Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 343
Ada is the main character in the novel. She grows up in Nigeria and then Malaysia. From the moment she's born, she's haunted by voices in her head that she identifies as ogbanje—a kind of dark spirit made of many voices. They're her brothersisters. She's a difficult, tumultuous baby. As she gets older, she hurts herself to keep the ogbanje satisfied. Much of the story is narrated by the dual personalities inside her. When she's assaulted while at college in Virginia, one of the two more complete personalities takes over her more completely.
Saachi, Ada's mother, is the sixth of eight children. She is a small woman from Melaka who works as a nurse. They're living in Nigeria when she gets pregnant. They have a son named Chima, who is born before Ada. They have a daughter after her.
Saul is Ada's father. He married Saachi in London. He's described as a handsome, forceful man. He and his wife have a 12-year age gap. He's working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital when Ada is born.
The brothersisters are some of the personalities that are born with Ada. They tend to speak in a collective "we."
Asughara is one of the personalities—she is the darker one. She rises to the surface and takes over Ada after she's sexually assaulted by Soren. She drives Ada to self-destructive behavior that hurts other people. She works both in Ada's mind and in the moral realm.
Saint Vincent is the other personality that assumes control of Ada. He's born with Asughara in Virginia. He's calmer and described as long-fingered and cool "with slow simmering hungers." Unlike Asughara, they say he is not godspawn. He tends to be more in control in Ada's dreams and there would reshape her into a man complete with the required parts. He moved in Ada's mind and in the other realm.
Soren is a Danish boy that Ada dates. He eventually assaults her; this is what leads to Asughara taking control of Ada.
Ewan is Ada's husband. Their marriage ends badly.
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