Zainab Omaki’s Side Babies: Contemporary Women In Africa is a collection of short stories exploring the lives of women. The debut collection comes as a recent addition to the fast growing catalogue of UK-based publishing house Bahati Books.

The modern African woman takes center stage in all seven stories inspired by the realities of being female in a place such as Nigeria. Omaki presents beautiful accounts of women set on journeys of self-discovery even as they are caught up in the intricacies of love, romance, and other intimate relationships. Side Babies is, in many ways, a literary tableaux representing various forms of modern African love—from a feminine perspective.

“A man and woman begin an intense romance and find their lives unexpectedly linked to the rise and fall of their disintegrating nation. A young woman learns to shed all she has been taught and bravely find out who she is for herself. In a deserted town, a woman is captured by militants and held captive at a young age. She transcends her painful past but struggles with the scars it leaves behind. A woman in the throes of traumatic heartbreak attempts to contain her grief and slowly learns to move on. In the titular story, a dynamic musician and a talented groupie take a journey of both love and music, creating history the world will not soon forget.”

Omaki has an aptitude for delicately depicting those moments in life when the private world of love and romance collide with larger forces that shape society and public identity. She succeeds in infusing seemingly mundane and personal experiences of love, relationships, and self-discovery with the gravity and drama of broader cultural concerns. Omaki’s writing is beautiful and relatable, making for an engrossing and emotionally impactful read.

Side Babies is unapologetically “about women and for women.” Omaki constructs feminine worlds around women who live their lives on their own terms. A refreshing contribution to contemporary African fiction!

Omaki lives and works as a journalist in Abuja. Brittle Paper readers are no stranger to her work. Earlier this year she wrote the gorgeous girl-power manifesto titled “We are the Second Best Girls,” which we published, to the delight our readers. But our relationship with Omaki goes much earlier. A little over a year ago, we published her story “The Dissolution of Love and State,” which, it turns out, has been republished as one of the seven beautiful stories in Side Babies. We are delighted that a story originally published on Brittle Paper is taking on a new life in a collected edition and, as a result, reaching a new audience. But we are far more excited for Omaki for authoring a book as lovely as Side Babies.

Click here to download on Amazon.

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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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