We’re delighted to reveal the cover of Blessings, a stunning, searing debut about a young gay man’s coming-of-age in Nigeria, by 22-year-old novelist and former Brittle Paper staff writer Chukwuebuka Ibeh.
Blessings will be published by Viking Books UK on February 22, 2024 and is available for preorder now.
The artwork on the cover is by Kalejaye O. Tosin, a self-taught contemporary visual artist from Abuja, Nigeria. Art direction is done by Richard Bravery from the Penguin General Art Department who certainly captured the style of Ibeh’s storytelling.
We love the pastel background of sky blue, peach, and cream, almost resembling a seashore for the sense of openness and serenity it evokes. The heart of the cover, the captivating centerpiece, is the portrait of a young black boy with searing eyes gazing at the reader. So much tenderness in his eyes but also defiance and curiosity that it’s impossible to look away. How about the lattice texture running throughout his dark, luminescent skin, giving the appearance of being split into pieces, in keeping with the novel’s focus on finding oneself? The cover for Blessings is one of the most artistic and mesmerizing we have seen in a long while.
Ibeh states in a note sent to us that he feels a deep sense of relief that everything about the cover meets his expectation:
As a book cover junkie, I’d been curious and nervous about mine. I personally brainstormed a couple contenders, but nothing could’ve possibly matched this final gorgeous product. I love the splash of delicate colors, the contours, and the stunning artwork that is, quite eerily, an exact rendition of my protagonist Obiefuna, as I imagined him.”
Blessings is a queer coming-of-age novel set in Nigeria and told from the perspectives of a mother and her son in a time when Nigeria criminalizes same-sex relationships. The novel begins when the son Obiefuna is banished to a strict Christian boarding school by his father after an intimate moment between Obiefuna and the family’s apprentice. Feeling alienated, Obiefuna begins a journey of self-discovery and blossoming desire, while his mother struggles to hold onto her favorite son.
Chukwuebuka Ibeh is a 22-year-old writer from Port Harcourt, Nigeria. His writing has appeared in McSweeneys, The New England Review of Books, and Lolwe, amongst others, and he was a staff writer at Brittle Paper. 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 currently completing his MFA at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Preorder Blessings here!