Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2023. A dazzling story of modern Nigeria and two families caught in the riptides of wealth, power, romantic obsession and political corruption

Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀’s breathtaking novel shines a light on the haves and have-nots of Nigeria, and the shared humanity that lives in between.  

Ẹniọlá is tall for his age, a boy who looks like a man. His father has lost his job, so Ẹniọlá spends his days running errands, collecting newspapers and begging - dreaming of a big future.  Wuraola is a golden girl, the perfect child of a wealthy family, and now an exhausted young doctor in her first year of practice. But when sudden violence shatters a family party, Wuraola and Ẹniọlá’s lives become inextricably intertwined… 

The Booker Prize 2023
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Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

About the Author

Award-winning author Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ was born in Nigeria, and now splits her time between Norwich and Lagos
More about Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

A Spell of Good Things is an examination of class and desire in modern-day Nigeria. While Ẹniọlá’s poverty prevents him from getting the education he desperately wants, Wuraola finds that wealth is no barrier against life’s harsher realities. A powerful, staggering read

— The Booker Prize 2023 judges

Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ on writing A Spell of Good Things

I started working on it in 2013 but I took a break from it for about a year after my debut novel was published. It took about seven to eight years. The process depends on the stage I’m in with the work.  When I’m working on the first draft, my goal is usually to get to the end or a stand in for it. That is usually quite quick, easy to schedule and could take under a year.  

After that, the real work begins. I go over the book repeatedly, section by section, chapter by chapter, page by page, and often sentence by sentence. It is hard for me to plan that stage or anticipate how long it might take or what the rhythm might be like. While I mostly work on a computer, I write in longhand whenever I feel stuck. There’s usually a notebook next to me when I’m working. I use it to doodle, make notes or test out sentences. 

The impulse to write often strikes when I’m observing others. Something in a face or manner grabs my attention.  It is rare for me to write about it immediately because I can tell that I’m only glimpsing a shadow. The thing itself might stay hidden for days or even a few years. Ideas, especially the ones that become novels, come to me before I am ready for them. The wait before I write the first sentence is twofold. I wait for the figure casting the shadow I’ve glimpsed to come into view. Then, I wait for my skill as a writer to match up to the demands I feel a story has placed on me. 

Read the full interview here

A Spell of Good Things by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