The Bookseller – Rights – Canongate unveils Unigwe’s ‘powerful’ novel


Canongate acquired middle girl, Chika Unigwe’s reimagining of the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades, centered on a woman’s experience of living in a patriarchal society.

Ellah Wakatama, editor, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Kate Johnson of Wolf Literary.

The girl in the middle is a story with a powerful message of cultivating resilience and finding agency in womanhood,” the synopsis reads. “When Nani is only 17, she loses her beloved sister and father. Misunderstood by the rest of her family, she is seduced by a traveling preacher, a handsome self-proclaimed “man of God” who seems to offer all the answers.

“But instead of building a better future with him, Nani is forced too soon into a difficult woman’s life with an oppressive husband. Will she find the courage to take charge of her own life and pursue true happiness, and At what price ?”

Unigwe is a professor of writing at Georgia College, Milledgeville, Georgia. She is the author of several works of fiction including In the street of the black sisters (Vintage), which won the NLNG Prize for Literature worth $100,000, and more recently the collection of short stories better never than late (Cassava short).

“This contemporary reimagining of the myth of Hades and Persephone told in a polyphony of voices examines the struggles of being a woman in a patriarchal society, explores issues of feminism and gender, and the dynamics of family relationships,” said she declared. “I am honored to publish this book with Canongate, and especially thrilled to work again with the brilliant Ellah Wakatama.”

Wakatama added, “It’s been 15 years since I released Chika’s debut. In the street of the black sisters. I am so happy to be reunited – and even happier that our editorial landscape has been enriched by the work of writers like her who have opened up the lives, struggles and triumphs of African women. Chika is a writer of the particular whose messages of resilience, love and agency will resonate with readers far beyond the confines of her environment.”

Canongate will publish the novel in April 2023 simultaneously with Dzanc Books in the United States.

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