Viking recently acquired our very own 22-year-old Chukwuebuka Ibeh’s debut novel Blessings by in an exclusive submission. The book tells the story of a young gay man’s coming-of-age in 2010s Nigeria and is slated for publication in spring 2024.

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of son and mother Obiefuna and Uzoamaka, as they reach towards a united future. Ibeh’s novel is a stunning debut that tells an “elegant and exquisitely moving story of love and loneliness.”

Isabel Wall, Editorial Director at Viking, acquired World English rights to Ibeh’s Blessings from Emma Leong at Janklow & Nesbit, in an exclusive submission. Wall said to the Bookseller that Ibeh’s “talent is unmistakeable” and she “could not be prouder to be bringing his miraculous debut into the world.”

Ibeh commented that he has “been interested in the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2014, and in interrogating how unprovoked, cynical politics can impact ordinary lives.” Blessings engages themes crucial to Ibeh’s writing such as “parental love, the question of self-hood, friends and friendships, loneliness and longing.”

Read the full book description below:

When Obiefuna’s father witnesses an intimate moment between his teenage son and the family’s apprentice, newly arrived from the nearby village, he banishes Obiefuna to a strict Christian boarding school. Surrounded by unknown faces that soon become friends, lovers, and enemies, Obiefuna finds and hides who he truly is, while his mother Uzoamaka grapples to hold onto her favourite son, her truest friend. Leaving school as a young man, Nigeria criminalizes same-sex relationships – and Obiefuna’s life, or the life he wants to live, becomes even harder to envision – out of a reach in a way that is more dangerous and tangible than before.

Chukwuebuka Ibeh is a 22-year-old promising writer from Port Harcourt, Nigeria. His writing has appeared in McSweeneys, The New England Review of Books and Lolwe, amongst others, and he is a staff writer at Brittle Paper. He has studied creative writing under Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dave Eggers and Tash Aw. Speaking at a creative writing workshop in 2018, Adiche remarked, “Chukwuebuka Ibeh’s writing has a certain delicacy to it, so wonderfully observant, and so beautiful.”

Ibeh was the Runner-up for the 2021 J.F Powers Prize for Fiction, a finalist for the Gerald Kraak Award and Morland Foundation Scholarship and was profiled as one of the “Most Promising New Voices of Nigerian Fiction” in Electric Literature. He is a student on a fully funded MFA programme at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, until 2024. See his reaction to the novel in the tweet below:

Congratulations to our very own Ibeh on his debut novel! Blessings will be available as hardcover, ebook, and audiobook in spring 2024.