It’s 1976, six years after the Nigerian Civil War. We are at the center of it all; Lagos. It’s the advent of a new military regime and rumors are spreading like wildfire about an imminent counter-coup. The bead collector takes us on a journey through the lives of the Rich and Upper Class; the exclusive 1% of the 1%.

At an art exhibition, in the affluent Ikoyi neighborhood sparks a peculiar friendship between Remi Lawal, a Nigerian woman who runs her own greeting card shop and Frances Cooke, who is allegedly an American art dealer that collects rare beads.

These two form an unlikely bond and confide in each other about their aspirations, loyalties, marriage, motherhood and Nigerian Politics- Much to the chagrin of Remi’s husband, Tunde. He suspects that Frances is an American Spy gathering information for the CIA. 

Undeterred, Remi continues to share her views with Frances until the February 13 assassination of General Muhammed. This incident prompts Remi to begin to view their relationship in a different light thereby creating a strain as she begins to doubt that the bead collector is actually who she claims to be.

the bead collector


Reading this book reminded me so much of all the things I’ve grown to hate about Lagos; the lack of authenticity and the shallowness. Sefi Atta is able to capture the very insular (look mama I’ve learned a new word) nature of Lagos in just 376 pages and believe this is no ordinary feat.

The bead collector is an easy read. The story is relatable and hinges on societal secrets and scandals. And what do we say to the goddess of secrets and scandals; spill that tea hunnay!!!! I think everyone has that friend that knows gist about everyone else and is never afraid to spill it and most times is a tad hypocritical that was how I felt about this book and about Remi. I really enjoyed this book and if you are a fan of digging into the lives of the rich and bourgeoisie then this is the book for you!!!!

the Bead Collector