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BOOKS


Author Interview Nikki May


Nikki May’s début about three friends has already been picked up as a major serial by the BBC


Alice O’Keeffe @aliceokbooks 42 3rd September 2021


‘‘I


am over the moon that my book is actually going to be called Wahala,” says Nikki May, of her wildly enter- taining début, acquired by Doubleday aſter a fierce nine-way auction. “I never thought it would be. In West Africa—the whole of West Africa, not just Nigeria—it’s a word you hear 10 times a day. Someone might say to you, ‘there’s too much wahala’, it’s ubiquitous and it’s always said with a sigh, or a shake of the head, or a groan. It means, basically, trouble.” Wahala centres on three friends living in London: Ronke, Simi and Boo. The trio, who met as students at Bristol Universit, all have mixed English and Nigerian heritage in common but, now in their mid-30s, are grap- pling with different issues in their private and professional lives. Ronke wants to buy a flat and setle down with her unreliable boyfriend Kayode; Boo has a French husband and a small daughter but finds domestic life stultifying and is tempted by an office affair; Simi has a high-flying career in fashion, but her husband wants them to have a baby and she’s not keen. At least they have each other. That is, until Isobel arrives on the scene; here is the wahala of the title. A glamorous “old friend” of Simi’s—they met aged five at school in Lagos—Isobel gets back in touch and loses no time in ingratiating herself with the group. Each chapter tells the story from the point of view of Ronke, Simi and Boo in turn. While Ronke is less amenable to


Photography: Mike Cooper


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