Lizzie Damilola Blackburn’s new book started as a short story on a blog she ran in a bid to create more Christians in mainstream fiction. She decided to turn it into a novel when an author at a blogging workshop expressed liking for the character of Yinka.
Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? is the British Nigerian writer’s debut, a novel that is both a love story and an exploration of colourism, culture, religion, and womanhood. It follows Yinka, a 30-something a British Nigerian woman living in South London. Although she is successful, her family constantly asks about her love life. Armed with a spreadsheet, she sets out to find a date for her cousin’s wedding, with help from her best friend.
The novel was one of two pre-empted by Viking Books in 2020. Editor Katy Loftus, who acquired the UK and Commonwealth rights, called Blackburn a “born writer” and praised the novel as “era-defining.” Kirkus Reviews called it a “sassy, spirited story” and Booklist described it as “a laugh-out-loud story of self-discovery, set against the world of contemporary dating.” It will be released through Pamela Dorman Books in March 2022.
Despite the novel being lauded as a subversive take on the romcom genre, the pressure Yinka struggles with in the book is one that is familiar to Blackburn and many African women. Like her protagonist, they have also been asked the question in the title of the book several times.
“Many of my black friends experience the same challenges that Yinka faces and have been longing to read a story like hers,” she told The Bookseller in 2020. “Therefore, this book is a tribute and a gift to them and many others who do not feel represented in the books they read.”
Lizzie Damilola Blackburn won the 2019 Literary Consultancy Pen Factor Writing Competition—with a draft of Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?. She currently lives in Milton Keynes, England, with her husband.
The author took to Twitter to announce the release of the book last Tuesday. “My mission as an author is to help black women be seen and heard,” she wrote.