God of Mercy

Author: Nwọka, Okezie

Publication Date:

November 2021



Original language and publisher

English (USA) | Astra House

Territories Handled

English (UK & BC excl Can)


Debut Novel, Literary Fiction

God of Mercy

Author: Nwọka, Okezie


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

God of Mercy is a profound exploration of religion, faith, and compassion from a gifted storyteller. Okezie Nwọka creates a richly imagined postcolonial landscape that is at once otherworldly, tragically human, and completely unforgettable. — Maisy Card, author of These Ghosts are Family

God of Mercy isn’t just a heart-stopping debut—it’s a complete decolonization of the novel, a resounding rejection of the white gaze, a chronicle of a history that has for too long gone untold. This book is at the forefront of a new generation of postcolonial novels, and Nwoka’s talent is unmatched. — R.A. Frumkin, author of The Confidence

This stirring coming-of-age story holds its own in a recent wave of feminist fiction set in Africa. — Publishers Weekly

In Okezie Nwọka’s dazzling and disquieting novel God of Mercy, battles between gods reignite a war between religions . . . Rife with magical realism and full of promise . . . God of Mercy undertakes a scrupulous review of the destructive power of colonialism through an imprisoned, gifted girl. — George Hajjar, Starred Review, Foreword Reviews

Nwoka trusts readers to follow the story without much expository cultural background, and the result feels authentic and organic. Book clubs looking for stories to inspire deep discussion need look no further. — Shelf Awareness

God of Mercy is an elegantly written, morally rigorous exploration of tradition and belonging. Reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s inventive language-making and Chinua Achebe’s decolonizing legacy, Okezie Nwọka is a masterful storyteller, and a writer of unusual grace. — Alexia Arthurs, author of How to Love a Jamaican

…the prose is rhythmic and stylish … A well-turned dramatization of spiritual and social culture clashes. — Kirkus Reviews

While this tremendous work is most readily described as magical realism or as a work of fable, God of Mercy is too powerful to stay within the confines of a single genre . . . Written in verse that recalls the rhythm of fables, Nwoka eloquently details the perseverance and thriving of a young woman descended from a people who have resisted colonization at every turning point in history. — Maya C. James, Locus Magazine

What an incisive contemplation of being in the world. I read this book with awe and gratitude. It is a love letter to a world in which multiple ways of being may be celebrated. Through their meditation on igbo ontology and its colonial defilement, Nwọka invites us into an exquisite exploration of flight and abandonment, evoking stories that are as old as they are new, timeless as they are timely. — Novuyo Tshuma, author of House of Stone

Significantly, the novel ends not with a new word but an old one sung to a ‘new people’ […] The healing and rescue wrought at the end of God of Mercy do not derive from colonial Christianity or even a new interpretation of the old ways but through faithfulness to longstanding Igbo wisdom: that every person is ‘as the Other,’ and that life derives from this profound respect for difference. This
lesson—a lesson of mercy—is itself the motivation for the people’s turning away from sacrifice and enforced exile. — Cynthia R. Wallace, Ploughshares

Homegoing meets Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Okezie Nwoka’s debut novel is a powerful reimagining of a history erased.

In the Igbo village of Ichulu, the people’s worship of their gods is absolute, and their adherence to tradition has allowed them to evade colonization. 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 suffering through isolation, she comes to understand the truth of merciful love.

A sprawling cast of characters presented in lyrical prose, God of Mercy reimagines the nature of tradition and cultural heritage. Establishing a folklore of the uncolonized, it is a novel built in diaspora, wrestling with gods, confronting demons, and contending with the notion of discovering one’s true purpose.