Exclusive: Nnedi Okorafor's middle-grade debut basks readers in contemporary Nigeria
Best-selling fantasy and sci-fi author Nnedi Okorafor will publish her middle-grade debut in 2020, EW can exclusively announce. The book is titled Ikenga, an Africanjujuist novel set in contemporary Nigeria about a boy who can access super powers with the help of the magical Ikenga.
Okorafor ranks among the most acclaimed speculative-fiction authors currently writing. Recipient of the Hugo, the Nebula, the World Fantasy Award, and the Locus Award, she’s received praise from such stalwarts in the genre as Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, and the late Ursula K. Le Guin. The Nigerian-American author has toggled between YA, children’s, and adult fiction to great acclaim, but will reach the MG audience for the first time with Ikenga.
Here’s the official synopsis: “Nnamdi’s father was a good chief of police, perhaps the best Kalaria had ever had. He was determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, most powerful of the criminals, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he wonders what a twelve-year-old boy can do. Until a mysterious nighttime meeting, the gift of a mystical object that enables super powers, and a charge to use those powers for good changes his life forever. How can he fulfill his mission? How will he learn to control his newfound powers?”
“I’m so excited to present this tale of a black boy embracing his power on his own terms in the face of strife,” Okorafor tells EW. “It’s both a universal and specific narrative, full of mysticism and adventure, and it was an absolute joy to write.”
The news comes as Okorafor is in the thick of a number of Hollywood projects. She’s attached to HBO’s adaptation of her novel Who Fears Death, with George R. R. Martin signed on as executive producer, and is also co-writing the screenplay of an adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed.
Ikenga will publish on August 18, 2020. EW can exclusive reveal the cover above.