Julie Iromuanya’s debut novel, Mr. and Mrs. Doctor is a slam dunk when it comes to literary fiction. While so many of today’s new releases just aren’t worth taking the time to read, we can say with certainty that is not the case with this book. Just the opposite, this is a book worth getting your hands on ASAP and then passing along to everyone you know.
The premise is simple: “a Nigerian couple in an arranged marriage begin their lives together in Nebraska.” Through the thick of things affairs are had, jealousy ensues, and a long road of demise is created. Entertaining enough, but that’s just the surface level.
Iromuanya, who is the American born daughter of two Igno Nigerian immigrants, does not shy away when it comes to picking apart the idealization of the American dream in Mr. and Mrs. Doctor. She explores the near impossibility of achieving great things in the United States for those who are not born into wealth and a majority race — specifically honing in on the struggles of immigrant communities and the deeply impoverished.
With a lead character who is as damaged as the idea of American dream itself, this book might read to some as an utter tragedy — and while it can be difficult to read, we have to say we appreciate the crucial issues being looked at in the layers of this text. Iromuanya will have readers shifting in their seats during this read, hopefully reexamining the world (and more specifically, country) that surrounds them. As one of the book’s characters states:
“I hate it here. I hate the way it smells. I hate the busted cars. I hate the trains at night. I hate the white people staring at me all the time. Don’t know why anyone would want to come here.”
Featured Image: Coffee House Press