The Phoenix
Chika Unigwe’s first novel, The Phoenix (2007), opens as the main character, a young Nigerian woman named Oge, travels by train from her home in Turnhout, Belgium, to a hospital in Leuven where she has shortly before been diagnosed with breast cancer. It is progressively revealed that the protagonist’s life is also falling apart on other levels: Oge is struggling to come to terms with the coldness and superficiality of social interactions in Flanders, and her relationship with her Belgian husband, Gunter, has deteriorated to such an extent that the couple hardly exchange any words. The painful reason at the heart of this estrangement becomes clear only later.

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Although originally written in English, The Phoenix first appeared in Dutch translation under the title De Feniks, published by Antwerp- and Amsterdam-based Meulenhoff Manteau in 2005. It was one of the first novels published in by a Belgian writer with African roots.

The original English version was published by Lagos-based Farafina in 2007.

“This is a story about how tragic loss can totally consume a human being. Chika Unigwe’s spare and accessible telling has created a truly poignant narrative.”
  — Ike Oguine, author of A Squatter’s Tale

The Phoenix is an impressive novel. It hurts in its acuteness. It stands out in its brilliant sentences, its lyrical, compelling prose and its spectacular imagery.”
  — Erwin Mortier, author of Marcel
© 2016-2020 Chika Unigwe. Website: Daria Tunca.