Nigerian novelist turned filmmaker Biyi Bandele surprised fans with news of a new novel. The novel, which is titled Yorùbá Boy Running, will be published by Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Books. The publication date is set for 2023. His fans have had to wait 14 years since the first novel, so this is welcome news.
Like Bandele’s novel Burma Boy, Yorùbá Boy Running is historical fiction. The novel presents a fictionalized account of Samuel Àjàyí Crowther’s life. Crowther is the first African bishop in the Anglican Church. The story begins in 1821 when Àjàyí’s hometown Osogun is attacked by a Malian slave-raiding army and the entire town captured and sold into slavery.
Hannah Chukwu, assistant editor at Hamish Hamilton, writes that the upcoming novel is “witty, moving, and ambitious” and that it “documents with real thoughtfulness, an incredibly important chapter of African history.”
In a statement published in The Bookseller, Bandele notes that the novel captures a historical period that is close to his heart.
The life of my great-great-grandfather mirrored Crowther’s in many ways. Like Crowther, he was abducted and sold into slavery and like Crowther, he found his way back to Yorubaland, a missionary, after he was liberated in Sierra Leone and resettled in Freetown. I’m writing Yorùbá Boy Running for all the great Africans whose achievements have been erased or diminished, and I’m thrilled and thoroughly inspired to be starting this important and exhilarating new journey with Hamish Hamilton.
Yorùbá Boy Running most highlights a moment in Nigerian history that has been largely neglected by fiction writers until now.
Biyi Bandele is a Nigerian novelist, playwright and filmmaker. He writes fiction, theatre, journalism, television, film and radio. He is famously known his writing and directing of the film Half of a Yellow Sun based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel of the same title.