Mr. and Mrs. Doctor

A novel by Julie Iromuanya

May 12, 2015 • 6 x 9 • 288 Pages • 978-1-56689-397-8

Ifi and Job, a Nigerian couple in an arranged marriage, begin their lives together in Nebraska with an outrageous lie.

Ifi and Job, a Nigerian couple in an arranged marriage, begin their lives together in Nebraska with a single, outrageous lie: that Job is a doctor, not a college dropout. Unwittingly, Ifi becomes his co-conspirator—that is until his first wife, Cheryl, whom he married for a green card years ago, reenters the picture and upsets Job’s tenuous balancing act.

About the Author

Julie Iromuanya is the author of Mr. and Mrs. Doctor (Coffee House Press), a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, the Etisalat Prize for Literature (now 9 Mobile Prize for Literature), and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize for Debut Fiction. Her scholarly-critical work most recently appears in Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism and is forthcoming in Callaloo: A Journal of African American Arts and Letters and Afropolitan Literature as World Literature (Bloomsbury Publishing). She was the inaugural Herbert W. Martin Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Dayton. She has also been a Jane Tinkham Broughton Fellow in Fiction at Bread Loaf Writers Conference, a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference, a Bread Loaf Bakeless/Camargo France Fellow, a Brown Foundation Fellow at the Dora Maar House, a Jan Michalski Fellow at “The Treehouses,” and the Eternal Vada Fellow at Sangam House. Her work has also been supported by fellowships and residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, the Ragdale Foundation, Villa Lena, and Villa Ruffieux. Iromuanya earned her B.A. at the University of Central Florida and her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she was a Presidential Fellow and award-winning teacher. She is an assistant professor in the creative writing MFA program at the University of Arizona. She is at work on a second novel, A Season of Light.

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.


“This refreshingly well-drawn debut novel is peopled with lively, engrossing characters who reflect a sophisticated understanding of human nature and relationships. 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.” Kirkus

“In agile prose, Iromuanya creates an intricate and fresh portrait of the perennial immigrant’s tale.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Julie Iromuanya’s debut novel is both keenly observational and intensely introspective. She’s one to look out for.” —Bustle

“Reading this book, I found my worldview recalibrating. . . . Ambitious in its subject matter—an arranged marriage, an ever-present Nigerian heritage—and deft in its maneuvering of point of view, Mr. and Mrs. Doctor is a staggering debut about legacy, shame, and the folly of ambition.” —Bustle

“This tale of two Nigerian immigrants pretending to live the American dream in small-town Nebraska is heartbreakingly funny and terribly sad, a remarkable feat of storytelling, in which all the characters’ isolated longings and frustrations are intimately felt, yet register on the grand tragicomic scale of human folly.” Star Tribune

“From the physical knockout punch Ifi lands on Job at the beginning of the book to the magnificent verbal one she delivers at the end, Iromuanya establishes Ifi’s place among the indelible characters of immigrant novels. While it takes Ifi the full duration of the book to come into her own, Iromuanya, by contrast, snaps readers to attention with the first paragraph of Mr. and Mrs. Doctor, announcing the arrival of a mature, distinctive and commanding voice.” —Paste

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor is an exceedingly well-crafted examination of marriage, expectation, appearances, and what happens after one’s carefully crafted idea of self has finally crumbled. Heartbreaking, occasionally wryly hilarious, and told in a spare, sensory style, this thoughtful debut novel ranks high in this year’s literary fiction.” —Masters Review

“Iromuanya tackles many subjects—marriage, race, immigration, families . . . the interplay between Job’s rigid and secretive bluster and Ifi’s attempt to build a new American life never loses its poignancy.” —New York Times Sunday Book Review

“Each of the characters falls victim, in turn, to the human weakness that we all share: the need for acceptance and approval, and to see ourselves reflected well in the eyes of others. The perennial immigrant tale of heartbreak, poverty and discrimination rings familiar in Mr. and Mrs. Doctor, even in the American heartland where we pride ourselves on friendliness and acceptance.” Lincoln Star Journal

