**One of Time’s 32 Books You Need to Read This Summer**
An NPR Best Book of 2019
An “electrifying” (Publishers Weekly) debut novel from Rhodes Scholar and winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing about a Nigerian family living in Utah and their uneasy assimilation to American life.
Living in small-town Utah has always been an uncomfortable fit for Tunde Akinola’s family, especially for his Nigeria-born parents. Though Tunde speaks English with a Midwestern accent, he can’t escape the children who rub his skin and ask why the black won’t come off. As he struggles to fit in, he finds little solace from his parents who are grappling with their own issues.
Tunde’s father, ever the optimist, works tirelessly chasing his American dream while his wife, lonely in Utah without family and friends, sinks deeper into schizophrenia. Then one otherwise-ordinary morning, Tunde’s mother wakes him with a hug, bundles him and his baby brother into the car, and takes them away from the only home they’ve ever known.
But running away doesn’t bring her, or her children, any relief; once Tunde’s father tracks them down, she flees to Nigeria, and Tunde never feels at home again. He spends the rest of his childhood and young adulthood searching for connection—to the wary stepmother and stepbrothers he gains when his father remarries; to the Utah residents who mock his father’s accent; to evangelical religion; to his Texas middle school’s crowd of African-Americans; to the fraternity brothers of his historically black college. In so doing, he discovers something that sends him on a journey away from everything he has known.
Sweeping, stirring, and perspective-shifting, A Particular Kind of Black Man is “wild, vulnerable, lived…A study of the particulate self, the self as a constellation of moving parts” (The New York Times Book Review).
Tope Folarin is a Nigerian-American writer based in Washington, DC. He won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2013 and was shortlisted once again in 2016. He was also recently named to the Africa39 list of the most promising African writers under 40. He was educated at Morehouse College and the University of Oxford, where he earned two Masters degrees as a Rhodes Scholar. He is the author of A Particular Kind of Black Man.
"Narrator Prentice Onayemi's soft tones and introspective style highlight the inner turmoil and confusion felt by Tunde Akinola, a first-generation Nigerian–American boy who is trying to make sense of his fractured world. Throughout his childhood, Tunde struggles with loneliness, family instability, and establishing a sense of self, just as his immigrant father struggles to find work that suits his skills and respects his ethnicity. Onayemi's delivery captures Tunde's changing perspective as the boy matures from a 6-year-old who is sometimes afraid of his schizophrenic mother, to an adolescent who is trying to get used to a new mother and stepbrothers, and to a 17-year-old college freshman who is worried about his own mental health. Onayemi successfully employs various accents to distinguish the varied English-language skills of Tunde's family."