Set in contemporary Nigeria, Uche Okonkwo’s A Kind of Madness is a collection of ten stories concerned with literal madness but also those private feelings that, when left unspoken, can feel like a type of madness: desire, desperation, hunger, fear, sadness, shame, longing. In these stories, 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 village. 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. 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.
In vivid, evocative prose, 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 and inviting us all to consider the question: why is it that the people and places we hold closest are so often the ones that drive us to madness?