“Raunchy, provocative and sometimes dirty, Dr. Julie Iromuanya’s debut novel Mr. and Mrs. Doctor drew gasps and chuckles from the audience.” —NEIU Independent

“Iromuanya flexes her creative muscles is in this unflinching portrayal.” Gilmore Guide to Books

“In the tradition of Andre Dubus’s House of Sand and Fog, Mr. and Mrs. Doctor is a heartbreakingly complicated story of leaving one culture and never fully entering another. A splendid debut.” —Margot Livesey

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor is a heart-rending and open-eyed tale of a Nigerian immigrant couple’s struggle to establish a life in Nebraska. Julie Iromuanya’s vision burns away the superficial veneer of America’s promise to its newest inhabitants even as it tells a story that is classic, powerful and, in its own way, open to possibility.” —David Mura

“[Iromuanya] tackles the impossible hopes attached to the American dream in her debut novel about an ambitious Nigerian immigrant who lies about being a doctor to his new wife.” Chicago Magazine

“Iromuanya’s exquisitely drawn novel centers on an arranged Nigerian marriage that has been undertaken under false pretenses.” SF Gate

“Rather than marring her novel with moral didacticism and chastising Job and Ifi for their many lies . . . [Iromuanya reveals] the very human weaknesses that we all share—the unwillingness to admit failure, and the desire to see ourselves reflected well in the eyes of others.” The Rumpus

“Translation is one of the levers of Iromuanya’s wonderful novel, which also puts to good use the storyteller’s tool kit of equivalences, false and true, inversions and reversals, all within a story that manages to make the most intimate idiosyncrasies and failures at once minutely, movingly real even as they map the comic and the tragic in a large and classical fashion.” Star Tribune

“Will Ifi and Job find their authentic selves? This is not a romance and the conclusion is a satisfying surprise.” Pioneer Press

“Iromuanya explores our contemporary idea of the American Dream.” The Riveter

“Julie Iromuanya has created a frustrating, funny, sensitive story about race, relationships and survival and how our past shapes and follows us into our future. Check out this captivating story by Iromuanya, a first time author.” —Arlington Public Library

“Iromuanya skillfully explores the cultural challenges Job and Ifi encounter within their Nebraska community, rendering a complex, rich portrait of their lives.” Publishers Weekly

“In this novel, what is familiar to [Iromuanya] becomes engaging and edifying for the reader. . . . The dexterous dialogue, nonlinear plot, shifting perspectives, and visual motifs all move earnestly.” Late Night Library

“By turns blunt and subtle, realistic yet credulity-stretching, mercilessly bleak but not without a few good laughs.” Arcadia Magazine

“A bold journey into the dark side of the American Dream. . . . Mr. and Mrs. Doctor tells a tough, complex story, but it is shot through with wit and humor, making for a surprisingly bracing read.” Lively Arts

“In Mr. and Mrs. Doctor, Julie Iromuanya constructs a richly characterized, searingly honest and often wildly funny portrayal of immigrant-of-color life in 21st-century America. Iromuanya’s brilliantly rendered narrative cuts deep into the conflicting ambitions, familial expectations and cumbersome cultural baggage of Nigerians in America.” Paste

“Iromuanya weaves this tale of a mismatched couple with dark humor and careful observation. . . Her insights into assimilation—its difficulties and pitfalls—are astute and at times, eye-opening.” BookPage

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor tells a wonderfully intricate, honest story of two strangers-turned-partners surviving the 21st century American Dream.” NewPages

“I found Mr. and Mrs. Doctor compulsive reading and kept guessing what was going to happen next. . . . Success stories often read as if they are forced, not really true. Mr. and Mrs. Doctor has a ring of authenticity about it.” CounterPunch

“This is a solid debut from Julie Iromuanya and I definitely look forward to reading more from her.” Read in Colour