The Ghanaian writer Kobby Ben Ben’s debut novel No One Dies Yet, set in Accra during 2019, Ghana’s Year of Return, has been acquired by Europa Editions UK and Edizioni E/O. The Bookseller describes the “bold” and “genre-breaking” novel as an “unsettling tale of murder in a country whose dead slaves are shackled with stories that must be heard.” The novel will be published in autumn 2021 in the UK and in spring/summer in the US.
The Year of Return is an initiative of the Ghanaian government, which is “linked to the 400th anniversary of slaves landing in the US,” and “memorialised the many who died during the slave trade in Ghana, particularly at Elmina Castle, while encouraging members of the African diaspora to visit.” In 2019, the Ghanaian government waived visa requirements for tourists and granted citizenship to 126 African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans who wanted to reconnect with their ancestral homeland.
In Kobby Ben Ben’s book, three young African Americans visit Accra to “explore Ghana’s colonial past and its underground queer scene.” From the synopsis:
They are thrust into the hands of two guides, Kobby and Nana, whose intentions aren’t clear, yet they are the narrators we have to trust. Kobby, a modern deviant according to Nana’s traditional and religious principles, offers a more upscale and privileged tour of Ghana and also becomes the friends’ link to Accra’s secret gay culture.
Nana’s adherence to his pastor’s teachings against sin makes him hate Kobby enough to want to kill.
‘No one dies yet,’ Kobby begins, setting the tone of what will become an unsettling tale of murder in a country whose dead slaves are shackled with stories that must be heard.
Kobby Ben Ben lives in Accra. He is a writer and activist. On his Instagram page, @bookworm_man, he curates book-inspired photos and offers his opinions on books and African literary culture.
“When I first came across his Instagram page, I was delighted to discover Kobby’s exquisite taste for fiction around the world,” Eva Ferri said. “I couldn’t put No One Dies Yet down. It’s an extraordinary narrative test: bold, funny and dark.” Christopher Potter added: “We are excited to have acquired this genre-breaking, entirely original novel from a powerful new African voice.”
In a congratulatory post to Kobby Ben Ben, Aida Lilly said, “Kobby was the second client I signed, and he is such a fun person to work with! He is a voracious and discerning reader, and his writing is poetic and stunning. I’m so excited to share this amazing and special book with the world, and I cannot wait to read what he writes next!”
Kobby Ben Ben expressed his happiness about his novel finding a home. “I’ve never read a book from Europa I haven’t adored. My novel, which explores other languages and marginalized cultures, is the kind of niche Europa already has already made a name for. I’m happy to work with Christopher Potter and all of team Europa who have knowledge on publishing diverse stories taking into consideration cultural sensitivities.”