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Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Ace of Spades (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Faridah Abike Iyimide is a twenty one year old university student from the UK best known for her debut novel “Ace of Spades.” She was a student of anthropology, Chinese and English in Aberdeen Scotland when she embarked on writing the manuscript for her million dollar debut. The novel is the story of two black students in an elite school who learn that somebody has been spreading damaging rumors about them. According to Iyimide, she was in her freshman year in college and did not have many friends given that she did not engage in the many activities of people her age such as drinking. As a Muslim, she spent much of her free time in her room with nothing to do. During this time, she watched many TV shows and binge watched series such as “Gossip Girl.” She loved her school so much but was frustrated that there were so few people who looked like her. Faridah always thought that it would have been cool if her favorite shows such as “Pretty Little Liars” had more back people in them. It was from such thoughts that she got the idea for her debut novel which she started writing after she got home from college. Faridah is a collector of strange mugs and is an avid tea drinker.

For her schooling, Faridah Iyimide went to a working class high school in South London and pretty much everyone she went to school with was either Asian or black with a similar socio-economic background. As such, writing was something of a fantasy she always had as she tried to imagine a life of extreme affluence. Once she was done writing her manuscript, she found an agent and in 2018 Usborne offered her a book deal. However, it would be two years of revision and editing before the novel was published. Macmillan grabbed the rights for the novel in the United States, where it has also caused waves. According to the author, the novel is an embodiment of the themes close to her heart such as institutional racism, diversity of thought among people of color, and homophobia which is very rampant in the black community.

“Ace of Spades” by Faridah Abike Iyimide tells the story of two black students that attend the Niveus Private Academy, one of the most exclusive schools in the country. Apart from the TV shows, the author has asserted that the novel was inspired by the need to see more black characters taking a leading role. She also draws from her obsession with casual opulence and sinister rituals common in private schools. She was also inspired by her experience having to attend college in Scotland which was very different from her school in South London. She found that her university had very little diversity which left her feeling lonely. She believed may of her peers could not get in as there were so many barriers in the way of students from working class background. This is what she wanted to explore in her novel but particularly how racism works from a structural level.

In terms of plotting her novel and publishing, she came up with a detailed 12000 word outline before she started writing. As an avid reader and watcher of mysteries, she knew what would make a great story since she had always played detective alongside the lead characters in the novels she read and shows she watched. For Iyimide, it was all about the unexpected which usually comes at the tail end of the story to make for a good payoff that the reader has been expecting. Nonetheless, she believes mystery is all about twisting perception rather than to shock. For Faridah writing was the easy part as she stayed up in her room writing outlines and then fleshing it out. When it came to publishing, things were harder given the pandemic though she was able to connect with a community of other authors that had the same struggles. While she wishes she could still go into the bookshops to marvel at her works on the shelves, it has all around been an exciting process. As a woman interested in aspects of feminism and friendships, she has worked on several more thrillers that have the characters she has always wanted to see in creative fiction. The most important thing for Faridah is that she gets to explore identity in a novel way that much of the mainstream has ignored or does not know about.

Faridah Abike Iyimide debut novel “Ace of Spades” introduces Devon and Chiamaka. They are two black students attending an elite private school even though they could not be any more different in what they want to achieve and their backgrounds. Devon is at Niveus Private Academy on a scholarship and is the son of a single mother that works three jobs to feed the family. Given his background, he tries his best to not get in trouble and spends much of his time practicing music. On the other hand is Chiamaka who has managed to become one of the most popular girls in school that comes from a rich family. The lives of the two students increasingly get entangled when they are nominated as Senior Prefect and Head Prefect respectively. While it is a promising start to the school term, an anonymous bully who calls himself Aces is determined to ruin their futures and make their senior year of high school as terrible as it could be. Even though a cursory glance shows Aces is going after many students, it is soon apparent that Devon and Chiamaka are his prime victims. The plot makes a strong case for racism but it also highlights how it may be manifested in a variety of ways. From the white beauty standards and policing of black bodies, to how it influences the prison system, it is a story that tells of how black people have it very tough. Society will often condemn people of color while the media stands by telling warped narratives or just keeping silent.

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