Crackling with energy and intelligence, this debut is the "smart, subversive, funny, heartbreaking" (Kamila Shamsie) story of an exceptional teenager coming of age in the shadow of colonialism and communal violence in Nigeria.
Andrew Aziza is an unusually smart fifteen-year-old in Kontagora, Nigeria. He lives with his fiercely protective mother, Gloria, and fantasizes obsessively about white girls-especially blondes. When he's not in church, at school, or hanging about town with his droogs wishing to become one of “Africa's first superheroes,” he's contemplating the larger questions with his teacher Zahrah and his equally brilliant friend Fatima, a Hausa-Fulani girl who has feelings for him. Together they discuss mathematical theorems, Black power, and what Andy has deemed the Curse of Africa.
Sure enough, the reluctantly nicknamed Andy Africa soon falls hopelessly and inappropriately in love with the first white girl he lays eyes on: Eileen. But at the church party held to celebrate her arrival, multiple crises loom. An unfamiliar man there claims, despite his mother's denials, to be Andy's father, and an anti-Christian mob has gathered, headed for the church. In the ensuing havoc and its aftermath, Andy is forced to reckon with his identity and desires and determine how to live on the so-called Cursed Continent.
The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa announces a dazzlingly unique literary voice. Crackling with energy, this tragicomic novel provides a stunning lens into contemporary African life, the complicity of the West, and the impossible challenges of growing up in a turbulent world.
“Buoro's first novel is bold, honest, and fizzing with energy in its depiction of what it's like to live inside the mind of a 15-year-old boy . . . Buoro, recipient of the Booker Prize Foundation Scholarship, is an exciting new literary voice emphatically carving space for himself. Andy's narration is witty and sharp and ingrained with deep philosophies innocently presented. Buoro captures the essence of 'trauma laughter,' interlacing humor with the sorrows of Andy's life and taking both his main character and the reader on an intense journey of self-discovery. This tale demands that readers keep up or get left behind.” —Booklist
“A compelling but never boring portrait . . . Written in an obscene, colloquial style reminiscent of Junot Diaz and Sherman Alexie, the novel is funny, raucous, and most devastating.” —Buzzfeed
“Andy is a winning narrator, by turns self-deprecating and sardonic and lyrical as well, thanks to [his] poetry, interspersed throughout . . . The title's crucifixion reference frames Andy as both a Christ figure and a comically self-martyring figure, and Buoro has an assured grasp of religious and coming-of-age themes. A promising debut that upends the typical bildungsroman.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A barnstorming, heartbreaking debut . . . Tackling the perils of carving out a unique identity in a world of carnage and confusion, in the shadow of colonialism, this assured, engaging book, will make you fall in love with teenager Andy Aziza, and will undoubtedly make a star of Stephen Buoro.” —Harper's (UK)
“A bildungsroman of impressive ambition and depth . . . Unforgettable . . . A novel of ideas and a literary page-turner; an invigorating, tragicomic tale of teenage yearning, love and identity that grips you with its twisting plot and spirited prose.” —Bookseller (UK), Best Book of the Month
“Beautiful, intelligent, and heart-wrenching.” —NoViolet Bulawayo, author of GLORY and WE NEED NEW NAMES
“A blazing debut - smart, subversive, funny, heartbreaking. I'm already impatient for Buoro's next book.” —Kamila Shamsie, author of HOME FIRE and BEST OF FRIENDS
“I fell in love with this novel immediately. It has hilarious energy, a satirical but also wildly ambitious philosophical framework . . . It's eccentric, profound, timely, specific but it also has global concerns and a really, really brilliant central character.” —Max Porter, author of LANNY and GRIEF IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS
“Stephen Buoro's wonderful The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa is filled with lovable, memorable characters. You'll meet a young man pining over a fantasy; his fierce mother who tries to shield him as best she can; a friend who confides; and others who just want happiness. This novel is at once funny and heartbreaking. Most importantly, it's honest.” —De'Shawn Charles Winslow, author of Decent People and In West Mills
“Fascinating; unashamedly, brilliantly intelligent. It grapples with ideas around maths, Afrofuturism, biblical myth . . . profound philosophical stuff, but fundamentally it's a really playful, pleasurable book about young boy who's falling madly in love, and has a difficult, intense, loving relationship with his mother.” —Sarah Perry, author of MELMOTH and THE ESSEX SERPENT
“This novel exudes a wonderfully vivid sense of place and leads the reader inside the head of its teenage hero . . . It's a narrative of depth that also manages to be instantly engaging.” —Ian Rankin, author of the Inspector Rebus novels