New Releases for 2016

by - 10:11

With only 5 weeks to go until 2015 ends (where did the year go?) I'm looking forward to 2016, and the books to be excited about. First, congratulations to Cassava Republic who will be launching in the UK in April 2016. According to The Bookseller, Cassava's list includes: 

Image via Cassava Republic's
Facebook page
'Elnathan John's "breathtakingly beautiful" Born on a Tuesday, which tackles unexplored aspects of  friendship, love, trauma and politics in recent northern Nigerian history, Sarah Ladipo Manyika's "mesmerising" Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, a subtle story about ageing, friendship and loss and the erotic yearnings of an older woman, along with the "pulsating" crime novels Easy Motion Tourist by Leye Adenle and The Lazarus Effect by H.J. Golokai. The list also features Abubakar Adam Ibrahim's Season of Crimson Blossoms - a "controversial and gripping story" of an affair between a devoted Muslim grandmother and a 25-year-old drug dealer and political thug.'

I'll be sharing more details on these books (like if Born on a Tuesday and Season of Crimson Blossoms have different covers for the UK edition than the Nigerian ones) the more I find out.

Also, while at the Ake Festival (a post on my experience will be up soon - I'm still trying to recover from all the awesomeness) we heard about a lot of forthcoming releases from authors. Helon Habila read an excerpt from a yet to be finished book which will be set in Berlin and features a novelist and his painter wife; Maaza Mengiste is also currently working on a second novel, as is Vamba Sheriff, and Chris Abani - whose next novel is set in Maiduguri. Cassava Republic is also putting together a collection of queer fiction from lesbian and bisexual women (if I remember correctly). 

Finally, MaThoko's Books has sent out a call for submissions for Queer Africa II - the follow-up of its award winning anthology, Queer Africa: New and Collected Fiction, and Teju Cole's collection of essays on art, literature, photography, and politics, Known and Strange Things, published by Random House and Faber & Faber will also be out in Autumn 2016. There's already so much to look forward to, but until then, here are 13 more new releases  in 2016.

*Post has been updated with Jowhor Ile's debut novel, which I was made aware thanks to a lovely reader of the blog. Thanks! As well as Helen Oyeyemi's short story collection, Chris Abani's memoir, and Sofia Somatar and Nick Wood's new novels.

Ahlem Mosteghanemi's The Dust of Promises (January 14 2016)
The final novel in the international bestselling trilogy from 'literary phenomenon' (Elle) Ahlem Mosteghanemi, The Dust of Promises, is a haunting, elegiac story of love, memory and betrayal - and of what it means to come home. 

Still heartsick over the break-up of his relationship with the alluring, elusive novelist Hayat, the narrator of The Dust of Promises finds himself adrift in Paris, where he has come to receive a photography award. His photograph of a traumatised war-orphan has been declared profoundly affecting by the judges, but he knows that no picture can ever fully capture the desolation and destruction he has witnessed in his Algerian homeland. When he stumbles into an art exhibition on one of the capital's side streets, he is struck by the power of the paintings and feels impelled to learn more about the artist – an Algerian exile whose painful longing for the country he has lost shines out of his work. The artist is none other than Khaled, the man who haunted the pages of Hayat's first novel, just as the narrator was inextricably entangled in her second. As the two men embark on a tentative friendship, a twist of fate brings Hayat herself to France, where the destinies of all of them will once again collide.

Spanning more than half a century of Algeria's tumultuous recent history, this is a poignant tale of secret lovers brought together and pulled apart as they navigate Algeria's changing political landscape from the heady, bright peaks of independence to the dark depths of corruption and disillusionments this is a sweeping epic and an arresting ode to a once great country. 

Jowhor Ile's And After Many Days (February 16 2016)
Published by Tim Duggan Books, And After Many Days is an unforgettable debut novel about a boy who goes missing, a family that is torn apart, and a nation on the brink. 

During the rainy season of 1995, in the bustling town of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, one family's life is disrupted by the sudden disappearance of seventeen-year-old Paul Utu, beloved brother and son. As they grapple with the sudden loss of their darling boy, they embark on a painful and moving journey of immense power which changes their lives forever and shatters the fragile ecosystem of their once ordered family. Ajie, the youngest sibling, is burdened with the guilt of having seen Paul last and convinced that his vanished brother was betrayed long ago. But his search for the truth uncovers hidden family secrets and reawakens old, long forgotten ghosts as rumours of police brutality, oil shortages, and frenzied student protests serves as a backdrop to his pursuit. 

