Blessings: A Novel (Hardcover)

Blessings: A Novel By Chukwuebuka Ibeh Cover Image
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Description


A BBC BEST BOOK OF 2024 • A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK • Moonlight meets Purple Hibiscus in this coming of age novel about self-acceptance, sexual awakening, and first love set in a Nigeria on the verge of criminalizing same-sex relationships

“Chukwuebuka Ibeh’s writing has a certain delicacy to it, so wonderfully observant, and so beautiful.” —Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Americanah


Obiefuna has always been the black sheep of his family—sensitive where his father, Anozie, is pragmatic, a dancer where his brother, Ekene, is a natural athlete. But when Obiefuna’s father witnesses an intimate moment between his teenage son and another boy, his deepest fears are confirmed, and Obiefuna is banished to boarding school.

As he navigates his new school’s strict hierarchy and unpredictable violence, Obiefuna both finds and hides who he truly is. Back home, his mother, Uzoamaka, must contend with the absence of her beloved son, her husband’s cryptic reasons for sending him away, and the hard truths that they’ve all been hiding from. As Nigeria teeters on the brink of criminalizing same-sex relationships, Obiefuna’s identity becomes more dangerous than ever before, and the life he wants drifts further out of reach.

Set in post-military Nigeria and culminating in the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2013, Blessings is an elegant and exquisitely moving story that asks how to live freely in a country that forbids one’s truest self, and what it takes for love to flourish despite it all.

About the Author


CHUKWUEBUKA IBEH is a writer from Port Harcourt, Nigeria, born in 2000. His writing has appeared in McSweeneys, New England Review of Books and Lolwe, amongst others, and he is a staff writer at Brittle Paper. He was the runner-up for the 2021 J.F. Powers Prize for Fiction, was a finalist for the Gerald Kraak Award, and was profiled as one of the "Most Promising New Voices of Nigerian Fiction" by Electric Literature. He has studied creative writing under Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dave Eggers, and Tash Aw, and is currently a an MFA student at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Praise For…


A BBC, Bustle, Betches, Electric Literature Best Book of 2024 Named one of USA Today, Esquire, & Cosmopolitan's most anticipated books of 2024 • Shortlisted for the 2024 Wilbur Smith Prize

“Lovely… Ibeh sets his story in the years leading up to the country’s 2014 anti-gay law, and, intriguingly, connects the dots of queer persecution and the everyday tragedies that are woven into the fabric of Nigerian life… Moving… Revelatory yet unresolved, simple yet polyphonic, hopeful yet full of heartbreak.”
—New York Times Book Review

“A sublime coming-of-age tale… An extraordinarily composed and deeply felt debut.”
The Guardian

"Magnificent... Complex and generationally driven... Ibeh has the ability to ensure his political positions inform, rather than overwhelm, the intimate dramas at the heart of his fiction. He's vocal about the writers he admires - among them, Buchi Emecheta, Jhumpa Lahiri, Zadie Smith, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - and clearly ambitious. With writing this good, it's to be hoped he'll soon find his name among their ranks."
The Telegraph

“A moving story about truths that can’t be hidden and finding a way to live freely when it’s against the law.”
—USA Today


“Chukwuebuka Ibeh’s writing has a certain delicacy to it, so wonderfully observant, and so beautiful.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Americanah and Purple Hibiscus

Blessings is a stunning and exceptionally moving story of love, shame, redemption and fierce familial bonds. In sublime, evocative prose and from alternating points of view, Ibeh tells the story of Uzoamaka and Obiefuna as mother and son come to transformative realizations about themselves and each other. Ibeh has an elegant and passionate way with language, from the depictions of the Nigerian cultural landscape and its tense reckonings with queerness to the gorgeous mundanities of the protagonists’ home lives and the various dynamics of religion, class, and schoolboyhood. I’m grateful that this beautiful book exists, and I will return to it again and again as if for the first time.”
Francesca Ekwuyasi, author of Butter Honey Pig Bread

Blessings is as raw and heart-wrenching as it is beautiful and delicate. A masterfully executed story about love, faith and sexuality that clenches your heart and doesn’t let go until the very last page. Ibeh is a once in a lifetime talent!”
Elvin James Mensah, author of Small Joys

