Umar Turaki’s Pre-Publication Book Launch

The Nigerian novelist’s debut Such a Beautiful Thing to Behold is forthcoming on May 1, from Little A.
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Umar Turaki's debut novel, Such a Beautiful Thing to Behold.

Umar Turaki's debut novel, Such a Beautiful Thing to Behold.

Ahead of the release of his debut novel Such a Beautiful Thing to Behold, the Nigerian writer Umar Turaki has held a small launch at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, where he is studying. The event was organized by the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies.

Around this time last year, the novelist signed a two-book deal with Little A, an imprint of Amazon Publishing.

Back then, he told OPEN COUNTRY MAG, “It’s a story about love, family, survival, and how the small, mundane things begin to matter when we are faced with certain situations. Like this ongoing pandemic. We are losing our capacity for wonder and gratitude, and I wanted to write a book that seeks to find wonder in the least likely of places.”

Umar Turaki's book launch photos by Shauna Oddleifson (1)
Photo by Shauna Oddleifson.

The novel has been described as “an allegorical tale in the vein of Station Eleven, in which a small community is cut off from the world after a mysterious illness leaves only children behind.” It appeared on our list of the Most Anticipated Books of 2022 and is forthcoming on May 1.

After the April 14 pre-publication launch, he told us, “It was quite meaningful to me because this book has been a long time in the making, even when I didn’t know I was creating a book. It first started as a short story in 2011 or so. So to see it physically exist, and to have my family with me at that launch, along with friends and colleagues, in a new city where eight months ago we didn’t know anybody—it was very special. I am incredibly grateful for these blessings in my life.”

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In 2016, for a literary series on Olisa.tv, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie selected and edited his short story “Her.” “There is a striking integrity in Umar Turaki’s story-telling—and in Umar himself, by the way,” Adichie wrote. “I loved this beautiful recollection of childhood, the loss and yearning, the restraint that never descends to coyness, the honesty and humanity. It was an utter pleasure to read and edit. I hope it finds the many readers it deserves.”

Umar Turaki's book launch photos by Shauna Oddleifson (1)
Photo by Shauna Oddleifson.
Umar Turaki's book launch photos by Shauna Oddleifson (1)
Photo by Shauna Oddleifson.
Umar Turaki's book launch photos by Shauna Oddleifson (1)
Photo by Shauna Oddleifson.
Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young, a writer, culture journalist, curator, and media consultant, is the founder and editor of Open Country Mag. He was editor of Folio Nigeria, CNN’s exclusive media affiliate in Africa, and has led or joined editorial teams at a host of platforms and projects in African literature. He has written about the Nigerian culture scene, covering innovation in over 20 fields including art, music, tech, sports, cuisine, fashion, journalism, sculpture, beauty, health, and activism. In literature, his Profile subjects have included Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Teju Cole, Damon Galgut, Tsitsi Dangarembga, and Maaza Mengiste. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He sat on the judging panel of The Morland Scholarship, a British grant for African writers, and currently chairs the panel of The Gerald Kraak Prize, a South African initiative for storytelling about gender, sexuality, and social justice. He has an MA in African Studies and a BA in English and History from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. He is currently studying for an MFA at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. In 2019, he received the inaugural The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature. In 2020, he was named among “The 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians” by Avance Media. Twitter & Instagram: @otosirieze. Website: otosirieze.com.

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