In a tale that moves seamlessly back and forth through time, Ajie relives a trip to the family's ancestral village where, together, he and his family listen to the myths of how their people settled there, while the villagers argue over the mysterious Company, who found oil on their land and will do anything to guarantee support. As the story builds towards its stunning conclusion, it becomes clear that only once past and present come to a crossroads will Ajie and his family finally find the answers they have been searching for. 
And After Many Days introduces Ile's spellbinding ability to tightly weave together personal and political loss until, inevitably, the two threads become nearly indistinguishable. It is a masterful story of childhood, of the delicate, complex balance between the powerful and the powerless, and a searing portrait of a community as the old order gives way to the new.  

Chris Abani's The Face: Cartography of the Void (1 March 2016)
In The Face: Cartography of the Void, acclaimed poet, novelist and screenwriter Chris Abani has given us a brief memoir that is, in the best tradition of the genre, also an exploration of the very nature of identity. Abani meditates on his own face, beginning with his early childhood that was immersed in the Igbo culture of West Africa. The Face is a lush work of art that teems with original and profound insights into the role of race, culture and language in fashioning our sense of self. Abani's writing is poetic, filled with stories, jokes and reflections that draw readers into his fold:he invited them to explore their own "faces" and the experiences that have shaped them.

The Face is a gift to be read, re-read, shared and treasured, from an author at the height of his artistic powers. Abani directs his gaze both in ward and out toward the world around him, creating a self-portrait in which readers will also see their own faces reflected. 

Abani's essay is part of groundbreaking new series from Restless Books called The Face, in which a diverse group of writers takes readers on a guided tour of that most intimate terrain: their own faces. 

Helen Oyeyemi's What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (8 March 2016)

Published by Riverhead Books, the stories in What Is Not Yours are linked by more than the exquisitely winding prose of their creator: Helen Oyeyemi's ensemble cast of characters slip from the pages of their own stories only to surface in another.

The reader is invited into a world of lost libraries and locked garden, of marshlands where the drowned dead live and a city where all the clocks have stopped, students hone their skills at puppet school, the Homely Wench Society commits a guerilla book swap, and lovers exchange books and roses on St Jordi's Day. 

It is a collection of towering imagination, marked by baroque beauty and a deep sensuousness

Sofia Somatar's The Winged Histories  (March 15 2016)

Published by Small Beer Press, The Winged Histories is the much-anticipated companion novel to Sofia Samatar's World Fantasy Award-winning debut, A Stranger in Olondria. Four women - a soldier, a scholar, a poet and a socialite - are caught up on opposing sides of a violent rebellion. As war erupts and their loyalties and agendas and ideologies come to conflict, the four fear their lives may pass unrecorded. Using the sword and the pen, the body and the voice, they struggle not just to survive, but to make history. 

The Winged Histories is a saga of an empire - and a family: their friendships, their enduring love, their arcane and deadly secrets. Samatar asks who makes history, who endures it, and how the turbulence of historical change sweeps over every aspect of life and over everyone, no matter whether or not they choose to seek it out.

Short Story Day Africa's Water: New Short Fiction from Africa  (March 17 2016)

SSDA's third anthology collection, edited by Nick Mulgrew and Karina Szczurek, aims to break the one-dimensional view of African storytelling and fiction writing. The stories in this anthology explore true and alternative African culture through a competition on the theme of Water. The winner of the SSDA prize for Short Fiction, South African author Cat Hellisen, with her winning story The Worme Bridge, was announced at the Ake Arts & Book Festival. 

The winning story, along with the rest of the 2015 longlist (which comprised of 21 short stories) will be in Water: New Short Fiction from Africa. The collection features a number of Caine Prize-winning and nominated authors including Efemia Chela and Pede Hollist, as well as a host of exciting emerging writers and established favourites from throughout the African continent and diaspora.

Nick Wood's Azanian Bridges (April 11 2016) 

In a modern day South Africa where Apartheid still holds sway, Sibusiso Mchunu, a young amaZulu man, finds himself the unwitting focus of momentous events when he falls foul of the system and comes into possession of a secret that may just offer hope to his entire people. Pursued by the ANC on one side and Special Branch agents on the other, Sibusiso has little choice but to run.

Azanian Bridges is a truly ground-breaking from Nick Wood. This, his debut (adult) novel, is a socially acute fast-paced thriller that propels the reader into a world of intrigue and threat, leading to possibilities that examine the conscience of a nation.

Ibrahim Essa's The Televangelist - translated by Jonathan Wright (April 30 2016)
Published by Hoopoe (a new imprint of the American University in Cairo Press), and shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, meet Hatem el-Shenawi, a Muslim TV preacher who has won fame and fortune through his show delivering Islam to the masses. 

