Exploring repression of racial identity in The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney

biracial children in lone-parent families


  • Aicha Pavy Nottingham Trent University


biracialism; alienation; Postcolonialism; identity; bildungsroman


The bildungsroman novel The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney by Okechukwu Nzelu identifies Nnenna’s unstable identity due to several factors such as her not knowing the Igbo language and her biracialism which worsens the tensions with her mother, Joanie. She resolves this by exploring Nigerian culture, such as learning Igbo and Nigerian cuisine. Her father feels alienated because he was brought up in Nigeria which still held colonialist beliefs about England being superior. Her mother suffers from oppression in being a young white single mother and struggles to fit in. Nnenna slowly embraces her racial identity and becomes more confident in herself.