Bitter Leaf is a richly textured and intricate novel set in Mannobe, a world that is African in nature but never geographically placed. At the heart of the novel is the village itself and its colourful cast of inhabitants: Babylon, a gifted musician who falls under the spell of the beautiful Jericho who has recently returned from the city; Mabel and M'elle Codon, twin sisters whose lives have taken very different paths, Magdalena, daughter of Mabel, who nurses an unrequited love for Babylon and Allegory, the wise old man who adheres to tradition. As lives and relationships change and Mannobe is challenged by encroaching development, the fragile web of dependency holding village life together is gradually revealed. An evocatively imagined debut novel from a promising new writer about love and loss, parental and filial bonds, and everything in between that makes life bittersweet.

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Critic Reviews (6)

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  1. Positive: 5 Out of 6
  1. Mixed: 1 Out of 6
  1. Negative: 0 Out of 6
Critical Consensus: Good.

25 Jan 2017
I have to start off by saying how biased I was with my book selection. I gravitated towards this title solely based on my Nigerian ethnicity and heightened awareness of influential women. Nonetheless, anyone can pick this book up and fall in love wit ...

Incessant Scribble

07 Oct 2015
Bitter Leaf is set in Mannobe a small regressive village located somewhere in Africa. We meet Jericho as she returns to Mannobe under the cover of darkness. She has lived in the city for a long time and is finally pulled back home to Mannobe by the g ...

05 Nov 2012
Welcome to Mannobe, a village with its own personality. It is clear from the onset that Chioma Okereke is a wordsmith, which shines through as her narrative is rich in language. From the sights and sound of Mannobe village, to its exotic taste and co ...

04 Jul 2012
Dear reader, you should read this enigmatic book, Bitter Leaf written by the poet Chioma Okereke. It is a lovely book. And a frustrating book, more on that later. I fell in love with this spunky book and Okereke’s rich mind. The book also broke my ...

Financial Times

19 Jul 2010
According to a timeless African proverb, it takes a village to raise a child. By implication a local community is a large, sprawling family in which bonds, responsibilities and rivalries transcend blood ties. At the heart of this well-crafted debut n ...

The Bookbag

10 Jun 2010
The African village where most of the novel’s characters live is called Mannobe. It is described as … a laid-back, fruit-off-the-vine place for as long as people could remember. The reader is introduced to quite a number of characters, al ...

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June 24, 2010


Virago Press (UK)





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