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Funny, touching debut by a Nigerian-born resident of London: a young Yoruha girl goes off to a posh English boarding-school after WW II to learn English ways in preparation for life in her soon-to-he-independent nation. Remi Foster grows up with love and comfort in the household of her paternal grandfather, the richest man in Lagos, where ""we spoke four languages, and two of them were English."" The Fosters maintain cultural and emotional ties with England; Remi even has a white English stepgrandmother on the maternal side. Still, at age six, she's hardly prepared for exile--deposited in an English boarding-school where she's not sure whether it's worse being the object of prejudice or of curiosity. Each summer, longing for home, she stays with her English relatives--working-class people who drop their aitches and seem even more exotic to Remi's upper-class schoolmates than Remi does herself--and later with a series of well-intentioned former missionaries. Remi's childish naivetÉ and a voice that always rings true allow her to make political points without didacticism, as when she puzzles over why people in cold, gloomy England refer to her sunny home as ""darkest Africa."" Remi is vibrant, no victim, but her experiences still break the reader's heart: upon seeing her father and her uncle for the first time in five years, Remi puts out her hand and with her best English manners asks, ""How do you do, which one of you is my father?"" Evocative story of coming-of-age, cultural transformations, and continuities.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0140232931
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Viking