Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi’s debut fiction Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions comes out later this year. A collection of loosely interconnected short stories, it is described as a “novel in interlocking stories.” The stories span the distant past and the near future and are centered on 4 Nigerian women. A US edition will be published on September 13, 2022 by Amistad and by Trapeze Books in the United Kingdom.
The novel covers 1897 to 2050 and takes place in Nigeria, Ghana, Poland, and the U.S. In the stories, four young women meet at a Nigerian boarding school and share a series of experiences that change their lives. The publisher’s note explains further:
Leaving school and adolescence behind, the women grapple with the unexpected possibilities—and limitations—of adulthood and the uncertainties of the world within and outside of Nigeria. A trip to Ghana opens Nonso’s eyes to the lasting impact of the transatlantic slave trade, she falls in love with an African American, and makes a new home in the United States. Remi meets Segun, a dynamic man of Nigerian descent from Yonkers whose own traumatic struggles and support gives her the strength to confront painful family wounds. Aisha’s overwhelming sense of guilt haunts her, influencing career and relationship decisions until she sees a chance to save her son’s life and, through her sacrifice, redefine her own.
Ogunyemi grew up in Nigeria, in the city of Ibadan. She credits her voracious reading habit, developed at a young age, to her mother being a literature professor at the University of Ibadan and having books all over the house. As a child, she enjoyed the usual favorites like Enid Blyton but also sunk her teeth into James Baldwin, Flora Nwapa, Richard Wright, Buchi Emecheta, Chinua Achebe, and more. This “unquenchable curiosity” for books has blossomed into an accomplished literary career.
She has been writing since the 2000s. She was a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Studzinski Literary Award for her short story “Area Boy Rescue.” The titular story of this collection was originally published in Ploughshares. She now lives in Los Angeles where she works as a biomedical informatician.