Saturday 17 December 2022

Book Review: And Then He Sang a Lullaby by Ani Kayode Somtochukwu (Contemporary Fiction)

Title: And Then He Sang a Lullaby
Author: Ani Kayode Somtochukwu
Publisher: Grove Atlantic
Publication Date: 6 June 2023
Pages: 304
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley 

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 a local cybercaf√©. 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.


And Then He Sang a Lullaby was a thoughtful read exploring the experiences of two gay characters in modern Nigeria as they tried to deal with the inherent homophobia all around them. The story was well paced and the prose engaging -- easy reading, yet still packing an emotional punch. I certainly came to care about the characters as the story progressed and was swept up in the action. Recommended for fans of emotion-packed contemporary dramas. It gets 4.5 stars from me.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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