Zadie Smith and Chukwuebuka Ibeh.

Award-winning British writer Zadie Smith recently recommended our very own former Brittle Paper staff writer Chukwuebuka Ibeh’s debut novel. Blessings will be published by Viking Books UK on February 22, 2024 and is available for preorder.

Smith was recently interviewed at a book signing for her newest book Fraud and asked which book she would recommend to readers. Although she seemed a little flustered by the question, she picked up the book next to her and said that she would recommend Blessings since she was reading it at the moment.

Check out the video of Smith here:


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Blessings is a searing debut novel about a young gay man’s coming-of-age in Nigeria. It is told from the perspectives of a mother and her son in a time when Nigeria criminalizes same-sex relationships. 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 McSweeneysThe 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!