Nigeria’s Booker-shortlisted author of The Fishermen, Chigozie Obioma, has had his second novel acquired by the publishing house Little, Brown for release in 2019. The beautifully titled An Orchestra of Minorities will, according to The Bookseller, be “about the life of a troubled young poultry farmer who sacrifices everything to win the woman he loves.” This second book, which was initially slated to be called The Falconer, is already being hailed as “an epic of Igbo civilisation.”
The deal was struck by Little, Brown’s commissioning editor, Ailah Ahmed, who bought the book’s UK and Commonwealth rights from Jessica Craig at Craig Literary Agency. Its North American rights were subsequently sold to Little, Brown’s US vice president and editor-in-chief Judy Clain.
Set between Nigeria and Cyprus, according to Little, Brown it is “a modern epic of Igbo civilisation”, dealing with myth, spirituality, life, death, obsession and ownership. It can also be read as a parable about a civilisation lurching towards modernity, sometimes at the cost of abandoning the wisdom of elders.
Ahmed commented the new book would be “just as beautiful” as his debut and Little, Brown had an “energetic” campaign in store. It will be published in both the UK and US in spring 2019.
Commenting on the development, Ailah Ahmed said:
“Chigozie Obioma is one of the most exciting young writers at work today. I loved The Fishermen and couldn’t quite believe he had written it at the age of 25 – he then went on to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. An Orchestra of Minorities is just as beautiful as The Fishermen, and is filled with compassion, empathy and insight into complex characters and human lives, as well as some of the most ambitious and stylish storytelling I have come across. I feel lucky to be working with Chigozie who has a very bright future ahead of him as he builds on his early successes to become one of the most original and compelling writers of our generation. We have a very energetic campaign lined up for the novel.”
Obioma, who was born in 1986 in Akure where his debut novel The Fishermen is set, is currently Assistant Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The Fishermen, published in 2015 by Pushkin Press, was ushered in with a massive publicity campaign and became one of Africa’s most awarded debuts. A winner of the 2015 FT/Oppenheimer Emerging Voices Award for Fiction, the 2016 Los Angeles Times Book Prize’s Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Debut Author), the novel was also shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, the 2015 Guardian First Book Award and the 2015 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. It further made the longlists for the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature and the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize, while appearing on many Best Book of the Year lists, including those by the New York Times Book Review, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and NPR. Early this year, the British theatre company New Perspectives began work on adapting it for the stage.
On the development, Obioma said:
“I’m thrilled at the prospect of making this book with Ailah and the folks at Little, Brown, UK. Their enthusiasm for An Orchestra of Minorities and The Fishermen has been great, and I couldn’t feel more satisfied to be working with such a wonderful editor in Ailah. It is pleasing that she will be working with Judy Clain, also at Little, Brown US, in a collaboration I’m convinced will yield great results.”
Congratulations to Chigozie Obioma. We wish him the best and look forward to seeing his novel.
Find out more in The Bookseller.