And Then He Sang a Lullaby

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The inaugural title from Roxane Gay Books, And Then He Sang a Lullaby is a searingly honest and resonant debut from a 23-year-old Nigerian writer and queer liberation activist, exploring what love and freedom cost in a society steeped in homophobia.

August is a God-fearing track star who leaves Enugu City to attend university and escape his overbearing sisters. He carries the weight of their lofty expectations, the shame of facing himself, and the haunting memory of a mother he never knew. It's his first semester and pressures aside, August is making friends and doing well in his classes. He even almost has a girlfriend. There's only one problem: he can't stop thinking about Segun, an openly gay student who works at a local cybercafé. Segun carries his own burdens and has been wounded in too many ways. When he meets August, their connection is undeniable, but Segun is reluctant to open himself up to August. He wants to love and be loved by a man who is comfortable in his own skin, who will see and hold and love Segun, exactly as he is.

Despite their differences, August and Segun forge a tender intimacy that defies the violence around them. But there is only so long Segun can stand being loved behind closed doors, while August lives a life beyond the world they've created together. And when a new, sweeping anti-gay law is passed, August and Segun must find a way for their love to survive in a Nigeria that was always determined to eradicate them. A tale of rare bravery and profound beauty, And Then He Sang a Lullaby is an extraordinary debut that marks Ani as a voice to watch.

About the Author

Ani Kayode is an award-winning Nigerian writer and queer liberation activist. His work interrogates themes of queer identity, resistance, and liberation. His writings have appeared in literary magazines across Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America.

Praise for And Then He Sang a Lullaby: "Nigerian writer Ani's auspicious debut chronicles the hope and pain of two queer students as they embark on a forbidden relationship at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka . . . This timely and striking love story resonates with authenticity."--Publishers Weekly

"And Then He Sang a Lullaby interrogates love, secrecy, and a revolution in Nigeria . . . The novel shifts between [August and Segun's] perspectives, revealing how religion, self-repression, colonialism, tradition and nonconventional relationships impact them both. August is pulled between his desire to be a good son, his pining for other men, and his fears of persecution and alienation; this leads to heart-wrenching scenes revealing longing, hesitance, and internalized shame. In the novel And Then He Sang a Lullaby, a man learns to love and accept himself despite dire circumstances and violent intolerance."--Aleena Ortiz, Foreword Reviews

"I'm in awe of the way Ani Kayode Somtochukwu writes into the knot of love, bringing forth the steely tenderness of queer desire amidst great peril. This isn't just a beautiful story, it's deeply needed and liberating."--Saeed Jones, author of Alive at the End of the World

"This moving debut is a touching queer coming of age story, a poignant romance, and, most affectingly, a damning indictment of the hate and homophobia that are all too prevalent in the modern world."--Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind

"And Then He Sang a Lullaby is a beautifully-drawn book, tender and moving. I adored being in the embrace of Segun and August, as they navigate the unaccepting world around them and their longing for one another. Ani Kayode Somtochukwu writes with an ease and a wisdom that belies his age. This is exactly the kind of writing that makes your heart soar and whimper in equal parts."--Kasim Ali, author of Good Intentions

"In stunning, luminous prose, Ani Kayode Somtochukwu captures how it feels to carry both the love and burden of family, and what it costs to bear the weight of revolutions -- the ones happening inside of us and beyond. A beautifully written, captivating debut!"--Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

"After reading this courageous, heart-in-mouth debut about the lives and loves of young gay Nigerians I can't wait to see what Ani Kayode Somtochukwu writes next."--Patrick Gale, author of Mother's Boy

Publisher: Roxane Gay Books
Pub date: June 06, 2023
304 pages
Format: Hardcover