Julie Iromuanya

Friday, April 17, 2015

Julie Iromuanya has always wanted to write books.

When she was 8 years old, she wrote her first query letter to three publishers. One of the publishers wrote back and said it was “not soliciting new works at this time.” Iromuanya recalled looking up the word “solicit” because at that age, she didn’t know what it meant.

That early rejection didn’t hinder Iromuanya from making her childhood dream a reality.

“It was such a funny thing, because I was so encouraged,” she said.

And today Iromuanya, an assistant professor of creative writing and fiction at Northeastern Illinois University, is a published author.

She will read from her first novel, “Mr. and Mrs. Doctor,” on Tuesday, April 21 at 3 p.m. at the Café Descartes located inside the Ronald Williams Library.

The event is free, open to the public and is part of the Faculty at the Café series.

“Mr. and Mrs. Doctor” tells the story of a Nigerian couple in an arranged marriage trying to begin their lives together in Nebraska amid deceit and the different challenges they experience along the way.

According to a review by Kirkus, “Against a backdrop of the micro- and macroaggressions African expats endure in the West, Iromuanya presents a fascinating and often hilarious drama of marriage, highlighting the discrepancies between who we say we are and who we really are.”

“Mr. and Mrs. Doctor” is due for release on May 12 and is currently available for pre-order via Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

“It’s really exciting to have my work out there and have people getting the chance to read it,” Iromuanya said.

Iromuanya said the story began as a character sketch for an undergraduate writing class while at the University of Central Florida. Later, as a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she came back to the story while working on her dissertation. Being a child of Nigerian immigrants, Iromuanya said she wanted to explore the story of dual identities in America.

“It was developed out of a lot of different family friends I knew about who were living two different lives: a life in America and a life in Nigeria,” she said. “ I was thinking about these dual identities and these dual cultures. During that time, I read tons of immigrant literature from different genres. I started to look more closely at their experiences, and think about what was unique about their experiences.”

Iromuanya has read some of her works at Northeastern before, but hasn’t had the opportunity to read for mostly students.

“That’s what I am really excited about,” she said.