Home Is Lagos

Francesca Ekwuyasi’s debut novel

As you might expect from its title, Butter Honey Pig Bread features a banquet of food. There’s baked mackerel (burned due to an absent mind), fresh guava (nibbled on until the “knobby, slimy ball” is “all sucked clean”), and a lovingly prepared triple-layer cake intended to mend a long absence with chocolate and caramel. There’s even a cat named Coca-Cola. Across the novel’s four sections, meals are shared, summoned from memory, or missed, and recipes are recounted step by step. Francesca Ekwuyasi’s appealingly rich debut celebrates the comforts and rituals of dishes, especially as they recall the tastes of home.

Home is Lagos — a hugely populous metropolis about which the characters harbour different shades of ambivalence or a desire to escape. Though she now lives in Halifax, Ekwuyasi gives readers an immersive experience of the city of her birth: a “voracious beast,” both ugly and beautiful. Taiye...