A Igoni Barrett debut novel Blackass has been available to Chinese readers since 2017.
We have covered A. Igoni Barrett on this blog mainly because of his work as one of the principal judges for the Graywolf Press Africa Prize. While this is important work, the Lagos-based writer is more than just a judge for a lucrative project for African writers. He is an accomplished writer in his own right with the two short story collections From Caves of Rotten Teeth (2005, 2008) and Love is Power, or Something Like That (2013).
In 2015, his debut novel Blackass was published with the following blurb;
Furo Wariboko, a young Nigerian, awakes the morning before a job interview to find that he’s been transformed into a white man. In this condition, he plunges into the bustle of Lagos to make his fortune. With his red hair, green eyes, and pale skin, it seems he’s been completely changed. Well, almost. There is the matter of his family, his accent, his name. Oh, and his black ass. Furo must quickly learn to navigate a world made unfamiliar and deal with those who would use him for their own purposes. Taken in by a young woman called Syreeta and pursued by a writer named Igoni, Furo lands his first-ever job, adopts a new name, and soon finds himself evolving in unanticipated ways. A. Igoni Barrett’s Blackass is a fierce comic satire that touches on everything from race to social media while at the same time questioning the values society places on us simply by virtue of the way we look. As he did in Love Is Power, or Something Like That, Barrett brilliantly depicts life in contemporary Nigeria and details the double-dealing and code-switching that are implicit in everyday business. But it’s Furo’s search for an identity–one deeper than skin–that leads to the final unraveling of his own carefully constructed story.
The Kafkaesque novel was one of the most celebrated books of that year even getting longlisted for the FT / OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Awards and shortlisted for the Nommo Awards in 2017. The book was made available to readers in Chinese published by the People’s Literature Publishing House on June 1, 2017. We were only made aware of this when the writer shared it on his social media on October 31, 2019, which is why we are sharing this with you now. If you want to get a copy of the book you can check it on Amazon here.