In the bustling streets and cloistered homes of Lagos, a cast of vivid characters—some haunted, some defiant—navigate danger, demons, and love in a quest to lead true lives.
As in Nigeria, vagabonds are those whose existence is literally outlawed: the queer, the poor, the displaced, the footloose and rogue spirits. They are those who inhabit transient spaces, who make their paths and move invisibly, who embrace apparitions, old vengeances and alternative realities. Eloghosa Osunde's brave, fiercely inventive novel traces a wild array of characters for whom life itself is a form of resistance: a driver for a debauched politician with the power to command life and death; a legendary fashion designer who gives birth to a grown daughter; a lesbian couple whose tender relationship sheds unexpected light on their experience with underground sex work; a wife and mother who attends a secret spiritual gathering that shifts her world. As their lives intertwine—in bustling markets and underground clubs, churches and hotel rooms—vagabonds are seized and challenged by spirits who command the city's dark energy. Whether running from danger, meeting with secret lovers, finding their identities, or vanquishing their shadowselves, Osunde's characters confront and support one another, before converging for the once-in-a-lifetime gathering that gives the book its unexpectedly joyous conclusion.
Blending unvarnished realism with myth and fantasy, Vagabonds! is a vital work of imagination that takes us deep inside the hearts, minds, and bodies of a people in duress—and in triumph.
About the Author
Eloghosa Osunde is a Nigerian writer and artist. An alumna of the Farafina Creative Writing Workshop, the Caine Prize Workshop, and the New York Film Academy, she has been published in The Paris Review, Gulf Coast, Guernica, Catapult, and other venues. Winner of the 2021 Plimpton Prize for Fiction and the recipient of a Miles Morland Scholarship, she is a 2019 Lambda Literary Fellow and a 2020 MacDowell Colony Fellow.
Advance praise for Vagabonds!:
“You don’t read this novel. You swan dive into its sea of gods and monsters, lost girls, violent boys, and well-behaved people both righteous and wicked. And when you finally surface, that sound will be you, gasping in wonder.” —Marlon James
“Spectacular . . . Vagabonds! brought me to tears because it gave me a world in which my country could be home again.” —Akwaeke Emezi
“A triumph of a book. In Vagabonds! you will discover queer people finding ways to love each other in a society that outlaws queerness, and an explosive portrait of Nigeria that will blow your mind—in prose that feels so alive it practically vibrates off the page. A masterpiece.” —Lidia Yuknavitch
“A feast of a book, a marvelous ode to spirits and outsiders that is irreverent (and painfully funny) while being serious enough to drill a hole in one’s chest. There is nothing in the world like this book.” —Lesley Nneka Arimah
“Vagabonds! offers a dazzling, hypnotic portrait of lives lived on the margins. Through Eloghosa Osunde’s supreme imagination, the binary of reality and fantasy is shattered in poetic, kaleidoscopic color.” —T Kira Madden
“Full of surprising, tender, biting language, Eloghosa Osunde’s Vagabonds! sets a stage where gods play personal games with human lives. For its shape-shifting images, for its honesty, for the opportunity to sit with joy and discomfort—both necessary mortal things—this novel astounded me.” —Dantiel W. Moniz