“This is a really wonderful story. Bisi Adjapon writes with incredible vividness and clarity.” - Dave Eggers, publisher of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
In this stunning debut novel—a tale of self-discovery and feminist awakening—a feisty Nigerian-Ghanaian girl growing up amid the political upheaval of late 1960s postcolonial Ghana begins to question the hypocrisy of her patriarchal society, and the restrictions and unrealistic expectations placed on women. Young Esi Agyekum is the unofficial “secret keeper” of her family, as tight-lipped about her father's adultery as she is about her half-sisters’ sex lives. But after she is humiliated and punished for her own sexual exploration, Esi begins to question why women's secrets and men's secrets bear different consequences. It is the beginning of a journey of discovery that will lead her to unexpected places.
December 9, 9pm GMT Livestream panel with James Maura and Zoe Beck
"From early on, you are drawn to her mix of naivety, spunky personality and candid reflections...endearing."
— The East African
“One of the frankest literary voices...deserves a literary ovation.”
— Daily Trust
“Engaging...Esi’s circumstances makes her story relatable to all women, regardless of nationality, background, or upbringing.”
— REWRITE London
“What a lovely lovely read. I want to buy copies to gift to every young woman I know. I laughed out loud in places. I swear it's a universal African girl story”
— Zukiswa Wanner, winner of the K Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award for London Cape Town Joburg
“...I was stealing time to read between patients. An enticing and mesmerizing read. It just pulls you along, and tugs at your heart, bringing back long forgotten strong and confusing feelings. A work of great courage and commitment.”
— Doctor Afuah Laing, Founder of Obaatan Pa Free Clinic for Women
“Bisi Adjapon has addressed some of the truly difficult aspects of love and sexuality for girls and women in Ghana fearlessly and skillfully. 5 stars.”
— The Mirror
“All 414 glorious pages consumed in one night....an honest, in your face account of a little girl growing up.”
— Pages and Palette
“Unputdownable.... a book that makes you go from laughing out loud to bawling and back to laughing again.”
— Ayesha Haruna Attah, author of The Hundred Wells of Salaga
“Far more entertaining than kissing a frog who is really a prince....One of the best books this year“
— Arts and Africa
“Stunning...I spent many hours moving between out-loud laughter, gripping fear and deep annoyance and love for Esi and her father.“
— Africa in Dialogue
“...At times hilariously funny and at others deeply disturbing. ‘The Teller of Secrets’ offers a refreshing and insider perspective onto two West African societies...it is accessible and relatable to both West African and worldwide audiences.“
— Literandra, London
“Brilliant...freaking kick ass novel.“
— James Murua, Africa’s leading critic and blogger
What is it between women and frogs? There is an old fairytale about a princess and a frog, who turned out be a prince after being kissed (do not try this at home!). Bisi Adjapon wrote a book about women and frogs. This interview gives some background to Bisi and frogs.
Bisi Adjapon, the author of Of Women and Frogs is as ebullient and outrageous as one of her characters. She throws around the word sex with none of the African inborn shame that accompanies it, as ostentatiously and visibly as a hand waving down a taxi on a busy street. When she looks at you, her untamed hair floating around her like a halo, her bright lipstick slit in half by an ever-present grin, you have the visage of a woman who will never grow old.
“I needed to show that as sexual humans, girls aren’t permitted to know or understand their bodies. Adults often expose children to things while expecting children to remain ignorant. It’s a futile paradox. Children never forget experiences that affect them emotionally. I wanted to show girls going through self-discovery and ultimately consummation with all it’s attendant fears, complications, confusion and pleasure.“
When my son was in preschool at a Christian academy in Virginia, Child Evangelism Fellowship arrived to deliver the gospel to the three and four-year-olds. The presentation was illustrated by three color-coded hearts: the black heart, the red heart and the white heart. I imagine my son wiggling with excitement, sitting among the children gathered at the feet of the pink-faced, blond-haired lady turning the pages of a giant book.
The first time I saw God, I was eight years old. I had seen him plastered on posters hanging on the walls, but not inches from my face so I could trace his straight nose and mustache. My breath cut off.
In December 2015, Ebony Reigns burst onto the music scene with her hit single, “Dancefloor,” and shattered what remained of female coyness in many West Africans. Prior to that, singers like Mzbel had broken norms by openly expressing their sexuality, but none so raw.