What makes an unputdownable read? It’s usually an indelible combination of compelling, complicated characters; a propulsive, suspenseful plot; a glamorous setting; a dash of romance; and thorny themes that are sure to inspire frenzied debate. Yomi Adegoke’s new novel, The List—the prolific journalist and British Vogue columnist’s first solo publication following the success of Slay in Your Lane, Loud Black Girls, and The Offline Diaries, co-written with her friend Elizabeth Uviebinené—has all of that in spades, and is guaranteed to have you hooked from the first page.
At its heart is Ola, a British-Nigerian journalist with a reputation for breaking high-profile #MeToo stories, who works for the hilariously named feminist magazine Womxxxn. (Its founder, her older, white editor Frankie, chose the title after seeing the word “womxn” on Twitter and thinking it looked cool.) Ola’s about to marry the British-Ghanaian Michael, a presenter who recently landed an impressive new job at a men’s digital content platform which had previously been cancelled for having no non-white members of staff.
After Michael and Ola’s engagement photo goes viral, the pair become poster children for #BlackLove—that is, until an anonymous list appears on social media naming Michael, alongside a slew of other public figures, as an abuser. Is Michael actually guilty, or is he being framed? Has he been entirely truthful to Ola over the course of their relationship? Can Ola still bring herself to walk down the aisle in a month’s time? And regardless of the truth, will standing by her man destroy her career and credibility?
Flitting between Ola’s conflicted voice and Michael’s anguished one, the narrative takes you on a breathless ride through tense office meetings, raucous parties, dress fittings, and legal consultations as their wedding day approaches. When it finally arrives, that particular set piece is jaw-dropping, as are the numerous twists scattered throughout, each and every one profoundly cinematic—no surprise, then, that following an 11-way auction for the publishing rights, there was a 17-way battle for The List’s TV rights, which were eventually snapped up by A24, Max, and the BBC.
Adegoke, who has now begun work on penning and executive producing the upcoming series, is blown away, to say the least. Stunningly, she stumbled into writing almost by accident—while studying law, she took a year out and started a pop culture blog on a whim, which eventually led to her securing a series of grants that allowed her to create Birthday, a zine for young Black girls. A string of internships followed, after which she began working at ITN and, later, Channel 4 News. Slay in Your Lane, envisioned as “Lean In, but for Black women,” changed her life, but The List is poised to take her literary fame to a whole new level.