Affable, sharp-witted, and well-connected to the government and business elite of Cairo, Shenawi seems at the top of his game. But when he is entrusted with a dangerous secret, one that could tip the whole country into chaos, the double-edged sword of his celebrity threatens him with scandal and ruin as he is drawn deeper into political intrigue and the dark underbelly of the state. 

Fast-paced and brilliantly observed, The Televangelist, takes us on a journey into the corrupt nexus of power, money, media, and religious performance that has dominated Egypt in recent years. 

Yewande Omotoso's The Woman Next Door (May 5 2016)
Published by Chatto & Windus, two wickedly funny old women show us it's never too late to find friendship. Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbours. One is black, one white. Both are successful women with impressive careers. Both have recently been widowed. And both are sworn enemies, sharing hedge and hatred and pruning both with a vim and zeal that belies the fact that they are both over eighty. But one day an unforeseen event forces the women together. And gradually the sniping and bickering softens into lively debate, and fromthere into memories shared. The big question is whether these glimpses of common ground could ever transforminto a (rather spiky) formof friendship. Or is it far too late for these two ever to change their spots? 

Youssef Fadel's A Rare Blue Bird Flies With Me - translated by Jonathan Smolin (May 30 2016)
First published in Arabic in 2013 and shortlisted for the International Prize for Arab Fiction, Hoopoe brings us the English translation. It's spring 1990 in a dingy small-town Moroccan bar. Zina is serving drinks when a mysterious man approaches her. The man gives Zina a handwritten note from her husband, Aziz, who disappeared the day after their wedding, eighteen years ago, after participating in the failed 1972 coup against King Hassan II. Zina has spent the past eighteen years searching for Azia, who has been imprisoned in inhuman conditions in a solitary cell inside a secret desert jail. Will Zina finally find Aziz? Moving back and forth between 1990 and the past, A Rare Blue Bird That Flies With Me recounts the painful circumstances that brought Zina and Aziz together and the torture after the 1972 coup that tore them apart. Told from the perspective of several narrators - including Zina, Aziz, Aziz's two tailors - Youssef Fadel's novel is a masterful history of modern Morocco.

Parker Bilal's City of Jackals: A Makana Mystery (June 7 2016)
Published by Bloomsbury USA, this is the fifth thriller in this 'excellent', 'must-read' series, featuring  'the perfect 21st-century detective', Makana. Mourad Hafiz appears to have dropped out of university and disappeared. Engaged by his family to try and find him, Makana comes to believe that the Hafiz boy became involved in some kind of political activity just prior to his disappearance. But before he can discover more, the investigation is sidetracked: a severed head turns up on the riverbank next to his home, and Makana finds himself drawn into ethnic rivalry and gang war among young men from South Sudan. The trail leads from a church in the slums and the benevolent work of the large-than-life Rev. Preston Corbis and sister Liz to the enigmatic Ihsan Qaddus and the Hesira Institute. 

The fifth installment of this acclaimed series is set in Egypt in December 2005. While Cairo is tor by the protests by South Sudanese refugees demanding their rights, President Mubarak has just been re-elected by a dubious 88 per cent majority in the country's first multi-party elections. In response to what appears to be flagrant election-rigging, there are early stirrings of organised political opposition to the regime. Change is afoot and Makana is in danger of being swept away in the seismic shifts of his adopted nation. 

Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing (June 7 2016)
Published by Penguin Random House, this is a riveting, kaleidoscopic debut novel about race, history, ancestry, love, and time that traces the descendants of two sisters torn apart in eighteenth-century Africa across three hundred years in Ghana and America.

Two half sisters, Effa and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into different tribal villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effa is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising half-caste children who will be sent abroad to be educated before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle's women's dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery. Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and the Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the American South to the Great Migration to twentieth-century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi's novel moves through histories and geographies and captures - with outstanding economy and force - the troubled spirit of our own nation. She has written a modern masterpiece.

Imbolo Mbue's Behold the Dreamers (August 23 2016)
Published by Penguin Random House, this is a debut novel about an immigrant couple striving to get ahead as the Great Recession hits home. With profound empathy, keen insight, and sly wit, Imbolo Mbue has written a compulsively readable story about marriage, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream. 

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Borthers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty - and Jende is eager to please. Clark's wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at their summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future. 

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers' facades. 

Then the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Desperate to keep Jende's job, which grows more tenuous by the day, the Jongas try to protect the Edwardses from certain truths, even as their own marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

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