Jumoke Verissimo was born in Lagos, Nigeria. She writes poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Her poetry collections; i am memory and The Birth of Illusion were a finalist for the 2017 NLNG Prize for Literature. Her novel, A Small Silence (Cassava Republic), 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. Her most recent book is Grandma and the Moon’s Hidden Secret, a picture book written in Yoruba and translated into English. Verissimo currently lives in Canada, where she works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English 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)