Timothy Ogene

‘A very funny, intelligent, deliberately and engagingly resistant, and moving piece of writing’ Amit Chaudhuri

A ‘recovering writer’ – his first novel having been littered with typos and selling only fifty copies – Frank Jasper is plucked from obscurity in Port Jumbo in Nigeria by Mrs Kirkpatrick, a white woman and wife of an American professor, to attend the prestigious William Blake Program for Emerging Writers in Boston.

Once there, however, it becomes painfully clear that he and the other Fellows are expected to meet certain obligations as representatives of their ‘cultures.’ His colleagues, veterans of residencies in Europe and America, know how to play up to the stereotypes expected of them, but Frank isn’t interested in being the African Writer at William Blake – any anyway, there is another Fellow, Barongo Akello Kabumba, who happily fills that role.

Eventually expelled from the fellowship for ‘non-performance’ and ‘non-participation,’ Frank Jasper sets off on trip to visit his father’s college friend in Nebraska – where he learns not only surprising truths about his father, but also how to parlay his experiences into a lucrative new career once he returns to Nigeria: as a commentator on American life…

Seesaw is an energetic comedy of cultural dislocation – and in its humour, intelligence and piety-pricking, it is a refreshing and hugely enjoyable act of literary rebellion.


ISBN: 9781800750180

Published: August 4, 2022


ISBN: 9781800750173

Published: November 4, 2021


Reviews for Seesaw

‘A very funny, intelligent, deliberately and engagingly resistant, and moving piece of writing’ – Amit Chaudhuri

‘A witty and warm satire…Ogene sticks it to the literary classes as our hero negotiates the complexities of the cultural exchange between cosmopolitan Africa and the western world’ – Jamal Mahjoub, author of The Fugitives

‘This send-up of modern academia is good knockabout fun‘ – John Self, The Times

‘A wickedly funny and utterly disruptive novel that offers us a lens through which to see ourselves and society, without filters’ – Ukamaka Olisakwe, author of Ogadinma: Or, Everything Will Be All Right

‘A witty, percipient, and brilliant novel’ – Jumoke Verissimo, author of A Small Silence

‘A playful and lacerating satire on the codes the black immigrant needs to satisfy in order to curry favour with a self-styled progressive institution in America’ – Tomiwa Owolade, UnHerd

Thought-provoking and funny‘ – Daily Mail

‘A refreshing look at aspects of American culture and politics through the eyes of a Nigerian scholar visiting Boston’ – Helon Habila, Guardian

‘Really loved Seesaw‘ – Georgina Godwin, Monocle 24

‘A brilliantly meta satire about literary culture, race, class, not writing – the spoofing of academic language and the unreliable narrator’s escapades are cracking me up and making me cringe in equal measure’ – Jen Calleja, The White Review Books of the Year


Timothy Ogene

Timothy Ogene was raised in the outskirts of Port Harcourt in southern Nigeria. He has since lived in Liberia, the UK and the US, where he is a Lecturer in African literary and cultural studies at Harvard. Seesaw is his second novel.