Yomi Adegoke © Mollana Burke

Book Review: The List by Yomi Adegoke

Home » Culture » Book Review: The List by Yomi Adegoke

12 September 2023

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Call me a cynic, and plenty have, but I tend not to believe reviewers when they say things like ‘this book will define a decade’ or ‘this novel embodies the zeitgeist like no other’.

But they weren’t far off the mark with The List, the debut novel from British journalist/podcaster Yomi Adegoke.

The Guardian and British Vogue columnist blasts into the literary stratosphere with her tale of secrets, lies and the internet, in particular, our morally complicated online culture.

Influencers Ola and Michael are a young Insta-famous couple, the king and queen of #blacklove. They’re about to get married in a ceremony that will scorch London’s social media-scape.

But a month before the wedding, someone anonymously publishes The List on Twitter, a document featuring the names of men in the media accused of sexual misconduct against women. Quelle surprise, it quickly goes viral.

Ola, the slightly precious star journalist of feminist publication Womxxxn, would normally be all over the story. Until she sees Michael’s name on The List.

Her beloved it turns out, has been accused of harassment and assaulting a woman at a Christmas party, claims he strenuously denies.

Moral meet dilemma. Does Ola stand by her man or does she end the relationship because of an anonymous allegation? Does she really know who Michael is? And who the hell is behind The List?

Narrated from both Michael and Ola’s perspective, this is a murky deep dive into the paradoxical nature of social media – it can make you, but just as quickly break you. Anyone with a brain in their head knows social media can be a useful forum for voices but are those voices always honest? Or are they motivated by revenge?

Other gnarly questions arise: how far should Ola go to defend the one she loves, what of those who are falsely accused and where do we even start with cancel culture?

You know it isn’t going to end well for either Ola or Michael, although I’m sure I wasn’t the only one feeling a little bit sorry for the latter (and some of the others on The List although clearly not all, as evidenced by some of the heinous blokes Yomi introduces us to). But as a treatise on
contemporary digital culture, this exciting new writer breaks fertile ground.

Naturally, this book has TV adaptation written all over it and no-one is better placed than Yomi, who explored the permutations of black British celebrity culture as co-author of 2018’s bestselling self help manual Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, to write the screenplay.

She invites us to step over the threshold of social media and into the court of public opinion – and even if we don’t like what we see, it’s a cracking read.

Book Cover The List

The List By Yomi Adegoke (HarperCollins, RRP $35.00)

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