William Collins has signed a “deeply poignant and personal” investigation into the Nigerian Civil War by Emmanuel Iduma.
Grace Pengelly, assistant commissioning editor, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to I Am Still With You from Sophie Scard at United Agents, on behalf of Alison Lewis at ZPA. Publication is set for spring 2022 and Amy Gash at Algonquin Books will publish simultaneously in the US.
The synopsis states: “In I Am Still With You Emmanuel Iduma retraces his family history to uncover the truth of what happened to his uncle, who enlisted in the Biafran infantry army in his twenties – never to return. Revealing the impact of conflict on memory and on families, he explores the experience of losing someone, not knowing for sure that they have died. Combining personal essay with history and travel writing, it is a richly woven, humane and moving portrait of not only the Biafran war but the intergenerational consequences of civil conflict and the psychological impact upon its communities.”
Pengelly said: “We are living through a period in which former colonial powers are reckoning with the sins of their past and present. I Am Still With You is a vital part of this conversation, a vivid account of how Nigerian families were torn apart by the civil war that followed Britain’s formal decolonisation of Nigeria, and whose lives are still marked by the emotional and psychological scars of that period. Emmanuel Iduma is an immensely gifted writer, whose words will captivate those wanting to understand more about the events that have shaped the world we live in today.”
Iduma is a Nigerian writer whose book of travel stories, A Stranger’s Pose (Cassava Republic), was longlisted for the 2019 Ondaatje Prize. He also wrote the 2016 novel The Sound of Things to Come (Mantle).
He said: “For almost all of my adult life, the story of the Civil War has held a fascination for me. Its history seemed vague and impenetrable, until I returned to the fact that my uncle remained unaccounted for after the war was over. I Am Still With You, based on my travels into towns where the war was staged, is a journey into the vacuum left by my uncle’s absence. It is an opportunity to consider how the personal is invariably welded to the political, to see how personal grief connects with collective trauma, and to speak from the vantage of those born after the war."