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Ayòbámi Adébáyò on how having the sickle cell trait inspired her bestselling debut


It has been quite a year for Ayòbámi Adébáyò. She is in London for International Women’s Day, as she was last year, when it was announced that her first novel had been longlisted for the Baileys prize. Stay With Me went on to make the shortlist and is now up for the Wellcome prize, the winner of which will be announced later this month. The novel was glowingly reviewed, not least by the New York Times’s high priestess Michiko Kakutani (“stunning”, “powerfully magnetic and heartbreaking”); Sarah Jessica Parker chose it for the American Library’s book club; and the author, who has just turned 30, has been interviewed in both the Paris Review and Vogue.

When we meet, she has come from the BBC, where she had been discussing the #MeToo movement in Nigeria. “It’s complex and very different across regions, across class, maybe even across religions,” Adébáyò says, describing what it means to be a young woman in her home country.

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