The Big Idea: Chika Unigwe

All too often, people can do the wrong things for what they think is the right reasons. In author Chika Unigwe’s Big Idea, she goes into detail about how things done out of “love” can end up hurting people, and how this sort of situation inspired her new novel, The Middle Daughter.


The Middle Daughter is a retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone set within a Nigerian family. I really wanted to write this because I didn’t like that in some versions, Persephone falls in love with her abductor, and in some even though she doesn’t fall in love with him, she’s forced to spend parts of the year with him. I wanted a version where Persephone would never accept Hades, would be free of him, and Hades would face judgement. The novel was also inspired by the true story of a young woman who was lured into a relationship by a man and who stayed in it for several years because she did not believe that she had the option of leaving.

Nigeria is highly patriarchal. The consequence of this is that gender roles are delineated, with ‘good girls’ expected to behave a certain way or risk bringing shame on their family name. Perhaps, one of the most obvious ways this could happen as an unmarried woman is to be sexually active–whether or not it is consensual. At my university, girls who were sexually assaulted kept it a secret because the burden of shame was on them. They were no longer “good girls.”…

The Middle Daughter: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Powell’s

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