Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma has a new novel on its way. This book is his third and follows the Booker-shortlisted The Fishermen (2015) and An Orchestra of Minorities (2019). Titled The Road to the Country, Obioma’s new work is set in mid-20th century Nigeria, following two brothers in search for reckoning and exploring larger themes of spirituality, grief, longing, sibling rivalry and guilt.
The novel rights were acquired by Ailah Ahmed, publishing director of Hutchinson Heinemann, for UK and the Commonwealth in a two-book deal from Anna Webber at United Agents, on behalf of Bill Clegg at The Clegg Agency. US rights were sold to David Ebershoff at Hogarth.
The publisher’s note describes the novel as:
The Road to the Country is an extraordinary coming-of-age story which begins in 1950s Nigeria when a bereaved seer embarks on a visionary journey into the future of a child yet unborn. That boy, Kunle, is a university student in Lagos burdened with a guilty conscience and who sets out to rescue his missing brother from Biafra, a country at war, only to find himself conscripted to fight in one of the most devastating and under-examined conflicts of the 20th century. The fate of the seer and the young soldier will merge in a devastating and epic coming-of-age novel akin to war classics such as All Quiet on the Western Front.
Ailah Ahmed stated her delight at acquiring the novel. She praised Obioma for his ambitious writing, describing the forthcoming novel as “sure to become a modern classic.”
In an interview, Chigozie Obioma explains the significance of this novel for African literature:
The Road to the Country is for me a return to the subject of sibling rivalry and the search for reckoning explored through the lens of two men who are burdened—one with grief, and the other, with a guilty conscience. It is also an attempt to fill a gap I believe is essential: a lot of non-fiction and most of the fiction on the war have mostly dwelt on civilians living through the mayhem, but hardly any war novel in the real sense of that word that’s still in print today. My hope is that this book fills that gap. I could not be more thrilled to move with Ailah Ahmed to Hutchinson Heinemann. Ahmed is a wonderful editor and extraordinary publisher, and the combination of herself and David Ebershoff of Hogarth US is any writer’s dream!
Obioma’s work has appeared in several notable publications including Granta, The New York Times, and Virginia Quarterly Review. He is the recipient of many accolades including The NAACP Awards for Debut Book, the FT/Oppenheimer Awards, and the LA Times’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. He earned the distinction of being the first African writer to be consecutively shortlisted for the Booker Prize for his debut and follow-up novels. He is currently an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska.
We can’t wait for the new novel!