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HarperCollins UK imprint the Borough Press is putting together a collection of new non-fiction that explores Nigeria. It includes contributions from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Chigozie Obioma, author of The Fisherman and An Orchestra of Minorities, both of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize, as well as Helon Habila, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀,, Helon Habila, Bolu Babalola, Nels Abbey, Caleb Femi and Lola Shoneyin, who runs the Aké Arts and Book Festival in Lagos, Nigeria.
Africa and African writers continue to be of interest to British publishers as they seek to address issues of diversity and make their lists reflect the society in which they sit.
The project is being overseen by editor Ore Agbaje-Williams and Nancy Odimora, HaperCollins’ talent and audience development manager. The publisher is also seeking an unpublished and un-agented Nigerian writer of any age, based anywhere in the world, to submit a personal essay about the Nigeria they know and have experienced, whether that be the people, the culture or the place itself.
The book will be entitled Of This Our Country, to reflect the myriad voices that make up Nigeria, from Afrobeats, Nollywood and the nation’s 500-plus languages, as well as all the different memories and perspectives that make up modern Nigeria. The publisher says contributors will share ‘personal stories of the Nigeria they know and the Nigeria they hope for’.
It will be published on 30 September 2021, the day before Nigerian Independence Day and the eve of Black History Month in the UK.
Agbaje-Williams said: “It’s not possible to capture everything about Nigeria in one book, but seeing it through the eyes of some of the phenomenal writers it has produced brings us close. As a reader I have long admired and read the authors in this collection; and as a Nigerian I’m incredibly proud to work with Nancy, a fellow Nigerian, and publish a book about our home country. To be able to bring those two things together in Of This Our Country is more than a dream come true, it’s extraordinary, and I’m incredibly excited for readers the world over to read it.”
Adimora added: “I remember the moment Ore and I started talking about this idea, and it’s been a joy to watch it grow and take on a life of its own. Of This Our Country not only features authors I truly admire, but it is a vital contribution to national conversations and attests to the centrality of storytellers in any society. Working with Ore and the wider team has been an opportunity to explore what’s possible in publishing. I’m proud to be working on a collection that is so close to home and, as a reader and as a Nigerian, I can’t wait for it to hit bookshelves everywhere.”