A Reckoning With Silence, Inheritance, and History
A deeply moving, lyrical journey through the author’s homeland of Nigeria, in search of the truth about his disappeared uncle and the history of a war that shaped him, his family, and a nation
In inimitable, rhythmic prose, the author and winner of the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize Emmanuel Iduma tells the story of his return to Nigeria, where he grew up, after years of living in New York. He traveled home with an elusive mission: to learn the fate of his uncle Emmanuel, his namesake, who disappeared in the Nigerian Civil War in the late 1960s. A conflict that left so many families broken, the war remains at the margins of the history books, almost taboo to discuss. To find answers, Iduma stopped in city after city throughout the former Biafra region, reconnecting with relatives dear and distant to probe their memories, prowling university libraries to furtively photocopy illicit books, and visiting half-abandoned monuments along the highway. Perhaps, he realized, if he could understand how his father grieved the loss of a brother in the war, he might learn how to grieve his late father in turn.
His is also the story of countless families across the country and across the world who will never have answers or proper funerals for their loved ones. It’s a story about the birth of an artist, about writing itself as an act both healing and political, even dangerous. And it’s a story about family history and legacy, and all the questions the dead leave unanswered. How much of the author’s identity is wrapped up in this inheritance? And what does it mean to return home, when the people who define it are gone?
Equal parts memoir, national history, and political reckoning, I Am Still With You is a profoundly personal story of collective loss and making peace with the unknowable.
“Traveling through Nigeria, Emmanuel Iduma confronts and contemplates the wounds left by the Biafran war: death on a mass scale; deaths in his family; griefs, angers and questions that still plague the living. I Am Still With You is both epic and intimate. It gives us the beauties and consolations of an ethnical imagination.” — Margo Jefferson, author of Constructing a Nervous System
"I Am Still With You by Emmanuel Iduma is a lyrical investigation into the nature of being, history, the collective memory of Biafra—a dark chapter in world history. Iduma writes with such startling clarity that the book ultimately becomes both powerful and transcendent." — Chigozie Obioma, Booker Prize-shortlisted author of The Fishermen and An Orchestra of Minorities
“Like Manthia Diawara's In Search of Africa, Emmanuel Iduma's story of a nation's making—and unmaking—is rooted in a personal search for a lost individual. I Am Still With You is a moving account of a return, and a profound, elegiac plea for recognition of both the living and the dead. A compelling, sharply-observed story of discovery, beautifully paced and haunting in its details.” — Amitava Kumar, author of A Time
Outside This Time and Immigrant, Montana
“A poignant story rescued from…silences and lacunae. A powerful contribution to modern Nigerian history, particularly significant in an age of ethnic conflict around the world.”— Kirkus Reviews, *starred review*
“An immersive memoir… throughout, Iduma reflects on the power of family to both unite and divide…Iduma’s unravelling of the past is bound to leave readers eager to uncover their own family secrets.” — Publishers Weekly
“To the daughter of a Nigerian man, long gone, this book shines a light through the silent fog that shrouded our past. It is a gift of understanding, for me and countless others.”— Rachel Edwards, author of Darling
“A genre-defying work, I Am Still with You is a quest, both spiritual and real, a travelogue, a memoir, and a history of Biafra. It is a requiem to war’s unburied and unsung. It is a record of a writer’s mind grappling with the consequences of a national and personal loss. Acutely observed, hauntingly rendered, and deeply affecting—a masterful achievement.” — Aminatta Forna, author of Happiness and The Window Seat