Jumoke Verissimo is a celebrated Nigerian writer currently living in Toronto, Canada. Her poetry collection i am memory was published by Dada Press in 2008 to wide acclaim and The Birth of Illusion (Fullpoint Publications) a finalist for the NLNG Prize for Literature. Her latest novel, A Small Silence, received critical praise and was a finalist for the Edinburgh Festival first book award and the RSL Ondaatje prize shortlist. The Book won the Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize and her most recent book is Grandma and The Moon’s Hidden Secret, a picture book. Her work spans a diverse range of genres. She is on the editorial board of NeWest Press.

Jumoke, who splits her time between Canada and Nigeria, ignites a passion for storytelling in the next generation as an Assistant Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University.

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A Small Silence
2019

A Small Silence is an intimate and evocative debut charges us to look again at the alienating effects of trauma and the power of solitude and darkness to ignite the imagination.

Prof is an ex-prisoner, activist and retired academic, who resolves to live a life of darkness after his release from prison. He holes up in his apartment, pushing away friends and family, and embraces his status as an urban legend in the neighbourhood until a knock at the door shakes his existence.

His visitor is Desire, an orphan and final year student, who has grown up idolising Prof, following a fateful encounter in her hometown of Maroko, Nigeria as a child. Tentatively, the two begin to form a bond, as she returns every night at 9pm to see him. However, the darkness of the room becomes a steady torment, that threatens to drive Desire away for good.

Praise

“An intriguing…intimate debut” – Leila Aboulela

“A compelling and compulsive story” – Helon Habila

“A Small Silence feels like an act of literary disruption. Hypnotic, expertly crafted and full of subtle power, it challenges cultural norms around silence, darkness and solitude, leaving the reader changed in ways that are hard to define.” – Irenosen Okojie, Guardian

“The atmosphere of this book was the first thing that drew me in. A feeling of disquiet and tension, even in the quotidian. It manages beauty and lyricism and at the same time as restraint, an impressive line to walk. It left me feeling like I had witnessed a spell of some kind.” – Evie Wyld (Judge, Ondaatje Prize 2020)

In The Press

Punch Newspaper

"One of those who will change the face of literature in Nigeria."

The Guardian

"Hypnotic, expertly crafted and full of subtle power"

Africainwords

"Verissimo clinically dissects conversations and issues, making her characters easier to connect to and the story more familiar."

BrittlePaper

"A mixture of beautiful writing and off-the-wall characters"