Morayo reminds me of my own French-Canadian grandmother, Blanche. One day, we were called to the hospital because she’d had a heart attack and “Didn’t have long to live.” The next day, I went back to the hospital and she was back to her normal bouncy self, telling me, “Check out the butt on that orderly! I think he likes me!” – and then cackling her mischievous laugh. Now multiply that memory times the four times it happened! – and you’ll understand why I appreciate older characters who refuse to go gentle into that good night.
The book isn’t simple, though. It’s told through rotating first-person points of view that include many of the people who interact with Morayo over the course of a few weeks (the timeframe of the novel). You get to see Morayo through her own eyes and through the eyes of others. She’s dignified without being stuffy; she has intelligence without arrogance; and is wise but still naive. She indulges in erotic memories and fantasies – challenging our preconceptions about aging women’s sexuality. And she’s a retired English professor who used to be married to a diplomat, so she’s well travelled and well read. A very interesting character!
Like Morayo, author Sarah Ladipo Manyika was raised in Nigeria. Ladipo Manyika is also a Ph.D. who taught Literature at UC Berkeley and has lived in a number of countries. “Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun” was shortlisted for the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize, so I’m not the only one who loves this novel!