Scribner scoops Odafen's 'powerful' debut novel

Scribner scoops Odafen's 'powerful' debut novel

Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner is to publish debut writer Aiwanose Odafen's feminist novel Tomorrow I Become a Woman as part of a three-book deal. 

S&S UK pre-empted three novels from Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown, with the first slated for publication under the Scribner imprint in spring 2022. Editor Kaiya Shang acquired UK and Commonwealth rights including audio to all three books for an undisclosed, six-figure sum. This deal marks her first acquisition at the company.

Commenting on the novel, Shang said: "Tomorrow I Become a Woman has everything I hope to find in a book and I feel honoured that this is my first acquisition. Aiwa’s debut is a feminist novel, but with a lightness of touch that educates the reader and is all the more powerful for it. Equally, the political backdrop provides a fascinating insight into recent Nigerian history and made me want to learn more.

"There is an obvious comparison to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, but Aiwa has a voice all of her own. Her writing is deeply moving and flows effortlessly as the women contained in her pages are brought to life with such complexity and subtly: you cannot help but laugh, cry and hope with them. I felt like I knew each character intimately and wanted their stories to continue so I am thrilled we will be following future and past generations in two subsequent novels."

The novel is loosely based on the experiences and lives of real women, and "explores a complex relationship between mother and daughter as well a woman’s struggle to meet societal and cultural expectations within the confines of a difficult marriage. It is also a love story that spans two decades and continents," according to the synopsis. 

Odafen has contributed to published non-fiction works and participated in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus Trust Writing Workshop. She was longlisted for the 2020 Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize. She holds a postgraduate degree from the University of Oxford and works with the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

She said: "I couldn’t be more excited to be working with Kaiya and the team at Scribner; I'm delighted by their vision for the book. Tomorrow I Become a Woman is about womanhood, a journey with no defined destination. It’s about love, friendship and strength. My hope is that others see themselves or someone they know on these pages."

Tomorrow I Become a Woman will be published by Scribner in hardback, e-book and audio in spring 2022, with an as yet untitled second novel due to appear in 2023.