cover image Vagabonds!


Eloghosa Osunde. Riverhead, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-33002-9

Osunde’s magnificent magical realist debut crafts a mosaic of struggle and pain in Lagos held together by Tatafo, a supernatural choruslike figure who does the bidding of “cityspirit” Eko. Tatafo observes the array of abuse, poverty, and other oppressive situations inflicted on the characters, whose hardships are largely the result of homophobia and transphobia. A young man agrees to be mute in exchange for a cushy job as driver for a black market organ harvester, an agreement that his colleague and lover tragically fails to keep. A devil avenges a girl who was sexually abused by her uncle. Spirits known as “Fairygodgirls” give people books to help them understand themselves and discover new possibilities, as with a teenage girl who reads an account of queer love by Akwaeke Emezi. Women abused by their husbands discover a way to vanish into thin air. A trans maid finds unexpected support from her employer, with whom she forms a sisterly relationship, and a lesbian couple copes with their family’s meager concessions of acceptance: “date a girl that looks like a girl. Somebody they can mistake for your friend.” The gorgeous, redemptive ending pulls off a triumphant celebration of queer survival. Throughout, Osunde crafts compassionate prose and seamlessly combines magic and grit. This is a stunning introduction to a bold new writer. Agent: Jacqueline Ko, Wylie Agency. (Mar.)