The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Department of English are celebrating the release of Chigozie Obioma’s new novel with a special event.
“An Orchestra of Minorities: An evening with Chigozie Obioma and Kwame Dawes” is slated for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 8 in the Johnny Carson Theatre, 11th and Q streets.
Obioma will begin with a brief reading from the novel, “An Orchestra of Minorities.” The reading will be followed by a conversation between Obioma, assistant professor of English, and Dawes, Chancellor’s Professor and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner, about the novel, contemporary African literature and world literature.
A book signing and reception will follow in the Lied Commons.
“An Orchestra of Minorities” will be published by Little, Brown Jan. 3. It is Obioma’s second novel, following “The Fishermen,” which garnered much praise and several awards, including being chosen as a finalist for the Man Booker Prize in 2015.
Set on the outskirts of Umuahia, Nigeria, and narrated by a chi, or guardian spirit, “An Orchestra of Minorities” tells the story of Chinonso, a young poultry farmer who witnesses a woman attempting to jump from a highway bridge. Horrified by her recklessness, Chinonso joins her on the roadside and hurls two of his prized chickens into the water below to express the severity of such a fall. The woman, Ndali, is stopped in her tracks.
Bonded by this night on the bridge, Chinonso and Ndali fall in love. But Ndali is from a wealthy family and struggles to imagine a future near a chicken coop. When her family objects to the union because he is uneducated, Chinonso sells most of his possessions to attend a college in Cyprus. But when he arrives, he finds himself getting further and further from his dream, from Ndali and the farm he called home.
Spanning continents, traversing the earth and cosmic spaces, and told by a narrator who has lived for hundreds of years, the novel is a contemporary twist of Homer’s “Odyssey.” It is written in the mythic style of the Igbo literary tradition and weaves a heart-wrenching epic about destiny and determination.