Photo by Maxine l. Moore

Bassey Ikpi’s Literary Debut on Her Mental Health Journey Is a Call for People To See Themselves, and Others, With Genuine Empathy

We speak with the Nigerian-American writer and ex-poet about her book that challenges us to rethink mental health challenges.

Bassey Ikpi is the Nigerian-American writer whose debut book of essays is the epitome of vulnerability and honesty around the mental health conversation.

In I'm Telling The Truth, But I'm Lying, which has already landed a spot on The New York Times' Best Sellers list, we follow Ikpi as she takes readers on an exploration of her life from her formative years in Nigeria, moving to Oklahoma as a pre-teen, being a black woman, a poet, a mother and her multitude of identities through the lens of one living with the eventual diagnosis of bipolar II and anxiety.

Her name may ring a bell for those familiar with HBO's Def Poetry Jam—Ikpi made her mark with several appearances on the show and her way with prose and words still hold true with this book of essays. Pulling the reader into a gentle tide of her consciousness, truths and lies, Ikpi shakes our preconceived notions of how the mind works and what "normal" even means.

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Arts + Culture

Petina Gappah On The Caustic Wit of Her Novel, 'The Book of Memory'

The Zimbabwean author speaks about the pleasures of writing in Zimnglish and using humour to make sense of the world.

Debut novelists are not renowned for having an assured voice. For the gifted and fortunate, more often than not, the first fruit is a taste of a greater harvest to come. With a much praised book of short stories in the bag (winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2009), Petina Gappah is hardly an apprentice story teller.

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