MITTON, Jennifer

Author Tags: Fiction

Jennifer Mitton's experiences in Nigeria as an SFU-trained teacher resulted in her first novel, Fadimatu (Goose Lane Editions, 1992), which captures the complexities of a young Nigerian woman's life in Northern Nigeria where she taught. The fictional tale shows how the bartering system, tribal frictions and conflicting religions all complicate the protagonist's desire for a more independent approach to life. Mitton previously taught in Clearbrook and Kyuquot, has lived and written in France and obtained an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. She was born in Edmonton in 1955. Her second novel was Sleeping with the Insane (Goose Lane Editions, 1995).

[BCBW 1995] "Fiction"

FADIMATU (Goose Lane $14.95)

Jennifer Mitton's FADIMATU (Goose Lane $14.95) is the realistic story of an independent minded daughter of a bicycle repairman in the northern Nigerian state of Adamawa. Expelled from school for refusing to sleep with the principal Fadimatu half-heartedly helps her father while trying to develop her own love life as an artist. She returns to the mission school with a teacher's certificate, but marries a prominent Moslem according to her father's wishes. "In northern Nigeria just getting water is foremost on their minds," says Mitton, who taught school in Nigeria for two years, "Feminist issues aren't exactly in the forefront." Consequently Mitton has portrayed one woman's struggle to amalgamate mixed emotions and ideas within a puzzling web of superstitions and customs which include female circumcision and arranged marriages. Fadimatu is neither a stubborn feminist heroine nor a tragic Karenina figure. Eventually Fadimatu must succumb to the paternalistic, post-barter-system culture of Nigeria's four conflicting tribal groups Hausa, Bachama, Ibo and Tiv- in conjunction with Christian and Moslem influences. "The northeast of Nigeria is seen as the most so-called underdeveloped area," says Mitton, who received her MFA in creative writing at UBC after her stint with CUSO, "but I would go back there in a flash." Born in Edmonton in 1955, Mitton took a translation degree in Montreal, has lived in France and taught school in Clearbrook and Kyuquot. She completed her novel in Marseilles, Nigeria and London. She lives in Vancouver. 0-86492-121-7

[BCBW, Autumn, 1992]