The Kenyan writer and editor Troy Onyango’s debut short story collection For What Are Butterflies without Their Wings has been acquired by the Nigerian press Masobe Books. It is scheduled for publication in 2022.
Onyango, who announced the news in a tweet, is the founder and editor-in-chief of Lolwe, a pan-African online literary magazine. In June, he was shortlisted for the 2021 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, for his short story “This Little Light of Mine,” in Doek!. The story will appear in the collection.
Onyango told Open Country Mag that he wrote the book’s 14 stories over a period of six years. “The stories, through the diverse cast of characters, are an exploration of loss, grief, desire/longing, loneliness and sexuality,” he said. “They deal with varied subjects and portray the complexities of being human in our contemporary world.”
The title story won the inaugural Nyanza Literary Festival Prize in 2016. Other stories include “The Transfiguration,” published in Transition in 2016, and “The Match,” shortlisted for the Short Story Day Africa Prize.
“I have been following the work that Masobe Books have been doing since they burst into the scene a few years ago,” Onyango said. “They are very innovative about the way they do certain things within publishing. So when [founder] Othuke approached me last year, I was already looking into them.”
He is currently working on a novel, and, although his deal is only for his short story collection, he is open to working with Masobe Books to publish it.
A graduate of the University of Nairobi, Onyango completed his MA in Creative Writing with distinction from the University of East Anglia, where he was a recipient of the Miles Morland Foundation Scholarship. Presently, he is studying for an MA in African Studies at SOAS University of London.
“I am excited to see that this body of work will finally be out in the world,” Onyango said. “I want people to read the stories and see themselves in the work, to reflect on the joys and sorrows, and to inhabit the worlds that these characters, some of whom mirror real-life people, exist in.”