A Kind of Madness

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“Steady-handed and gut-punching. I’m in awe.”—NoViolet Bulawayo

An Oprah Daily Most Anticipated Book of 2024

In ten vivid, evocative stories set in contemporary Nigeria, Uche Okonkwo’s extraordinary debut asks: why are the people and places we hold closest so often the ones that drive us to madness?

A teenage girl from a poor family is dazzled by her rich, vivacious friend, but as the friend’s behavior grows unstable and dangerous, she must decide whether to cover for her or risk telling the truth to get her the help she needs. A young woman and her mother bask in the envy of their neighbors when the woman receives an offer of marriage from the family of a doctor living in Belgium—though when the offer fails to materialize, that envy threatens to turn vicious, pitting them both against their community. And a lonely daughter finds herself wandering a village in eastern Nigeria in an ill-fated quest, struggling to come to terms with her mother’s mental illness.

Across ten stories, Uche Okonkwo’s A Kind of Madness unravels the tensions between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, best friends, siblings, and more, marking the arrival of an extraordinary new talent in fiction.


  • This debut short-story collection features 10 stories set in present-day Nigeria, all concerned with madness—both the literal madness of mental illness as well as the unruliness of outsize emotions like envy, shame, and desire.

    —Oprah Daily, A Most Anticipated Book of 2024

  • Okonkwo has a Chekhovian eye for the tangle of internal motivations and assumptions that steer her characters. . . .Readers will be eager for more of Okonkwo’s artful writing.

    —Publishers Weekly, starred review

  • Surprising, illuminating, and deeply human.


  • Vivid. . . .  In addition to striking a perfect balance between humor and heartbreak, A Kind of Madness shows incredible wiseness on the complexity and at times maddening nature of loving our family, our friends, and our home.”

    —Chicago Review of Books, A Best Book of April

  • Amazingly written characters in unforgettable settings. Okonkwo’s writing is transformative.

    —Debutiful, A best Book of April

  • Okonkwo’s writing is both lyrical and direct, capturing the nuances of emotion with honesty and compassion. A Kind of Madness invites us to confront our own biases, question societal norms, and ultimately recognize our humanity.

    —One Story

  • Vivid, evocative. . . . marking the arrival of an extraordinary new talent in fiction.

    —Write or Die, A Most Anticipated Book of Summer

  • Steady-handed and gut-punching. I’m in awe of this mad collection, this necessary writer.

    —NoViolet Bulawayo, author of Glory

  • A Kind of Madness is both generous and discerning, with clear-eyed pragmatism and a masterful, often hilarious, use of irony. Marvelous

    —Lesley Nneka Arimah, author of What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky

  • Hilarious and heartbreaking. . . . A delightful debut.

    —Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, author of A Girl is a Body of Water

  • Uche Okonkwo’s voice is absorbing. I was immersed in the familiar world of these tender, playfully haunting, darkly funny stories. Okonkwo is a writer to watch.

    —Chinelo Okparanta, author of Harry Sylvester Bird

  • Touched my heart. Uche Okonkwo’s stories are among the very best.

    —Sidik Fofana, author of Stories from the Tenants Downstairs

  • To read Uche Okonkwo’s A Kind of Madness is to have an experience: of complex characters grappling with life’s many troubles, of a robust culture, of history, of the battle between the domestic and the public, and all the big themes of life woven together. Like Jhumpa Lahiri, Okonkwo’s mastery of the form is as rich as some of the short story’s best practitioners and deserves every recognition it is sure to get.

    —Chigozie Obioma, author of An Orchestra of Minorities

  • Uche Okonkwo’s A Kind of Madness is full of vivid, unforgettable characters and rare insight. This is a book that pulls you in, with its fierce undertow, and once you start reading, you won’t want to stop. Okonkwo is one of the most exciting young writers working today, and these stories are brilliant.

    —Elliott Holt, author of You Are One of Them

  • Uche Okonkwo’s stories, set in contemporary Nigeria, have a gentle allure, drawing us into the intimate lives of characters and their worlds with elegant, assured prose and a deep understanding of the complex machinations of human manners and sentiment. A striking debut!

    —Kwame Dawes, author of Sturge Town