Tope Folarin’s debut novel is titled A Particular Kind of Black Man and is set for a summer 2019 release by American publisher Simon and Schuster.
Folarin became one of the break out stars of African literature in 2013 after he won the Caine Prize for African Writing. His winning short story titled “Miracle” is a mesmerizing account of a little boy’s life in a small town in Utah.
The debut novel extends some of the key ideas in the story in order to address larger questions about the complexities of identity. Folarin suggests as much in a Facebook message announcing the book:
“I’ve waited a long time to say this: I have finished my novel. It’s called A Particular Kind of Black Man, and it will be out next summer from Simon & Schuster. I’ve never worked harder on anything in my life, and I’m so very proud of it.
When I started working on this a few years ago, I wanted to write a novel that captured how I feel about identity—how slippery it can be; how it defines us and, at times, confines us as well—and I also wanted wanted to explore the possibilities of what a novel can be. I believe I’ve achieved both of these things, and I can’t wait for you to read it.”
A Particular Kind of Black Man tells the story of Tunde Akinola and his struggle to make sense of his new life in America.
Read the full synopsis:
Living in small-town Utah has always been an uneasy fit for Tunde Akinola’s family, especially for his Nigeria-born parents. Though Tunde speaks English with a Midwestern accent, he can’t escape the children who rub his skin and ask why the black won’t come off. As he struggles to fit in and find his place in the world, he finds little solace from his parents who are grappling with their own issues.
Tunde’s father, ever the optimist, works tirelessly chasing his American dream while his wife, lonely in Utah without family and friends, sinks deeper into schizophrenia. Then one otherwise-ordinary morning, Tunde’s mother wakes him with a hug, bundles him and his baby brother into the car, and takes them away from the only home they’ve ever known.
But running away doesn’t bring her, or her children, any relief from the demons that plague her; once Tunde’s father tracks them down, she flees to Nigeria, and Tunde never feels at home again. He spends the rest of his childhood and young adulthood searching for connection—to the wary stepmother and stepbrothers he gains when his father remarries; to the Utah residents who mock his father’s accent; to evangelical religion; to his Texas middle school’s crowd of African-Americans; to the fraternity brothers of his historically black college. In so doing, he discovers something that sends him on a journey away from everything he has known.
Sweeping, stirring, and perspective-shifting, A Particular Kind of Black Man is a beautiful and poignant exploration of the meaning of memory, manhood, home, and identity as seen through the eyes of a first-generation Nigerian-American.
The novel promises to be a significant contribution to the rich and expansive collection of novels exploring the lives of African immigrants in America. We can’t wait to see what new perspective Folarin brings to the challenges Africans face in their struggle to carve out a space of existence in American society.
Folarin is a gifted storyteller with a distinct lyrical style that draws readers in. We are excited to read his new offering.
Stay tuned for more news about the book’s release.
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