Nigerian author Esther Ifesinachi Okonkwo officially makes her fiction debut with a sensational novel about a Nigerian woman’s pursuits in American academia. Titled The Tiny Things are Heavier, the novel will be published by Bloomsbury in spring 2025.

Okonkwo’s debut novel chronicles the life of a Nigerian woman who travels to the U.S. for graduate school only two weeks after her brother attempts suicide. According to Publisher’s Marketplace, the novel traces “the complicated relationships she forms—romantic and platonic—as she tries to find her place at home and abroad.”

Set between the American Midwest and Lagos, Nigeria, The Tiny Things are Heavier is a story of family, grief, privilege, and coming-of-age within cultural rupture. Living with the grief of the tragedy as well as the rigor of graduate school, the main character must figure out a path through the upheavals in her life.

The synopsis of this novel sounds fascinating, especially since Okonkwo is a graduate student herself. The topic of international grad students from Africa definitely needs attention from contemporary writers and we are glad that Okonkwo is choosing to portray the main character through this lens.

See Okonkwo’s excitement on her publication news below:

Esther Ifesinachi Okonkwo is currently a second-year PhD student in creative writing at Florida State University. She previously taught creative writing as an adjunct professor at the University of Iowa. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and her fiction has appeared in Isele Magazine, Ake Review, and Catapult.

Congrats to Okonkwo on her debut novel!