In the sprawling suburbs of Abuja, Binta Zubairu—a devout fifty-five-year-old widow, grandmother of five—woke up to the smell of cockroaches and knew something inauspicious was about to happen. What she didn’t expect was that twenty-five-year-old Hassan ‘Reza’, a weed dealer, thug for hire and street-gang leader, would scale her fence and land in ‘the puddle that was her heart’.
Binta yearns for intimacy after the sexual repression of her marriage, the pain of losing her first child and the privations of widowhood. Reza seeks to fill the void left by his estranged mother and increasingly distant father. Brought together in the most unusual circumstances, the two embark on a whirlwind secret relationship. But things come to a head when Binta’s wealthy son confronts Reza, with disastrous consequences.
Abubakar’s powerful debut novel—set in a conservative Muslim community in northern Nigeria, and against a backdrop of political corruption and violence—is a haunting story of love and longing that unfurls gently and memorably, revealing layers of emotion that defy age, class and religion.