Home 5 News 5 Nigerian Author’s Debut Novel Sparks Global Interest

Nigerian Author’s Debut Novel Sparks Global Interest

by | Apr 4, 2024 | News

 

Simon & Schuster imprints Summit in the US and Scribner in UK have acquired a first novel by a new Nigerian academic and writer, Nneoma Ike-Njoku.

Entitled The Water House, it follows the journey of a young woman called Celia as she unravels the mystery surrounding her brother’s death in their childhood mansion in 1960s Nigeria.

Scribner Publishing director Sophie Missing acquired UK and Commonwealth rights at auction from Anna Webber at United Agents for publication in spring 2026. North American rights were acquired by Laura Perciasepe at Summit Books from Jim Rutman at Sterling Lord Literistic, on behalf of Anna Webber. German language rights were pre-empted by Sarah Leibl at btb Verlag, through Jane Willis at UA.

Missing said: “The Water House reminded me of a mid-century novel – short, stripped back, stylish – but with a voice and atmosphere that feels entirely fresh and original. I love how it nods to classics like Rebecca, Jane Eyre and The Color Purple, while confounding expectations with wit and panache. Celia might initially bring to mind one of Jean Rhys’s heroines struggling in the city, but she is eminently capable. Nneoma Ike-Njoku is an incredibly exciting new talent and I’m so thrilled that she has chosen Scribner as her UK home.”

Ike-Njoku was born and grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. Her short fiction has appeared in Transition Magazine, The Winter Tangerine Review, The Kalahari Review, and NANO Fiction.  In 2022 The Water House won the DGA First Novel prize, and the novel also won the Betty Trask Award, given to novels of a traditional or romantic nature.

The judges for the DGA First Novel Prize said:  “This is a short but incredibly promising novel with great sense of place, set just before Nigeria’s independence. We admired the storytelling, the writing and the setting of the novel, which follows Celia, a young woman with a haunted past, as she tries to make her way in the world. Written in the first person, Celia’s voice is memorable and insistent, taking us through flashbacks to her time living in the Water House, her time in a borstal for young people, and a new life in Lagos before she feels drawn home in search of answers. We felt the book had real potential, that Nneoma’s writing had a natural, confident style and are delighted to make Nneoma Ike-Njoku the winner of the First Prize in the First Novel Prize.”

Ike-Njoku is on the staff at Cornell University in the US where her research focus is 19th century British novels, American short fiction and African novels in the 21st century.

‘This is a short but incredibly promising novel with great sense of place, set just before Nigeria’s independence. We admired the storytelling, the writing and the setting of the novel, which follows Celia, a young woman with a haunted past, as she tries to make her way in the world. Written in the first person, Celia’s voice is memorable and insistent, taking us through flashbacks to her time living in the Water House, her time in a borstal for young people, and a new life in Lagos before she feels drawn home in search of answers. We felt the book had real potential, that Nneoma’s writing had a natural, confident style and are delighted to make Nneoma Ike-Njoku the winner of the First Prize in the First Novel Prize 2022.’

 

 

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