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9 Jul


An American Marriage, a novel by 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction winner, Tayari Jones, was an unexpected buy. On an Easter holiday away, while stocking up on my Amazon must-haves, I stumbled upon this New York bestseller and knew almost instantaneously that I had to have it. Undeterred by the fact that I wasn’t acquainted with the author, and enchanted by its simple yet alluring title, I decided to judge this book by its cover and went ahead to order. It went on to nearly destroy my relationship, because this isn’t the type of read you put down for more than a few seconds to merely respond to what you want to do for date night.

As it happens to be Jones’ fourth novel, this author knows a thing or two about real storytelling. An American Marriage is centred on the lives of Celestial and Roy, a recently married young Black couple, who are just finding their rhythm in the brand new world of matrimony. Their lives are  thrown into absolute chaos when Roy is wrongfully accused of a crime and imprisoned. Combined with pressures from long-time friends, family, work and life, this couple has to answer the ultimate question: is their bond strong enough to survive this tragedy and can they ever be the same?

In a time when conversations about race, identity and violence in the United States are just as important as they were fifty years ago, a book like this one could not be more felicitous. You neither have to be American nor married to be able to identify with the conversations and situations described in the novel. The characters are real, the discussions are hyper-relatable, and the scope of fluctuating emotions you’ll feel are palpable.

An American Marriage makes you question what is really right and fair in the world, and recognise how one’s life can dramatically change in just a few moments – essentially reaffirming how much of your destiny is out of your hands. This book is a necessary awakening.

Order An American Marriage here.

Kunmi Odueke
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