Okechukwu Nzelu at Didsbury Arts Festival

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Okechukwu Nzelu
Author Okechukwu Nzelu.

Okechukwu Nzelu at The Art of Tea, Didsbury 29 June 2023 Entrance is free — Visit now

Award-winning author and “the future of Black British writing” Okechukwu Nzelu talks to Ayesha Ansari-Choudhury for Didsbury Arts Festival.

Oke will be chatting about his writer journey and his two novels Here Again Now, his much-anticipated follow-up to The Private Joys Of Nnenna Maloney. Described by poet and Manchester Writing School lecturer Andrew McMillan as “a magnificent novel, full of wit, warmth and tenderness”, his debut novel – the story of a half-Nigerian teenager searching for meaning – went on to win a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Polari First Book Prize. Set in Manchester, where Okechukwu lives (he works in Lancaster as a university lecturer of creative writing), The Private Joys Of Nnenna Maloney was described by The Guardian as “a vivid picture of people seeking security and identity in the maze of modern-day England” and by Booker Prize-winning Bernardine Evaristo as “smart, serious and entertaining”.

The Private Joys Of Nnenna Maloney was described by The Guardian as “a vivid picture of people seeking security and identity in the maze of modern-day England”.

His latest book, Here Again Now, came out with Hachette imprint Dialogue Books last March, and is a heart-breaking yet uplifting novel about lovers, fathers and sons, showing the power of family – both the one into which we are born and the one we choose for ourselves. Andrew McMillan again: “A powerful and heartbreaking novel; it opens up new, important space in the queer canon. Okechukwu Nzelu is a vital voice.”

Here’s the scenario for Here Again Now: “Achike Okoro feels like his life is coming together at last. His top-floor flat in Peckham is as close to home as he can imagine and after years of hard work, he’s about to get his break as an actor. He’s even persuaded his father, Chibuike, to move in with him, grateful to offer the man who raised him as a single parent a home of his own. Between filming trips, Achike is snatching a few days in London with Ekene, his best friend of twenty years, the person who makes him feel whole. Achike can put the terrible things that happened behind him at last; everything is going to be alright. Maybe even better. But after a magical night, when Achike and Ekene come within a hair’s breadth of admitting their feelings for each other, a devastating event rips all three men apart. In the aftermath, it is Ekene and Chibuike who must try to rebuild. And although they have never truly understood each other, grief may bring them both the peace and happiness they’ve been searching for…”

Originally from London, Ayesha Ansari-Choudhury is an independent bookseller promoting inclusive books and authors. A mother of two, a community artist, a human rights campaigner and the founder of Mirror Me Write, she has been a judge of the Portico Sadie Massey Awards and believes that representation is not a privilege but a right and that all children should see themselves in books.

Didsbury Arts Festival 2023 runs 24 June to 2 July, with a whole strand of spoken word and live literature to check out. We’ll be bringing you a round-up soon – watch this space…

Okechukwu Nzelu Here Again Now
Okechukwu Nzelu Here Again Now

Okechukwu Nzelu at The Art of Tea, Didsbury 29 June 2023 Entrance is free Visit now

Where to go near Okechukwu Nzelu at Didsbury Arts Festival

Café or Coffee Shop
Home Community Café

Independent, volunteer-run, and super family-friendly cafe in Didsbury serving cakes and proper coffee.

Cheese and Win platter by Cheese Hamlet
Cheese Hamlet

Head to the Cheese Hamlet in West Didsbury for a huge range of cheese, must have deli items, and preserves.

Rudy’s Didsbury

Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza serve up world-famous pizza at multiple UK branches, including this new Didsbury branch.

The Wishing Well

A new gastro pub in Didsbury Village, specialising in hearty meals and high-quality drinks. 

Albert's Restaurant & Bar
Albert’s Restaurant & Bar

Albert’s Restaurant & Bar is the right kind of small chain where you know you’ll always enjoy a high-level experience. The Didsbury branch is no exception.

Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden

Fletcher Moss Park in Didsbury Village incorporates the Alpine House and Parsonage Gardens, and eventually leads down to the River Mersey via boardwalks through Stenner Woods.

The gold sign for Saison
Burton Road, West Didsbury
Bar or Pub

Formerly known as The Violet Hour, this bar has been revamped to become Saison, with a menu of seasonal small plates and an impressive beer selection.

What's on: Literature

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Ciarán Hodgers. Photo by Wesley Storey
Word Central at Central Library

Word Central is a long-standing live literature favourite at Central Library and features open mic performers and a special guest, brought to you by Manchester Libraries and Flapjack Press.

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