Walking on Cowrie Shells


Nana Nkweti
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Ebook available for purchase in May 2022

Available in 12 months

B format paperback with flaps
May 2022


Walking on Cowrie Shells focuses on the lives of hyphenated-Americans with a multi-cultural heritage in the United States and Africa. The book spans genres – literary realism, horror, mystery, YA, science fiction – and features complex, fully-embodied characters: tongue-tied linguistic anthropologists, comic book enthusiasts and even water goddesses. The author hopes her stories entertain readers while also offering them a counterpoint to prevalent “heart of darkness” writing that too often depicts a singular “African” experience plagued by locusts, hunger, and tribal in-fighting. 

The collection has garnered outstanding advance praise from, among others, Yaa Gyasi, Carmen Maria Machado and Karen Russell, as well as exceptional trade press.


“Nana Nkweti’s exuberant collection is full of stories that weave together love and friendship, horror and comedy, all with great deftness. The characters, straddling continents and cultures, carving out a place for themselves, remind me of home. A wonderful debut.” 
Yaa Gyasi, author of Transcendent Kingdom and Homegoing

“A vivacious collection with sentences that sizzle on the page… Nkweti’s book is sharp and gorgeous.”
Women’s Review of Books

“Nkweti’s beautiful and immersive debut collection challenges hackneyed depictions of a monolithic Africa through an array of dynamic stories that reflect the heterogeneity of Africans and the Cameroonian diaspora… Whether Nkweti is writing about water goddesses, zombies, or aspiring graphic novelists, she reveals and celebrates the rich inner lives of those who do not fit neatly into social and cultural categories. But the author’s prose shines the brightest; Nkweti’s sentences soar, enthralling the reader through their every twist and turn, and often ending with a wry punch… This is a groundbreaking and vital work.”
Publishers Weekly

“Explosive prose and imaginative plots characterize this debut collection… Nkweti’s stories offer a wonderfully immersive experience. . . . Deliciously disorienting at times and always energizing, [Nkweti’s] style calls to mind code-switching as well as the rich polyvocality of America… Boisterous and high-spirited debut stories by a talented new writer.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Walking on Cowrie Shells is a virtuosic, kaleidoscopic debut, one that rejects the paint-by-number templates of storytelling to refresh our sense of what fiction can be and do. Nana Nkweti’s supersonic prose breaks the sound barrier as she crisscrosses genres and cultures and continents, from a zombie outbreak in Cameroon to a künstlerroman set at Comic-Con. Satirical, playful, keenly critical of the racist stereotypes and received narratives that limit women’s lives, these polyphonic tales are a joy to read. Nkweti’s ambitious, amphibious tales capture the diverse and complex experience of ‘hyphenated Americans’ who, like Nkweti, have deep roots in Africa and America. It would be impossible to overstate how much I love this book, and its author.”
Karen Russell, author of Orange World

“Nana Nkweti trills and enchants. This totally vibrant collection spins a wonder of love and horror. Each fresh universe is more captivating than the next. Always human, Walking on Cowrie Shells searches through the real and into the hyperreal. Nkweti’s words are dazzlingly energetic, world-ranging and straight-up brilliant.”
Samantha Hunt, author of The Dark Dark

“What an intoxicating book! Magical, funny, inventive and joyous, Nkweti’s tales remind us what storytelling can be.”
Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Less

“Let us thank whoever granted Nana Nkweti her all-access-pass to the human soul, for with it she is able to gain entry into the lives of women and men, children and adults, the damaged and the damaging, the human and the not-quite, all with equal clarity and conviction. Walking on Cowrie Shells is a collection of verve, audacity, and consummate control. That it is her first book makes it all
the more astonishing.”
Kevin Brockmeier

Walking on Cowrie Shells

Coming soon…

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