"A wonderful, vivid debut."
Patrick Gale, author of A Place Called Winter

"A tender, yet powerful story, poetic and wise. Ibeh draws such beautiful characters, and through their eyes, teaches us that love cannot be beaten or threatened from the human heart. From the first chapter, this book won't let you go."
AJ West, author of The Spirit Engineer

“There is music to the way Chukwuebuka Ibeh writes. There is balance. Blessings pulled me into a world I’m extremely unfamiliar with, yet somehow made it comfortable, even resonant. The intimate storytelling, the powerful dialogue, and the well-paced narrative all made it one hell of a heartbreakingly joyous read. Each chapter of this debut novel enthralled me, pushing me to the next, eager to share the road with its unforgettable protagonist right up to the ending, which made me want to start from the beginning again. On top of it all, Ibeh has provided a meaningful representation of queer Nigerians—one that opens borders and breaks barriers. An opportunity for many not only to see what Obiefuna and his mother see, but also to feel what they feel. Run, don’t walk, to get this book.”
Danny Ramadan, author of The Foghorn Echoes

"Wow—what a debut! I was left feeling heartbroken yet hopeful. Chukwuebuka Ibeh is a beautiful writer."
Taylor-Dior Rumble, author of The Situationship

"An excellent debut."
John Boyne, author of The Heart's Invisible Furies

“A spirited, heart-on-its-sleeve debut novel . . . there is a literary blessing in seeing Ibeh's exuberant talent ushered into the world.”
—Star Tribune 

"The LGBTQ community — like every community — is not a monolith, and Blessings is a necessary reminder that the lives and experiences of the individuals within these groups can be drastically different... It’s absolutely stunning; I fell in love with Obiefuna completely." 
—Bustle 

“[G]raceful and poignant.”
—Electric Literature

“Are you ready for a firm whack in the feels? . . . This is a stunning tale of love and loneliness, freedom and politics, and the queer experience from different angles. Enjoy crying so hard your contact lens falls out!!”
—Screen Rant


"There is an unparalleled pleasure in something short and searing. Chukwuebuka Ibeh’s debut is set in modern-day Nigeria, where the country’s criminalisation of same-sex marriage has created a hostile atmosphere for the LGBTQ+ population. After an intimate moment with the family apprentice, Obiefuna is sent to a Christian boarding school by his father. So begins a process of self-discovery. Blessings is told from Obiefuna and his mother’s perspective, a dynamic which has plenty of potential for the profound."
Esquire

“This glittering queer coming-of-age novel is set in Nigeria, just before the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act of 2014 would make queerness officially illegal. The sensitive and creative Obiefuna develops a sweet connection with a boy from a neighboring village, but when his father catches the two of them together, he sends him away to boarding school. There, his fight for survival entails hiding who he really is and trying to navigate random violence. Meanwhile, his mother, Uzoamaka, wonders why her son was sent away since his father won’t say and is left to reckon with long-avoided truths.”
—Book Riot

"A moving debut about love and loneliness."
Sunday Times

"A tender and enraging queer novel...A story about the brutality of Nigerian law, under which homosexuality remains illegal today...This marks the arrival of Chukwuebuka Ibeh as a significant new moral, literary talent."
iNews

"Stark yet tender, balancing passages of hope with episodes of gutplummeting sadness, this is an accomplished novel, distinguished by sensitive prose and taut scene-making."
The Daily Mail

“The coming-of-age queer novel that will pierce your heart.”
—QUEERTY

“Chukwuebuka Ibeh enters the literary world with a searing debut about self, family, and community. . . In the tradition of the great Nigerian writers who
have come before him, such as Buchi Emecheta and Wole Soyinka, Ibeh expresses a quiet, transcendent truth. . . Blessings is gripping, multifaceted, and
poignant.”
—Booklist (starred)

“Chukwuebuka Ibeh’s debut novel is a quiet but profoundly moving coming-of-age story about a young gay man in mid-2000s Nigeria . . . Blessings is an excellent work of queer fiction . . . He offers us a precious glimpse of the world as it truly is for so many queer people: not tragic, not perfect, not all suffering or all joy—but worth living in and telling stories about.”
—BookPage

“Ibeh incisively portrays the family members’ conflicting emotions and strife, and offers a bracing depiction of queer life in Nigeria. Readers won’t want to miss this.”
—Publishers Weekly

"Potent... striking and original. A sensitive, quietly powerful coming-of-age tale."
—Kirkus Reviews


Product Details
ISBN: 9780385550642
ISBN-10: 0385550642
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English