Stay with Me
by Ayobami Adebayo
“Hope has always been my opium, The thing I couldn’t wean myself off.”
I found this book on a “what to read next” recommendation list. The award winning book is set in Nigeria against the backdrop of political unrest, coup and military rule. It is told from the perspective of husband and wife as they recount their marriage and the social pressures that impact their relationship over the course of many years.
The story focuses on the wife’s ongoing struggle to become a mother and her position in a society where polygamy is common and a woman’s worth and the security of her marriage is measured by the off spring she produces.
The book is interspersed with Nigerian folk stories centered around parenthood and tales from the childhood memories of the main characters.
Although this would be a lovely read, I think I preferred that I listened to the audio book version that allowed me to relish both the accent of the Nigerian words, most endearingly the titles and greetings offered between the characters as they interacted with other members of the family and community, but also gave an accurate sense of the pronunciation of the Nigerian words I would never have been able to decipher correctly on my own.
With a run time of over 8 hours I nonetheless devoured the book in a day, setting aside other obligations that would have distracted me. It was worth the days sacrifice.
5 comments on “Stay with Me”
We have had so many audiobook reviews here, yours is welcome, too Kate- I bet it was very helpful to have the pronunciation you mention!
Raising a glass to audiobooks and love reading how the audiobook deepened your experience of the book. I have had the same experience with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s books, which I have listened to, rather than read with my eyeballs. Really brings out the spirit of the language for me. Love the layering of folk stories within the main story. This one is definitely making my list.
Other books made better for my by listening, rather than reading were The Map of Salt and Stars, by Zeyn Juokhadar, and The Beekeeper of Aleppo, by Christy Lefteri. Both were stunning books, really opened my eyes to the personal toll of war in Syria.
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JNaz, your comment made me think again about the McGurk Effect, that we privilege our sense of sight over our sense of hearing. After personal research in the concert hall, I believe that music is best experienced with the eyes closed but some caffeine before a performance begins is recommended. As it regards a book, there are the positives of beauty of tone and accent and the convenience of listening while driving, but there is the negative of being pushed ever-forward when one might otherwise want to stop to reread and savor.
I never thought about listening v.s. reading a book before. JNaz and Teri, thank you for opening me up to a deeper reflection on these two ways of taking in a story.
8 hours of listening in one day is a positive review in my book! Thanks for sharing your experience of Stay with Me.