Cameroonian author Musih Tedji Xaviere will make her debut with a story about forbidden queer love between a Christian and a Muslim girl. Titled These Letters End in Tears, the novel is set to be published in the UK by Jacaranda Books on March 28, 2024 and by Masobe Books in Nigeria.
Xaviere’s debut novel is a heart-wrenching forbidden love story of a Christian girl, Bessem, with a deviant heart and a Muslim girl, Fatima, leading a double life. The novel is set in Cameroon, a country where same-sex relationships are punishable by law. However, star-crossed lovers, Bessem and Fatima, try to exist authentically in a society where the odds are stacked against them.
The novel’s beautiful title These Letters End in Tears comes from the centrality of letters to its plot. After Fatima goes missing following her brother’s discovery of her sexuality, Bessem spends years looking for answers to her lover’s whereabouts, writing unsendable letters in an effort to keep hope alive in a search that feels wrapped in futility.
Xaviere’s heartrending story is an important addition to African queer literature. The CEO of Jacaranda Books Valerie Brandes remarks that she feels fortunate to be publishing this incredible novel, calling it, “an insightful and heartfelt debut that highlights part of the LGBTQIA+ experience in Cameroon and introduces the reader to women that face extraordinary prejudicial obstacles in service of loving one another.”
Xaviere herself seems excited about the publication of her debut novel:
I’m thrilled that Fatima and Bessem’s story will soon reach readers around the world. These characters live life in fear and hope, deprived of the chance to tell their stories. Thank you, Jacaranda, for providing a platform where their voices can be heard. I really hope that readers fall in love with them as much as I have and end up rooting for love to win.
Musih Tedji Xaviere is a Cameroonian fiction writer based in the UK. Her debut novel, These Letters End in Tears, won the 2021 Pontas and JJ Bola Emerging Writers Prize, an international mentoring prize for un-agented, unpublished, under-represented writers from Black, ethnic minority, and working-class backgrounds writing in English. She is represented by the Pontas Literary and Film Agency.
Congrats to Xaviere on her upcoming debut!