Chinelo Okparanta’s next novel, titled Harry Sylvester Bird, will arrive in spring 2022. The story, centered on a conservative White American man, is a major departure for the acclaimed Nigerian novelist and Bucknell University creative writing professor, who rose to prominence as one of the country’s most essential fiction writers for her stories about its queer women.
Harry Sylvester Bird is the first in a two-book deal with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the publisher of her 2015 debut novel Under the Udala Trees and her 2013 story collection Happiness, Like Water, both of which won Lambda Award for Best Lesbian Fiction and secured her a spot on Granta’s “Best of Young American Novelists” list in 2017.
Publishers Marketplace describes the novel as being “about a young white man’s education and miseducation in contemporary America—from his conservative upbringing in rural Pennsylvania to his various awakenings in New York City where he attempts to confront his privilege—exploring the nation’s state of confusion around white supremacy and delving into the most pressing anxieties of our time.”
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt editor Pilar Garcia-Brown acquired the rights from Okparanta’s agent Jacqueline Ko of The Wylie Agency. The editor called the book “original, sharp, funny, and unflinching.”
Okparanta told OPEN COUNTRY MAG: “I’m thrilled to be publishing this new novel, which, like Under the Udala Trees, will be delicious and discussionable in the best ways possible!”
Sharing the news on Instagram, she added: “And, let’s just say there will be even more after those.”
Harry Sylvester Bird will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2022.