A searing, unflinching collection of stories set in Nigeria that explores themes of community expectations, familial strife, and the struggle for survival.
Set in contemporary Nigeria, Uche Okonkwo’s A Kind of Madness is a collection of ten stories concerned with literal madness but also those private feelings that, when left unspoken, can feel like a type of madness: desire, desperation, hunger, fear, sadness, shame, longing. In these stories, a young woman and her mother bask in the envy of their neighbors when the woman receives an offer of marriage from the family of a doctor living in Belgium—though when the offer fails to materialize, that envy threatens to turn vicious, pitting them both against their village. A teenage girl from a poor family is dazzled by her rich, vivacious friend, but as the friend’s behavior grows unstable and dangerous, she must decide whether to cover for her or risk telling the truth to get her the help she needs. And a lonely daughter finds herself wandering a village in eastern Nigeria in an ill-fated quest, struggling to come to terms with her mother’s mental illness.
In vivid, evocative prose, A Kind of Madness unravels the tensions between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, best friends, siblings, and more, marking the arrival of an extraordinary new talent in fiction and inviting us all to consider the question: why is it that the people and places we hold closest are so often the ones that drive us to madness?
About the Author
Uche Okonkwo’s stories have been published in A Public Space, One Story, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares,The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2019, and Lagos Noir, among others. A former Bernard O’Keefe Scholar at Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and resident at Art Omi, she is a recipient of the George Bennett Fellowship at Phillips Exeter Academy and a Steinbeck Fellowship. Okonkwo grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, and is currently pursuing a creative writing PhD at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Uche Okonkwo's A Kind of Madness is full of vivid, unforgettable characters and rare insight. This is a book that pulls you in, with its fierce undertow, and once you start reading, you won't want to stop. Okonkwo is one of the most exciting young writers working today, and these stories are brilliant.
— Elliott Holt, author of You Are One of Them
To read Uche Okonkwo’s A Kind of Madness is to have an experience: of complex characters grappling with life’s many troubles, of a robust culture, of history, of the battle between the domestic and the public, and all the big themes of life woven together. Like Jhumpa Lahiri, Okonkwo’s mastery of the form is as rich as some of the short story’s best practitioners and deserves every recognition it is sure to get.
— Chigozie Obioma, author of An Orchestra of Minorities
Hilarious and heartbreaking. . . . A delightful debut. — Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, author of A Girl is a Body of Water