“A bold new storyteller…Abi Daré’s fearless debut is a celebration of girls who dare to dream and those who help unfurl their wings so that they might soar.”
– Imbolo Mbue
THE GIRL WITH THE LOUDING VOICE
Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. Her mother tells her it’s the only way to get a ‘louding voice’, the ability to speak for herself and decide her own future. But when her mother dies, Adunni’s life changes overnight. In need of money, her father breaks his promise, and sells his daughter into marriage. Adunni’s life, her hopes and dreams, amount to this: four goats, two bags of rice, some chickens and a new TV.
When unspeakable tragedy swiftly strikes in her new home, she is secretly sold as a domestic servant to a household in the wealthy enclaves of Lagos, where no one will talk about the strange disappearance of her predecessor, Rebecca. No one but Adunni, that is…
As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless house help, Adunni is repeatedly told that she is nothing. But Adunni will not be silenced. She is determined to find her voice, however she can – in a whisper, in song, in broken English – until she can speak for herself, for the girls that came before, and for all the girls who will come after.
Abi Daré grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and has lived in the UK for over 18 years. She studied law at the University of Wolverhampton and has an M.Sc. in International Project Management from Glasgow Caledonian University.
Keen to improve her writing, Abi completed an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck University of London, achieving a Distinction. Her novel, The Girl with The Louding Voice won The Bath Novel Award in 2018 and was selected as a finalist in The Literary Consultancy Pen Factor competition in 2018. Abi lives in Essex with her husband and two children.
‘When I was growing up, I lived in a middle- class housing estate in Lagos, Nigeria, and practically every family who lived there had a housemaid. The maids were often very young, female and brought into the city from remote villages. or neighbouring countries. They spoke little or no English and would arrive with just a carrier bag of a few personal items. The maids in my neighbourhood were easy to spot: a young girl with unkempt hair dressed in tattered, dirty clothes, standing behind a family of well-dressed, well-fed, well-spoken children, with her head bent, silent. These maids worked and cleaned and cooked from morning ‘til night. As a young girl, I would wonder: why were they not allowed to watch TV? To eat at the dining table? To wear nice clothes?
There were stories of physical and sexual assault, of pregnancies that would disappear before it could show, of maids who rebelled and ran away. But it wasn’t until I had my own daughters that I began to deeply reflect on this aspect of my childhood. When my daughter turned eight, it struck me that in Nigeria, a girl the same age as her could be working for nothing for a family like mine. From then on, the image of that girl became impossible to ignore. I saw her every time I looked at my daughter.
I discovered, to my dismay, that little has changed since I left Nigeria. Underaged girls are still being employed, still suffering abuse, and there are horror stories all over social media. When I read them, I thought, who is the real girl behind this story? Does she have a family? What does she want out of life? Does she have hopes and dreams? The Girl with the Louding Voice was born out of a desire to try to answer some of these questions.
I hope that, beyond being engaged, transported and entertained, readers of my novel will hear Adunni’s voice, and the voices of several million other girls just like her, who are living desperate lives in modern slavery. Perhaps when their stories are heard, things will change.’ ABI DARÉ
Photo of Abi Daré © AMP