Ogadinma Or, Everything Will Be All Right


Ukamaka Olisakwe
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Ogadinma Or, Everything Will be All Right is a tale of departure, loss and adaptation; of mothers who experience trauma at the hands of controlling men, leaving them with burdens they find too much to bear.

After an episode of abuse results in exile from her family in Kano, thwarting her plans to go to university, seventeen-year-old Ogadinma is sent to her aunt’s house in Lagos. When a whirlwind romance with an older man descends into indignity, she is forced to channel her strength and resourcefulness to escape a fate that appears all but inevitable.

A feminist classic in the making, Ukamaka Olisakwe’s second novel introduces a heroine for whom it is impossible not to root and announces the author as a gifted chronicler of the patriarchal experience.


‘Ukamaka Olisakwe has written an unflinching portrait of survival and strength. The story of Ogadinma’s indomitable character and her harrowing journey is deeply moving. Olisakwe has proven to be a fearless writer, and I am grateful for this powerful work.’
— Julianna Baggott, author of The Seventh Book of Wonders

‘An intimate and dazzling exploration of the life and times of a young Nigerian woman whose move to the capital city of Lagos leads to a series of encounters, which are by turns disorienting, revelatory and tragic.’
— Christopher Merrill, author of Self-Portrait with Dogwood

‘Olisakwe’s affecting novel begins with a gut punch and ends in an epiphany. Written in vivid, engaging prose, this is the story of one woman’s journey to independence.’
— Chinelo Okparanta, author of Under the Udala Trees

‘A stirring, unflinching novel that further cements Olisakwe as an important feminist voice.’
— Rob Spillman, co-founder of Tin House and author of All Tomorrow’s Parties

Dimensions: B format paperback with flaps
Length: 256 pages
Published: 10 September 2020
ISBN: 9781911648161
Cover design: © House of Thought

Publicist: Susie Nicklin at The Indigo Press
Agent: Claire Anderson-Wheeler at Regal Hoffmann and Associates
Foreign rights: The Marsh Agency

About the author

Ukamaka Olisakwe is a Nigerian novelist, short story writer and screenwriter. In 2014 she was chosen as one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s most promising writers under the age of 40. She was born in Kano, Nigeria, and in 2016, was a resident at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.

Her writing has appeared in Catapult, the New York Times and The Rumpus. She wrote the screenplay for The Calabash, a Nigerian television series that premiered in 2015 on Africa Magic Showcase.


It was the early eighties, around the time a group of senior army officers overthrew the democratically elected government, when Austrian lace and aso-oke were trendy and church services were fashion shows – an endless, shameless carnival of women in colourful blouses blended with expensive ichafu which they tied in layers and pleats until the scarves were piled atop their heads like large plants, obstructing the view of everyone seated behind them. Everyone looked forward to Sundays, to going to church. Those who could not afford these processions snuck in very early for the children’s service, because that was the graceful thing to do – to worship with children in their simple clothes of cheap blouses over Nigerian wax, and okrika shoes whose heels had worn out and made koi-koi-koi sounds on the tiled floor.

It was on a Monday after one of those Sundays that Ogadinma walked into Barrister Chima’s office for the first time.
The room was empty. The fan whirled, scattering the papers on the cluttered desk. They floated to the floor, slid under the table, under the chair, by the door and by her feet. She wondered if it would be awkward to walk in uninvited and pick them up. She knocked again, louder this time. ‘Hello!’ she called out, her voice echoing. There was a click of heels. A girl emerged from the connecting door, her blue skirt so short she would not be comfortable if she were to bend over to get the papers. The name tag pinned to her white blouse said she was ‘Amara’.

‘What do you want?’ she asked, her gaze piercing.

‘Your papers,’ Ogadinma pointed at the floor, but Amara wrinkled her nose, ignoring the scattered sheets, arching an eyebrow. ‘I am looking for Barrister Chima,’ Ogadinma said, bringing out the business card her father gave her, holding it up for Amara to see.

‘Come in,’ Amara said, waving her into the waiting room, and only after Ogadinma had gone in did Amara crouch carefully – not bend, because she could never bend without exposing her underwear – to pick up the scattered papers.

When her father described the address, Ogadinma had expected a proper workplace, or at least, a hall split into cubicles. She had never been in a barrister’s office and so did not know what the place would look like. But this was anything but an office. It was a typical two- or three-bedroom flat, the same model many houses around the area replicated. Without being told, she knew that the ‘waiting room’ was originally designed to be a parlour, that the connecting door led to Barrister Chima’s office, which most likely had a master toilet. A small TV, half the size of her family’s Philips black-and-white TV, was locked away in a metal cage knocked into the wall. She resisted the urge to laugh, because who on God’s earth would want anything to do with that toy?

Amara returned but headed straight for the barrister’s office. ‘Barrister Chima will see you after he is done attending to the client inside,’ she said when she re-emerged, an exaggerated air of importance about her.

Ogadinma began to say ‘thank you’, but Amara was already koi-koi-ing away. She looked no more than seventeen or eighteen, perhaps a secondary school leaver like Ogadinma, who was passing time as a receptionist while waiting for a university admission letter.

Publisher’s Weekly, 13 January 2021: ‘Starred Review: Ogadinma: Or, Everything Will Be All Right’

Wilfred Okiche for YNaija, 18 December 2020: ‘The Notable books of the year’

Granta, 9 December 2020: ‘Top Reads 2020 | Fiction’

University of South Dakota, 9 November 2020: ‘USD Colloquium Series’

One Read Podcast, 1 November 2020: ‘November Monthly Read Author, Ukamaka Olisakwe talks to Chika Unigwe about her novel Ogadinma.’

The Indie Insider Newsletter, 16 September 2020: ‘Issue 2: Bildungsroman’

Harriet Anena for Columbia Journal, 3 May 2020: ‘Review: Ogadinma Or, Everything Will Be Alright by Ukamaka Olisakwe’

Kola Tubosun for The Lagos Review 29 March 2020: ‘Ogadinma: Book Title as Prayer’

Nigerian edition

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