Roxane Gay Books
Roxane Gay Books
Roxane Gay Books

And Then He Sang a Lullaby

by Ani Kayode Somtochukwu

A searingly honest and resonant debut from a Nigerian writer and queer liberation activist, exploring what love and freedom cost in a society steeped in homophobia

  • Imprint Roxane Gay Books
  • Page Count 304
  • Publication Date June 06, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6075-1
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $27.00
  • Imprint Roxane Gay Books
  • Publication Date June 06, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6076-8
  • US List Price $27.00

The inaugural title from the most buzzed-about new imprint in years, And Then He Sang a Lullaby is a powerful, luminous debut that establishes its young author as a masterful talent.

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 Kayode Somtochukwu as a voice to watch.

Tags Literary Gay

Praise for And Then He Sang a Lullaby:

A Summer/Fall 2023 Indies Introduce Pick

“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

“A compelling, mature work of narrative grace.”Library Journal, starred review

And Then He Sang a Lullaby is driven by deeply-drawn characters and a clear sense of place. The novel will resonate with readers in the current moment of rising anti-LGBTQ legislation and violence.”—Laura Chanoux, Booklist

“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

“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

“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

“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

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

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