Under an Emerald Sky

// 27 May 2011

Lukela Aimmado explains why Under an Emerald Sky, a novel by black, queer, feminist activist Olukemi Amala is essential reading for all


Under an Emerald Sky begins with a quote by the writer and philosopher, Umberto Eco:

“I have come to believe that the whole world in an enigma a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.”

I read this quote at least five times. This novel wasn’t going to be a light read. Dictionary by my side, I was ready for it. Thankfully no dictionary was required.

The story is divided into two parts – childhood and young adulthood. We start at the birth of two babies – Yewande Daramola-Drayton and Mary Johnson. These two girls of Nigerian heritage are born in a suburban town just outside London in 1982. Yewande’s mother is happy with her baby while Mary’s mother is horrified by her newborn. Something is wrong with Mary Johnson at birth but we are not told what till later in the story.

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