“What is worse? Getting jumped or not existing at all?”

50 years on from the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, When We Speak of Nothing captures what it means to be young, black, male and queer in London.

With fluid prose, peppered with contemporary slang, When We Speak of Nothing tells the tale of two friends growing up on an estate in the Kings Cross area of London. Set in 2011, against the backdrop of increasing racial tension, with the shooting of Mark Duggan leading to riots across London, the novel has resonance in today’s climate of austerity politics and Brexit-based intolerance.

Having worked in a youth centre in King’s Cross, Olumide Popoola offers an authentic perspective on social deprivation, bullying and the awkwardness around sexuality that her protagonists, Karl and Abu face living on an inner city housing estate. How do estate communities, like those near King’s Cross, remain visible in the face of mass regeneration and the development of a world that does not include them?

Shifting between London and Port Harcourt, the novel challenges our assumption of the cosmopolitan metropolis as a place of ease for queer youth, presenting Nigeria as a surprisingly tolerant place, and providing a refreshing alternative to the single story of the country as a place of terror and virulent homophobia.


London-based Nigerian-German Olumide Popoola is a writer, speaker and performer. Her publications include essays, poetry, the novella this is not about sadness (Unrast, 2010), the play Also by Mail (Edition Assemblage, 2013), the short collection breach, which she co-authored with Annie Holmes (Peirene Press, 2016), as well as recordings in collaboration with musicians. In 2004 she won the May Ayim Award in the category Poetry, the first Black German Literary Award. Olumide has a PhD in Creative Writing and has lectured in creative writing at various universities. She is available for live studio interview.


Established in Nigeria 10 years ago, Cassava Republic launched in the UK in April 2016. Our mission is to change the way we all think about African writing, by publishing prose that is rooted in the African experience in all its diversity. We publish quality literature across a number of genres: literary fiction, crime, non-fiction, children’s and romance. Many of our authors are award winners. Recent successes include Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds, winner of the prestigious John Avery 2016 award at the André Simon Food and Drink Book Awards and Season of Crimson Blossoms, winner of the NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature 2016.

A limited number of proof copies available – register your interest now!

For publicity enquiries and review copies contact: susan.foster@cassavarepublic.biz
Tel: +447710381063, +442076423087
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