HITTING SHELVES #29: Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett


Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett comes out today!

It’s the story of a black Nigerian man who wakes up one morning to discover that he has turned into a white man… except for his ass. So he makes his way to a scheduled job interview in Lagos as a different person. Blackass is a blistering satire of contemporary Nigeria with echoes of Kafka, Kipling, and the Eddie Murphy SNL sketch “White Like Me.”

We asked the author one question.

How are you celebrating the publication of Blackass?

Today’s Google Doodle, a rabbit with “29” drawn on its side leaping between two others numbered “28” and “1”, informs me that my book’s release is one day later than it would have been on the same day for the past three years. A leap year, a quadrennial grace—perhaps a celestial portent of my novel’s bestselling success? Uh-huh. Another day of New York’s temperamental winter.

A. Igoni Barrett
A. Igoni Barrett

Tomorrow, the first day of the same month I’ll celebrate my thirty-seventh birthday, I’ll be Amtraking toward macabre Boston, the birthplace of Edgar Allan Poe. Such an essential writer, such a hard life! His father abandoned him at one, his mother died when he was two: He was raised by a foster family whose breadwinner was a slave dealer. He lost his older brother at 18, and then married his 13-year-old cousin, only to also lose her twelve years later. In addition to these personal tragedies, he never earned enough from his writing to be comfortable, eventually dying in the streets at 40, broke and alone.

In life as in publishing, success doesn’t always go to the deserving. Sometimes it waits until you’re dead. On March 1, as my novel marches off bookstore shelves in the United States, I’ll celebrate by thinking about those artists who spin dreams out of their sorrows—that Bostonian writer who has outlasted every negative review of his work. May we be so lucky, Poe.

Get the book here.

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