Viking UK, an imprint of Penguin General, one of the publishing houses of Penguin Books, has snapped up a work by Chukwuebuka Ibeh, a Nigerian writer in an exclusive deal.
The forthcoming book titled ‘Blessings’, it is understood, will be published in the spring of 2024.
Isabel Wall, the editorial director at Viking, acquired world English rights to ‘Blessings’ in an exclusive submission.
The fictional work sees Ibeh tell the story of a young gay man’s coming-of-age in 2010s Nigeria.
Its synopsis reads: “Obiefuna’s father witnesses an intimate moment between his teenage son and the family’s apprentice, newly arrived from the nearby village. He banishes Obiefuna to a strict Christian boarding school.
“Surrounded by unknown faces that soon become friends, lovers, and enemies, Obiefuna finds and hides who he truly is, while his mother Uzoamaka grapples to hold on to her favourite son, her truest friend.
“Leaving school as a young man, Nigeria criminalises same-sex relationships.
“Obiefuna’s life, or the life he wants to live, becomes even harder to envision, out of a reach in a way that is more dangerous and tangible than before.”
— Chukwuebuka Ibeh (@ChukwuebukaIbe4) October 31, 2022
Hailing from Port Harcourt, Ibeh is a student in a fully funded MFA programme at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, until 2024.
His writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, the New England Review of Books, and Lolwe, among others.
He is a staff writer at Brittle Paper, a literary publication.
Speaking on Ibeh’s work, Wall said: “I first came across Chukwuebuka’s writing two years ago.
“I read a stunningly moving short story of his online and immediately contacted him to ask if he’d ever thought of writing a novel. His talent is unmistakable.
“I could not be prouder to be bringing his miraculous début into the world.”
On the submission, Ibeh in turn said: “I’ve long been interested in the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2014, and in interrogating how unprovoked, cynical politics can impact ordinary lives.
“Blessings equally engages themes that are at the core of my writing: parental love, the question of self-hood, friends and friendships, loneliness and longing.
“It is a joy for me to have the novel find a home at Viking, particularly through Isabel Wall whose editorial work I have long admired.”
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