#BookReview And Then He Sang a Lullaby by Ani Kayode Somtochukwu @PGCBooks @groveatlantic @roxanegaybooks #AndThenHeSangaLullaby #AniKayodeSomtochukwu #PGCBooks Title: And Then He Sang a Lullaby

Author: Ani Kayode Somtochukwu

Published by: Grove Press, Roxane Gay Books on Jun. 6, 2023

Genres: General Fiction, LGBTQIA

Pages: 304

Format: Hardcover

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 10/10

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, 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.


Review:

Pensive, absorbing, and exceptionally heart-wrenching!

And Then He Sang a Lullaby is a tragic, beautiful tale that sweeps you away to Nigeria and into the lives of two boys, Segun and August, one who is confident in his sexuality and not ashamed to be a gay man while bearing all the hatred and violence faced by that decision, and the other who is torn, ashamed and struggling to come to grips with his sexuality but who ultimately can’t resist what his heart truly wants.

The prose is evocative and expressive. The characters are layered, tormented, and vulnerable. And the plot is an exceptionally impactful coming-of-age tale of life, loss, family, friendship, grief, guilt, denial, secrets, heartache, culture, prejudice, homophobia, violence, and love.

Overall, And Then He Sang a Lullaby is one of those books you never forget. It’s raw, timely, powerful, and heartbreaking. It’s an incredible debut by Ani Kayode Somtochukwu that everyone should have to read, and which ultimately reminds us that to love and be loved is one of humanity’s most fundamental needs and to quote Mahatma Gandhi’s iconic words that perhaps we should all remember a little more often, “Where there is love there is life.”

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

        

 

 

Thank you to PGC Books for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Ani Kayode Somtochukwu

Ani Kayode Somtochukwu 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.

A note on naming: Following Nigerian naming conventions, family names come first in the name order, followed by the given first and “middle” names. This author’s family name, corresponding to a “last name” in most European and American names, is Ani.

Photo by Ileleji Prince.

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