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Reviews for Vagabonds

by Eloghosa Osunde

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A powerful debut novel about the power of love and stories to save people shunned by society for being themselves. The tale is told in interconnected short stories held together by a chorus of “monitoring spirits” who gather the stories of the people of Lagos and deliver them to the "cityspirit," »ků. In Osunde’s book, the people of Nigeria know for a fact that spirits at a night market might take them to another space, that a group of women can summon a force to take them away from the violence in their lives, that the powerful can kill as they please, and that anyone can be arrested or killed for being themselves. The vagabonds of Lagos might be gay or lesbian, transgender, unwilling to conform to gender norms, or generally out of step with the dominant society. In “Johnny Just Come,” Aniekan changes his name to Johnny and moves from a small town to Lagos to drive for a trafficker in human organs. Johnny’s job is to drive and be silent, and he does both so well he loses his voice, his conscience, and his mind just as he discovers his love for a man named Livinus. “After God, Fear Women” shows how domestic violence becomes normalized for men and offers a kind of hope in the form of a power that carries women up into the sky. All of the stories are set in a Nigeria where magic and violence are as common as air and sunlight and outsiders can see the world more clearly than anyone else. “You can see a lot of things better from the outside, you know? For example, I can see now that, together, vagabonds are the city’s power. We’re its charge and circuit. It cannot exist without us. It stands on us….It’s why I’m telling you this story.” This clarity of vision often leads to violence and even death, but Osunde handles both with a compassionate and ultimately inspiring touch. Osunde revels in the joy of storytelling to render a city and its outsiders in all their flaws and glory. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.