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December 17, 2018

Oyinkan Braithwaite's Playlist for Her Novel "My Sister, the Serial Killer"

My Sister, the Serial Killer

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Oyinkan Braithwaite's My Sister, the Serial Killer may be the year's most propulsive book, a smart and engaging literary thriller.

The New York Times wrote of the book:

"It’s Lagos noir — pulpy, peppery and sinister, served up in a comic deadpan…This book is, above all, built to move, to hurtle forward — and it does so, dizzyingly. There’s a seditious pleasure in its momentum. At a time when there are such wholesome and dull claims on fiction — on its duty to ennoble or train us in empathy — there’s a relief in encountering a novel faithful to art’s first imperative: to catch and keep our attention… This scorpion-tailed little thriller leaves a response, and a sting, you will remember."


In her own words, here is Oyinkan Braithwaite's Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel My Sister, the Serial Killer:



I do not write to music. I find music to be terribly distracting…I’ll end up singing at the top of my lungs or dancing; so I came up with this playlist after the fact. I hope you enjoy these songs as much as I do!

1. Simi, “One Kain”: In this song, the persona has discovered that she has fallen for her friend. And perhaps he is falling for her too, since he is looking at her a certain way… Unrequited love is a common theme in literature and in life – what do you do when you love someone and the person doesn’t reciprocate? Korede is forced to look on as her friend, who also happens to be the man of her dreams, courts her sister. This song would be a perfect accompaniment to the chapter titled SCRUBS.

2. Whitney Houston, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”: In the chapter titled DANCING, Ayoola is rocking to this song. I love to dance with this song, I think it is one of the best songs to dance to, especially if you have no rhythm! You don’t need it!

3. Pentatonix, “Hallelujah”: This cover is one of my favourite versions of this song. I believe it exemplifies the struggle between our very human desires and our quest to overcome our weaknesses and be the best we can be. And it soothes and serenades the ear. This song would be perfect for a montage of Ayoola leaving for Dubai with Gboyega, Korede calling her and trying to discover where she is, Tade with his head bowed waiting for his phone to ring (in the chapter named RESEARCH). But also, I love this song and would find a way to squeeze it into any and every playlist.

4. Lana del Rey, “Young and Beautiful”: Beauty was an important theme for me in my novel. Beauty and love are often intertwined in literature, in the arts, in life. Why this obsession with beauty, with youth?

5. Outkast, “Roses”: This song is about a woman who thinks far too much of herself and her beauty. Remind you of anyone? I have always enjoyed the sound, the playfulness, the uniqueness of this song and listening to it again, I was surprised at how apt it was.

6. Korede Bello, “Do Like That”: I really enjoy this jam. It is upbeat and sensual. I can imagine Tade and Ayoola dancing intimately to this song at her party in the chapter BIRTHDAY.

7. Emeli Sande, “Hurts”: I love this song for the chapter SECRET. It is a song that I believe illustrates Korede’s emotions. The first line says, Baby, I'm not made of stone, it hurts, and in many respects Korede’s feelings and emotions are overlooked by the people around her, even those who claim to love her.

8. Nina Simone, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”: I think this song would work well in either the first chapter BLEACH or the chapter BROKEN.

9. Kiana Lede, “I Choose You”: I know this is a love song, but I believe it illustrates the relationship between Korede and Ayoola, especially towards the end of the novel. And it is perfect for the chapter TRUTH.

10. Kendrick Lamar ft Rihanna, “Loyalty”: Let’s wrap up the novel with this song. Read the last line and immediately press play on this song!

11. Ariana Grande, “Thank You, Next”: This. This song was just released (November, 2018), and I had to add it to the playlist. It is perfect and apt. And Ariana isn’t talking about murdering her boyfriends; but she could be. This song would be another cool track to play at the end of the novel.


Oyinkan Braithwaite and My Sister, the Serial Killer links:

excerpts from the book

Minneapolis Star Tribune review
New York Times review
Publishers Weekly review
Washington Post review

NPR Books profile of the author
Vulture essay by the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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Largehearted Boy List of Online "Best Books of 2018" Lists

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
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my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

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guest book reviews
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