Shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize
Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize
Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize
Torn from his father and a loving sister, the young student Zuba is imprisoned for a crime he has not even thought about committing. His misfortune: to live in a world where corruption is rife and honest and law-abiding people are crushed by the wheels of a blind, unscrupulous bureaucracy. What seems at first to be an irksome judiciary misunderstanding gradually becomes a journey through the hell of Nigerian prisons. Only by showing the utmost daring and integrity will Zuba be able to regain his freedom.
Funny, crude, poignant, Kachi Ozumba’s debut novel reveals the darker side of a country striving to consolidate democracy after years of dictatorship and tribal in-fighting. There is as much of The Shawshank Redemption in this story as there is Don Quixote, and lovers of Chinua Achebe, Ben Okri and J.M. Coetzee will also find much to delight and inspire them.
'Kachi A Ozumba not only writes about a big important subject, corruption and imprisonment in Nigeria, he does so with consummate skill and humour. The Shadow of a Smile
is a compelling novel that centres around Zuba, a complex and fascinating character whose weakness turns into his strength. Ozumba has a brilliant ear for dialogue, he brings Nigeria bubbling to the page. At times poignant, lyrical and often very funny, Kachi Ozumba is a talent to watch out for.' Jackie Kay
'Nigerian writer Kachi A Ozumba takes us on a tour of life on the 'inside' of a prison cell. Despite the inhumanities of life in prison and the stereotypes we have built around it, Kachi shows how the laws and rules prisoners make for themselves provide an uncanny mirror of life lived on the outside.'- BBC World Service
‘Ozumba’s skilfully uses descriptive prose to bring the prison aromas from the page’ - The New Black Magazine
Interview with Kachi A. Ozumba
Read an excerpt from The Shadow of a Smile
Visit the author's website