“Nwoka’s debut feels like a dream, or a fable, or something in between . . . Recommended for fans of Nnedi Okorafor’s Remote Control or Nghi Vo’s The Empress of Salt and Fortune.” —Ashley Rayner, Booklist
"[God of Mercy] owes a debt to Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, revising that novel's message for the recent past . . . A well-turned dramatization of spiritual and social culture clashes." —Kirkus Reviews
Homegoing meets Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Okezie Nwọka’s debut novel is a powerful reimagining of a history erased.
God of Mercy is set in Ichulu, an Igbo village where the people’s worship of their gods is absolute. Their adherence to tradition has allowed them to evade the influences of colonialism and globalization. But the village is reckoning with changes, including a war between gods signaled by Ijeoma, a girl who can fly.
As tensions grow between Ichulu and its neighboring colonized villages, Ijeoma is forced into exile. Reckoning with her powers and exposed to the world beyond Ichulu, she is imprisoned by a Christian church under the accusation of being a witch. Suffering through isolation, she comes to understand the truth of merciful love.
Reimagining the nature of tradition and cultural heritage and establishing a folklore of the uncolonized, God of Mercy is a novel about wrestling with gods, confronting demons, and understanding one's true purpose.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Tinged with magical realism, Okezie Nwọka’s compelling, powerful novel is one seriously impressive debut. Ijeoma is a young Igbo girl living in a small Nigerian village. She can’t speak—though she can fly, among other impressive talents that amaze her and horrify the rest of the village. When Ijeoma’s father banishes her, she ends up in the hands of Christian evangelicals who label her a witch and brutalize her. Nwọka’s rich good-versus-evil narrative explores the tension between old and new gods and a woman’s place in a patriarchal society. It’s also a great coming-of-age tale. Nwọka skillfully shifts between a rhythmic, poetic lilt and a harsher, more staccato cadence as they transport us through the beats of their story. “I think readers who want to decolonize literature will really enjoy God of Mercy,” the author tells Apple Books. Their book is a richly imagined and memorable fable about the ripple effects of colonialism.
Nwoka's dense, mythologically charged debut takes place in an Igbo village in an unspecified area of Africa, at an unspecified time. There, magic is a part of daily life, the inhabitants attribute their fortunes to the Igbo gods, and young, mute Ijeoma discovers she can fly. Her dissolute father, Ofodile, decides this power is dangerous, and, without the knowledge of Ijeoma's mother or the rest of the community, exiles her to Precious Word Ministries, where she is abused, caged, and regarded as a witch. After years of maltreatment, during which she writes hundreds of diary entries entreating the village god Chukwu to save her, she and her rebellious friend Ikemba make plans to escape, and their scheming brings about magical and transformative consequences. Nwoka immerses the reader in an often-bewildering world, and though readers unfamiliar with the culture will have a tough time making sense of the parameters, those who stick with it will be rewarded with a rich sense of place. This stirring coming-of-age story holds its own in a recent wave of feminist fiction set in Africa.