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Green and White Threads: Nigerian-Canadian Writers

From sea to sea, Canadian communities offer immigrants welcoming inclusive spaces. While I started writing as a preteen, I became a published author after our family moved to Canada 17 years ago. As I look forward to the September publication of my seventh book, A Good Name, I remain thankful for the many opportunities this land bestows on newcomers. 

Writers of Nigerian descent are world-renowned for the breadth and vibrancy of their art. I am proud of this heritage. Therefore, I am honoured to shine a spotlight on the following writers whose works add invaluable green and white threads to the grand tapestry of Canadian literature. 

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Butter Honey Pig Bread, by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Ekwuyasi’s debut novel is a story about choices and their consequences, of motherhood, of the malleable line between the spirit and the mind, of finding new homes and mending old ones, of voracious appetites, of queer love, of friendship, faith, and above all, family.

Longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, this novel is a reader’s treat. I’ve always been a fan of gripping stories centred around women and the intricacies of family relationships. I particularly enjoyed the seamless flow between voices, realms, and desires. 

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The Son of the House, by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia 

Set against four decades of a vibrant Nigeria, Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s debut novel focuses on two Nigerian women. Divided by class and social inequality, their lives intersect when they’re kidnapped, held captive, and forced to await their fate together. Marked with dramatic suspense, The Son of the House keeps you at the edge of your seat. You will find yourself cheering along as you celebrate the resilience and bravery of these women and the countless others who continue to navigate and challenge stifling patriarchal norms. 

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Before I started writing novels, I wrote poetry. I still do. For me, poems are another way of seeing, of being, of relating to the world around me. 

The following poetry collections explore various themes that speak to the specificity and the universality of the human condition. They also discuss migration, diaspora, and home. 

DisPlace: The Poetry of Nduka Otiono, by Nduka Otiono

The poems in this upcoming collection are from Otiono’s two published works, Voices in the Rainbow and Love in a Time of Nightmares. The volume also includes previously unpublished poems.

Using language shaped by an undeniable African lens, Otiono, an academic and cultural activist, explores the personal with powerful elegies that address the displacement and contrariness of belonging to two homes. This selection of poetry also places African intellectual history at the forefront of an engagement with Western poetics. 

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Book Cover Winds of My Sahara

Winds Of My Sahara: A Letter And Free Verse Reflection On Femininity…, by Olunosen Louisa Ibhaze

Ibhaze’s free-verse collection speaks to women’s experiences through the complex eyes of African women. Unapologetic about their intention, these poems take the reader on a journey of desires, secrets, and wisdom, as they explore divinity, femininity, tradition, marriage, love, and intimacy. Ibhaze reminds us that while desert places are sparse and challenging, they also contain oases that refresh and nourish our being. 

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Teardrops on the Weser, by Amatoritsero Ede

The finely crafted poems in Ede’s 2021 collection offer a soothing, almost hypnotic reader experience. Teardrops on the Weser alludes to the geographical river that runs through northwestern Germany. Ede also draws on rivers in his native Nigeria to contemplate questions about home and belonging. Evocative and luminous, this is a poetry collection one re-experiences.

Aside from novels and poetry, Nigerian-Canadian writers write picture books, and short fiction.

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Book Cover What's the Worst That Could Happen

What’s the Worst that Could Happen?, by Yewande Daniel-Ayoade

This heartwarming picture book explores living with social anxiety from a child’s perspective. The main character, Kayla, could only imagine the worst-case scenarios as she tried to make friends at her new school.

As a therapist in children’s mental health, I see how anxiety adversely impacts functioning. As someone who also writes for children, I believe children should see themselves in the content they consume. Representation truly matters. Beautifully illustrated, the story offers encouragement and motivation, which are undoubtedly important in these challenging times.

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Book Cover Double Wahala, Double Trouble

Double Wahala, Double Trouble, by Uchechukwu Peter Umezurike

In this scintillating short story collection, Umezurike lures the reader into a journey of the absurd and the grisly to show us men and women struggling to live, desire, love, and thrive against the eddy of troubles in their world. 

An award-winning poet, Umezurike weaves his stories with lyrical prose. Even when the worlds these well-rounded characters inhabit are unfamiliar, one develops an understanding that they are trying to make meaning of life in extenuating circumstances, just like some of us are. 

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Learn more about Yejide Kilanko's A Good Name:

Twelve years in America and Eziafa Okereke has nothing to show for it. Desperate to re-write his story, Eziafa returns to Nigeria to find a woman he can mold to his taste. Eighteen-year-old Zina has big dreams. An arranged marriage to a much older man isn't one of them. Trapped by family expectations, Zina marries Eziafa, moves to Houston, and trains as a nurse. Buffeted by a series of disillusions, the couple stagger through a turbulent marriage until Zina decides to change the rules of engagement.

September 9, 2021
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