The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney

Front Cover
Little, Brown Book Group, Oct 3, 2019 - Fiction - 320 pages

SHORTLISTED FOR THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE 2020

'A magnificent novel, full of wit, warmth and tenderness' Andrew McMillan

'Smart, serious and entertaining' Bernardine Evaristo


How do you begin to find yourself when you only know half of who you are?

As Nnenna Maloney approaches womanhood she longs to connect with her Igbo-Nigerian culture. Her once close and tender relationship with her mother, Joanie, becomes strained as Nnenna begins to ask probing questions about her father, who Joanie refuses to discuss.

Nnenna is asking big questions of 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.

Okechukwu Nzelu brings us a funny and heart-warming story that covers the expanse of race, gender, class, family and redemption, with a fresh and distinctive new voice. Perfect for fans of Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams and Zadie Smith's White Teeth.

'Effortlessly capture[s] the tricky nuance of life, love, race, sexuality and familial relationships' Candice Carty-Williams, author of Queenie

'Edifying and hilarious, The Private of Joys of Nnenna Maloney is a beautiful debut that you won't want to put down' Derek Owusu

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

About the author (2019)

Okechukwu Nzelu is a writer and teacher. In 2015 he was the recipient of a New Writing North Award. In 2020 his debut novel, The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney, won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize, and the Polari First Book Prize. He lives in Manchester and is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Lancaster.

Bibliographic information