'Nzelu writes with a witty confidence rarely seen in debut fiction. Smart, serious and entertaining, I expect this book to have wide appeal and for the writer to go far.'
Bernardine Evaristo, author of Booker-shortlisted novel, Girl, Woman, Other
'A magnificent novel, full of wit, warmth and tenderness'
'I haven't been able to put it down... Okechukwu Nzelu has effortlessly captured the tricky nuance of life, love, race, sexuality and familial relationships'
Candice Carty-Williams, author of Queenie
‘[a] tender, funny debut…Nzelu writes with compelling honesty, but he’s also gifted with a warm sense of humour.'
‘a vivid picture of people seeking security and identity in the maze of modern-day England. This is fiction as sculpture: skilfully paring down a scene to reveal the shape of the pain hidden within. Jonathan’s search for validation, and Nnenna’s drive to create an identity for herself, are moving and relatable stories, intimately told’
'Okechukwu writes with confidence, wit and humour. Unforgettable characters and a voice that stays with you even after the final page. Edifying and hilarious, The Private of Joys of Nnenna Maloney is a beautiful debut that you won't want to put down.'
Derek Owusu, writer, poet and podcaster
How do you begin to find yourself when you only know half of who you are?
As Nnenna Maloney approaches adulthood she longs to connect with her Igbo-Nigerian culture. Her close and tender relationship with her mother, Joanie, becomes strained as Nnenna begins to ask probing questions about her father, whom Joanie refuses to discuss.
Nnenna is asking big questions about how to 'be' when she doesn't know the whole of who she is. Meanwhile, Joanie wonders how to love when she has never truly been loved. Their lives are filled with a cast of characters asking similar questions about identity and belonging whilst grappling with the often hilarious encounters of everyday Manchester.
The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney is a funny and tender tribute to community, faith and forgiveness; to growing up and growing into ourselves.
Okechukwu Nzelu is a writer and teacher. He was born in Manchester in 1988 and read English at Girton College, Cambridge. His work has been published in Agenda, PN Review, E-magazine and The Literateur and his essay 'Troubles with God' was published in the anthology Safe: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space (Trapeze, 2019). In 2013 his radio play, Me and Alan, was broadcast on Roundhouse Radio. In 2015 he was the recipient of a New Writing North Award for The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney, which is his debut novel. He lives in Manchester.