The Lives of Others: Trauma and Precariousness in Sefi Atta's Everything Good Will Come

Kayode Omoniyi Ogunfolabi, Obafemi Awolowo University


One of the major concerns of Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come is the vulnerability of women in a social order structured largely by patriarchal power that often excludes women as “other.” This otherness, in symbolic and material sense, sometimes produces pain of traumatic proportion. The paper explores the ways in which women’s suffering tends to constitute a voice that calls for help and how others respond to this plea. It deploys Judith Butler’s Precarious Lives: The Powers of Mourning and Violence as an analytical model because of its argument that one’s survival after a destructive event depends on acknowledging the suffering of others. Atta’s novel becomes an important template on which the idea of precariousness produces its signification. In other words, Everything Good Will Come shows in order to mitigate the pain of others it is important to enter into the space of mutual precariousness. More importantly, the paper suggests that this novel has done more than being sensitive to the traumatic pain of other people by enacting a narrative possibility for Nigerian women’s fiction that projects a different politics that privileges the sacrificial commitment to the cause of others.


Women, otherness, trauma, precariousness, sacrificial

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