Book Size: 5.25" x 8"

Pages: 224

Format: Hardback & Paperback

ISBN: 9781566568920 HB
ISBN: 9781566569668 PB

Imprint: Interlink Books

Edition: 1

Release date: 01/09/12


A Bit of Difference


Paperback $ 8.25 | Hardback $ 13.75

“This book is an example of the rewards of small moments and understated expression… Sefi Atta deserves attention, both for what she says and for how she says it.” — David Maine, Pop Matters

About this book

At thirty-nine, Deola Bello, a Nigerian expatriate in London, is dissatisfied with being single and working overseas.

Deola works as a financial reviewer for an international charity, and when her job takes her back to Nigeria in time for her father's five-year memorial service, she finds herself turning her scrutiny inward. In Nigeria, Deola encounters changes in her family and in the urban landscape of her home, and new acquaintances who offer unexpected possibilities. Deola's journey is as much about evading others' expectations to get to the heart of her frustration as it is about exposing the differences between foreign images of Africa and the realities of contemporary Nigerian life. Deola's urgent, incisive voice captivates and guides us through the intricate layers and vivid scenes of a life lived across continents.

With Sefi Atta's characteristic boldness and vision, A Bit of Difference limns the complexities of our contemporary world. This is a novel not to be missed.


About the author

Sefi Atta was born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1964. She is the author of the novels, Everything Good Will Come, Swallow, A Bit of Difference, The Bad Immigrant, and The Bead Collector; a collection of short stories, News from Home; Sefi Atta: Selected Plays; and a children’s book, Drama Queen. Atta co-wrote a forthcoming Netflix original movie based on her novel Swallow and her play Death Road was a semifinalist for the 2021 National Playwrights Conference. She has received several literary awards, including the 2006 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa and the 2009 Noma Award for Publishing in Africa. Her radio plays have been broadcast by the BBC and her stage plays have been performed internationally. She divides her time between the United States, England and Nigeria.


“This detailed novel from Atta (Everything Good Will Come), winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature and NOMA Award for Publishing in Africa, features 39-year-old Deola Bello, a Nigerian financial reviewer who works for an international charity in London. Her job takes her back to Nigeria just as her family holds her father’s five-year memorial service. She had not been home for those five years, so while there she is observant and active, coming to numerous realizations that challenge and change her. The novel addresses various social issues, including intercultural expectations and HIV, but is far from preachy. Verdict: Atta’s characters are multidimensional, with Deola’s voice particularly impressive, and the vividly painted events feel real. Throughout, Atta successfully evokes intense emotion. Recalling Rula Jebreal’s Miral, this work will appeal to all readers of contemporary African literature.” — Library Journal

“Atta, winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature for Everything Good Will Come (2006), delivers on the promise of her well-received early work with this breakout which is at once an American successor to classic Nigerian literature and a commentary on how the English-speaking world reads Africa. Lagos born Deola Bello enjoys her job in the London office of an international charity organization, but sees how her home country is sold abroad and is all too aware of the Western attitudes that cling to her African friends, like the intellectual Bandele and the born-again Subu, while shaping the perception of her English schoolfellows and American colleagues. But unlike Bandele, Deola still considers herself Nigerian, and a trip home to visit her widowed mother and testy, troubled siblings- all coping with the legacy of their autocratic father- provides Atta with the opportunity to examine the realities of modern African life, from HIV to the upwardly-mobile Diaspora. Like Teju Cole’s Open City, Deola’s story is low on drama but rich in life, though Atta’s third-person voice makes less for a portrait of a mind in transit than a life caught in freeze-frame, pinned between two continents and radiating pathos. Wholly believable, especially in its nuanced approach to racial identity, the story feels extremely modern while excelling at the novelist’s traditional task: finding the common reality between strangers and rendering alien circumstances familiar.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review and featured author interview)

“This book is an example of the rewards of small moments and understated expression… Sefi Atta deserves attention, both for what she says and for how she says it.” — David Maine, Pop Matters

“We see too little writing from Africa, particularly from women. Prize-winning author Sefi Atta shows here how a small difference can go a long way. Deola is Nigerian, forty something and bored with her job at a London aid agency. She is also caught between African and Western expectations. She takes a trip back to Africa and gets pregnant- with the fear of AIDS. This novel is about the clash of cultures, but also the hybrid self that results. Strong stuff and well told.” — Lucy Sussex, The Sydney Morning Herald

“Atta’s splendid writing sizzles with wit and compassion. This is an immensely absorbing book.” — Chika Unigwe, author of On Black Sisters Street

“An up-close portrait of middle-class Nigeria exploring the boundaries of morals and public decorum. Pitched between humor and despair, with stripped-down, evocative prose, A Bit of Difference bristles with penknife-sharp dialogue, but its truths are more subtle, hiding in the unspoken. Ultimately, A Bit of Difference explores — with a hint of mischief- the problem of how to look like you have no problems when you have abundant problems- the universal problem of the socially-motivated classes.” — Nii Parkes, author of Tail of the Blue Bird

“Sefi Atta’s prose is as clear as water and just as vital. This novel of complex psychologies speaks at close range in a near whisper. Writers of casually accomplished novels rarely need to shout.” — Colin Channer, author of Waiting in Vain and The Girl with the Golden Shoes