The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa (Hardcover)
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 is a writer of imagination and flair . . . His sentences are mad, boisterous, incantatory—and, in a continent where rhythm is as common as praying, quite singular. The prose on any page could only be his. And Andy Africa is an unforgettable character: an old soul, goofy and generous, who dreams his evanescent dreams while battling his friends’ joshing and his own longings. The challenges facing young people—among them poverty, corruption and the vision of life in Europe and America that social media peddles— are one reason contemporary African literature is rich in coming-of-age stories. For its sheer energy, The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa is among the best." - The Economist
"A literary blockbuster . . . A voice that is upbeat, familiar, catchy and breezy as a pop song . . . Storylines are set within Buoro’s vibrant, nuanced representation of Nigeria. He does not exoticise or sanitise Africa for the western gaze. Instead, he presents west Africa’s complexity and contradictions … Buoro commits to representing diversity within Blackness, the way Toni Morrison does." - The Guardian (UK)
"Funny and poignant." - Los Angeles Times
"Enthrals . . . Punchy . . . The vivid immediacy of Buoro’s prose is transporting . . . There is swagger and humility in Buoro’s writing, which blends the bluster of a teenage boy who knows he’s a “loud smartass” with the diffidence of someone who knows his country is broken . . . When, near the end of the book, Zahrah tells Andy, “You’ve got a huge interesting life ahead of you,” she could be talking about Buoro, whose writing deserves to inspire a generation of superheroes." - The Times (UK)
"A heart wrenching coming-of-age story … This debut novel grapples with identity and contemporary African life all through its beautiful prose." - USA Today
"A debut from a sharp new voice . . . Stephen Buoro’s first novel is funny, vulgar, and wrenching." - New York Magazine
"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
"Craft and verve abound in this tragicomic coming-of-age debut fueled by the lapel-grabbing voice of its 15-year-old narrator, Andy . . . Both sweet and sour, it offers a family story, a thwarted romance and a story of friendship . . . A multi-level success, attuned to political and cultural complexity, but bright and breezy reading with it." - Daily Mail
"Hilarious and heartbreaking and full of surprises." - Philadelphia Inquirer
"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)
"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
"An irreverent coming-of-age story . . . Buoro deftly blends low-brow humor with sophisticated religious and literary references, elevating this highly anticipated novel to a poignant lament for a country and its children." - Library Journal
"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 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
"The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa announces the arrival of an exciting new verbal craftsman with a fresh voice . . . [Stephen Buoro's] satirical writing is hilarious and reflection-inducing . . . [writing] texts within the text . . . that leave the reader in awe of the writer’s versatility and prowess." - Chicago Review of Books
"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
"Bouncing between humor and tension, Buoro sprinkles the text with gleaming poetry, intercutting the thrilling and at times difficult narrative with ease. His words describe modern Nigeria uncomfortably yet honestly … Remarkable." - The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"This charming coming-of-age story . . . oozes conviction from the very first page . . . quite exceptional." - Daily Mail (UK)
"Tragically ebullient . . . The ending is one of the most staggering since Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust." - Financial Times (UK)