a woman reduced to a “thingified concept” in a marriage mired in machismo begins promisingly, and its themes of materialism running amok, misogyny and racial tensions are timely. The writing is bold and unconventional. Characters are well-defined through dialect and dialogue as the narrator switches from Rodney’s California vernacular to the pidgin English P.V.’s mother speaks over the phone to the g-dropping drawl of the Dallas suburbs. Despite this, P.V. never seems to come to life. She wants freedom but never strives for it. As conflict rages around her, she reacts passively, as when confronted in dreams by her deceased “Nani,” whose “antiquated deference and quiet defiance” she never quite shakes.
A powerfully written exploration of the rites of power.