An Unforgettable Debut Novel
“Ile’s story of a family and community dealing with the loss of a missing teenager could become the surprise debut of the year.”
“In haunting, poetic language, Ile crafts a portrayal of a family grappling with the loss of a child. The characters are vivid and well-drawn, full of the inconsistencies and moments of grace that make us human . . . Ile proves himself a master storyteller. Here is a novelist who will undoubtedly become one of the foremost voices in contemporary literature.”
“One rarely finds ‘page-turner’ and ‘poetry’ in the same sentence, but And After Many Days is a rarity indeed. At once calm, collected, lyrical and heartbreaking, Ile’s debut is many things: an achingly tender portrait of family life, a brilliantly executed whodunnit, a searing critique of Nigerian politics, a meditation on love. I couldn’t put it down and was forever changed when I did. The Utu family will stay with me always.”
—Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go
“And After Many Days is a brilliant novel that paints a vivid picture of a changing society, effortlessly shifting between moments and years, all while keeping us grounded in a growing boy’s understanding of himself and the surrounding world. It is a book that offers profound insight into a country that headlines can never capture. A wonderful debut.”
—Uzodinma Iweala, author of Beasts of No Nation
“This engrossing novel, couched in poetic, evocative language, creates a suspenseful yet sophisticated narrative from the first page. Here are beautifully drawn characters grounded in the universal story of young Ajie discovering the world around him—a world recovering from the not-so-distant wars of the previous generations and their legacy, which still bleeds into present politics. A deeply rewarding novel that heralds the birth of a major new literary talent.”
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred
“Set in southern Nigeria, Ile’s debut novel pits the personal against the political in a slow-burning family drama…Ile hits the emotional register of childhood experiences, like the all-or-nothing satisfaction of following older kids in climbing a tree, or the searing heat of school humiliations.”
“Ile vividly evokes life in Nigeria at the end of the twentieth century and the plight of the people who navigate the sweeping changes and startling corruption while trying to go about their daily lives.”
“Jowhor Ile is a rare talent. This rich book is ripe with mood and full of love, masterfully written with the perfect emotional pitch. Nigeria has a new star.”
—Binyavanga Wainaina, author of One Day I Will Write About This Place
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 serve 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.
Jowhor Ile, on the ways his Nigerian upbringing shaped his hunger for reading and books: http://www.readitforward.com/lust-books-apocalypse/.
About the Author
Jowhor Ile was born in 1980 and raised in Nigeria, where he currently lives. His fiction has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly and Litro Magazine.