Oge is a young Nigerian woman living in Belgium. She travels by train from her home in Turnhout to a hospital in Leuven where she has an appointment with an oncologist after having been diagnosed with breast cancer. But her life appears to be falling apart on other levels too: she and her Belgian husband Gunter barely talk and she is struggling to come to terms with the coldness and superficiality of social interactions in Flanders. Then, to make matters worse, her young son dies.
Chika Unigwe writes beautifully of love, loss and the cultural and racial confusions that continue to trouble her.Caryl Phillips
When she meets with disinterest and a lack of understanding on the old continent, she misses her family more than ever. While mourning, Oge struggles to find a balance between her memories of Nigeria and the Belgian reality, and must get a handle on these differences and setbacks to find herself again.
The work of a talented writerDe Standaard
Chika Unigwe does not shy away from the major topics. She explores the relationship between migration and loneliness, both of which are becoming more entrenched in modern European society. ‘The Phoenix’ is Unigwe’s debut novel: the story of a strong woman who, hit by loss, homesickness and illness, tries to keep going.
This is a story about how tragic loss can totally consume a human being. Chika Unigwe’s spare and accessible telling has created a truly poignant narrative.Ike Oguine, author of ‘A Squatter’s Tale’