Each year, Ohio University librarians search to find the perfect author for the Libraries’ Authors @Alden event.
So, when editors at the Ohio University Press mentioned Nigerian author Chuma Nwokolo’s newest book that Jeff Kallet, head of sales for the Press, described as an epic story about family and the loss of a community in today’s world, Scott Seaman, dean of the Libraries, thought it would be the perfect choice for the April Authors @Alden.
Nwokolo’s book, “The Extinction of Menai,” although fiction, tells an important story, said Kallet, which is why the Libraries and Press, the scholarly publishing arm of the University, invited Nwokolo to visit Ohio University as part of his first American book tour.
Nwokolo will be interviewed by Ghirmai Negash, professor of English and African Literature in the Department of English and associate director of African Studies Program, as part of this year’s Authors @Alden event, scheduled for April 16 at 5:30 p.m. on the first floor of Alden Library. For the past five years, prominent authors, film makers and poets have visited Alden Library as part of the series.
The book, part of the Press’s Modern African Writing Series, follows the story of twins Humphrey, a London writer, and Zanda, a journalist in Abuja, Nigeria, who were separated at birth. The men are descendants of a fictionalized ethnic group in Nigeria that was subjected to a deadly pharmaceutical trial. Years later, few members of the Menai remain. Along with the struggles of the trial, the brothers realize they have both been living double lives—unbeknown to themselves. Publishers Weekly describes the novel as “a singular portrayal of a threatened culture.”
“[It’s] beautifully written; it’s evocative; it covers important themes,” Gillian Berchowitz, Ohio University Press director and editor-in-chief, said of “The Extinction of Menai.”
Nwokolo, the author of several books and a lawyer who founded the Bribecode good governance campaign in Nigeria, began his United States tour at Yale University. During his time in America, he also plans to visit Wesleyan University, St. Lawrence University, Loyola University New Orleans and Queens College, City University of New York, said Kallet.
Nwokolo’s visit coincides with an Alden Library exhibit titled “Writing Africa: The New Generation of African Writers,” curated by Araba Dawson-Andoh, subject librarian for African Studies and the social sciences. Nwokolo’s book is part of the exhibit.
Berchowitz added she hopes those interested in public health, as well as those interested in African novels and creative writing will attend the event. Light refreshments will be served and a book signing will follow the interview, which will be live-streamed.
“Chuma Nwokolo is an accomplished writer and someone of considerable human experience,” said Berchowitz. “I think the Authors @Alden conversation between him and Professor Negash will provide the audience with a range of insights into the African experience.”