Abubakar Adam Ibrahim’s debut novel, Season of Crimson Blossoms, comes out November 10. Two publishing powerhouses—Parresia and Cassava Republic—are coming together to publish the novel in Nigeria and the UK, respectively.
Set in a conservative Hausa society, Season of Crimson Blossoms tells the story of a 55 year old widow who has an illicit affair with a street gang leader half her age.
We haven’t read the novel, but we hear from very, very reliable quarters that the novel is a spectacular read. First of all, it was edited by the African editing Czar, Ellah Allfrey. Second, renowned South African novelist Zoe Wicomb is going to bat for the novel, calling it “a powerful and compelling debut!”
Third, Season of Crimson Blossoms is a story about life in Northern Nigeria. That in itself is remarkable. Why? In the robust history of Nigerian literature written in English, so much has been written about places like Lagos, not so much about the northern parts of Nigeria. Kudos to Parresia and Cassava Republic for promoting diversity in the Nigerian literary scene.
We’ve been on Ibrahim’s trail ever since he was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing. He has since gone on to do lots of wonderful things like being longlisted for the Etisalat Prize and spending time in Italy as a Civitella Ranieri Fellow earlier this year.
Ibrahim says the novel explores “love, desire, heartbreak, hope, the human condition and our collective humanity.” But—truth be told—we are more interested in that part of the novel that explores a steaming love affair between an older woman and a young rebel warrior. At Brittle Paper, we love it when African writers go all boundary-pushing with their exploration of sexuality. We also love how the title Season of Crimson Blossoms nods to the African classic, Seasons of Migration to the North.
Enjoy this bit of steamy excerpt we acquired exclusively for you guys:
Two nights later, when he was tossing and turning on the bed next to her, she knew he would nudge her with his knee and she would have to throw her legs open. He would lift her wrapper, spit into her crotch and mount her. His calloused fingers would dig into the mounds on her chest and he would bite his lower lip to prevent any moan escaping. She would count slowly under her breath, her eyes closed, of course. And somewhere between sixty and seventy – always between sixty and seventy – he would grunt, empty himself and roll off her until he was ready to go again. Zubairu was a practical man and fancied their intimacy as an exercise in conjugal frugality. It was something to be dispensed with promptly, without silly ceremonies.
She wanted it to be different. She had always wanted it to be different. And so when he nudged her that night, instead of rolling on to her back and throwing her legs apart, she rolled into him and reached for his groin. He instinctively moaned when she caressed his hardness and they both feared their first son, lying on a mattress across the room, would stir.
‘What the hell are you doing?’ The words, half-barked, half-whispered, struck her like a blow. He pinned her down and, without further rituals, lifted her wrapper. She turned her face to the wall and started counting. The tears slipped down the side of her closed eyes before she got to twenty.