Scribner is to publish Obioma Ugoala's The Problem with My Normal Penis, after prevailing in an eight-way auction.
Chris White, editorial director at the Simon & Schuster imprint, acquired world rights for a six-figure sum from Hellie Ogden at Janklow & Nesbit UK.
The book synopsis states: "The Problem With My Normal Penis is a candidly personal, ground-breaking examination of race and masculinity in contemporary society. It tells how, as a black man growing up in London, Obioma was overtly sexualised from a young age and how he has had to carry the baggage of other people’s prejudices throughout his life. Through his honest – sometimes shocking – appraisal of his experiences in the classroom, the bedroom, the locker room and the rehearsal room, he confronts the myths that give rise to such prejudices and, in so doing, posits a path to a more enlightened future where we will begin to see others and ourselves in our entirety and in our individuality. Black masculinity is multi-faceted and complex and messy and beautiful – there is no right or wrong way to be a black man."
White said: "I read this proposal in awe of Obioma’s courage, honesty and profound understanding of the subject. Frankly, it made me challenge my own thinking and consider the deeply ingrained preconceptions we all absorbed growing up in the 90s and 00s. I was mesmerised by Obioma’s writing.
"He is a natural storyteller and is able, seemingly effortlessly, to draw on influences ranging from Baldwin to Kanye West via William Edward Burghardt Du Bois. What clinched it for me, though, was the optimistic intent and positive message contained within the book. Without a hint of sentimentality or any suggestion of simple solutions, he argues that by facing up to the centuries-old constructs that colour our thinking on race and masculinity we may begin to create a new narrative. One that allows everybody, regardless of race or gender, to be ‘normal’ in their own, unique fashion."
Ugoala is an actor, writer and workshop facilitator in schools and institutions, focusing on how organisations can move from token diversity to becoming active anti-racist institutions.
He said: "The desire to write this book is born of frustration and hope. For far too long narratives about black masculinity and what it means to be a black man have been stifled by a societal awkwardness around discussions of race and sex. However, I feel the desire to challenge old stereotypes and start new conversations is only growing. In Chris White and his team at Scribner, I am excited to have a collaboration with a team who recognise the importance and urgency of this issue and the bravery to rise to the one of the foremost challenges of our times."
The book will be published in hardback in in early 2022.