A new novel from the winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa.
At thirty-nine, Deola Bello, a Nigerian expatriate in London, is dissatisfied with being single and working overseas. Deola works as a financial reviewer for an international charity, and when her job takes her back to Nigeria in time for her father's five-year memorial service, she finds herself turning her scrutiny inward. In Nigeria, Deola encounters changes in her family and in the urban landscape of her home, and new acquaintances who offer unexpected possibilities. Deola's journey is as much about evading others' expectations to get to the heart of her frustration as it is about exposing the differences between foreign images of Africa and the realities of contemporary Nigerian life. Deola's urgent, incisive voice captivates and guides us through the intricate layers and vivid scenes of a life lived across continents. With Sefi Atta's characteristic boldness and vision, A Bit of Difference limns the complexities of our contemporary world. This is a novel not to be missed.
A Bit of Difference is, for me, just as its title articulates – a study of the subtle but vital differences between people, cultures, circumstances and even moments in time. One small shift changes everything. And while the details may be dissimilar, the consequences of these kinds of change are universally the same. (Reviewed by Tamara Smith).
Starred Review. Wholly believable, especially in its nuanced approach to racial identity, the story feels extremely modern while excelling at the novelist's traditional task: finding the common reality between strangers and rendering alien circumstances familiar.
Chika Unigwe, author of On Black Sisters Street
Atta's splendid writing sizzles with wit and compassion. This is an immensely absorbing book.
Nii Parkes, author of Tail of the Blue Bird
An up-close portrait of middle-class Nigeria exploring the boundaries of morals and public decorum. Pitched between humor and despair, with stripped-down, evocative prose, A Bit of Difference bristles with penknife-sharp dialogue, but its truths are more subtle, hiding in the unspoken. Ultimately, A Bit of Difference explores - with a hint of mischief - the problem of how to look like you have no problems when you have abundant problems-the universal problem of the socially-motivated classes.
Nigeria is a country fertile with writers, full of wonderful literary figures like Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, and Ben Okri. But then there was a quieter spell, a time of especially intense corruption and dictatorship, when Sani Abacha was in power, and the literary scene seemed to fade. But stories never fully disappear, and the need to tell them only grows stronger during repressive times. New writers have slowly emerged and now - both in Nigeria and overseas - Nigerian literature is vibrant, brilliant and on the rise.
These new authors - quite a few of them expatriates - are focusing more on personal politics and the quest for self-identity. The expats were born in Nigeria, and live and work abroad, but have an intense connection to their place of origin. The city of Lagos, rich in history and with a population of 21 million, the largest in Africa, inspires many of these writers.
Weaving Korean folklore within a modern narrative of immigration and identity, Forgotten Country is a fierce exploration of the inevitability of loss, the conflict between obligation and freedom, and a family struggling to find its way out of silence and back to one another.
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