4th Estate wins four-publisher auction for 'radical' Osunde debut

4th Estate wins four-publisher auction for 'radical' Osunde debut

Fourth Estate has won a four-publisher auction for Eloghosa Osunde’s “radical and thrilling debut novel Vagabonds!

Kishani Widyaratna, editorial director, acquired British Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada and Nigeria, in physical, e-book and audio from Alba Ziegler-Bailey at the Wylie Agency. The novel will publish in hardback in spring 2022, in a co-ordinated campaign with Riverhead Books in the US.

The synopsis explains: “Vagabonds! is a tumultuous and unexpectedly joyous novel of oppression and defiance among the people and spirits of Lagos. This work remaps the city by taking us deep into the hearts, minds and bodies of its inhabitants, with the voices of Èkó (the Yoruba name for Lagos), and his loyal minion named Tatafo (meaning ‘gossip’) as our guides. They weave trouble through the city’s streets and throughout the lives of the ‘vagabonds’ powering modern Nigeria: the displaced, the queer, women and children. Vagabonds are those who inhabit transient spaces, who move invisibly, who embrace apparitions, old vengeances, and alternative realities. In this world, girls and women slip in and out of their bodies and their skins, men lose their heads and their souls; they draw in the city’s chaotic, dark energy and breathe it back out again, creating new ways of living in the process.”

The Nigerian definition of ‘vagabonds’ that opens the book is sourced from Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which was officially passed in 2014 and still stands as the law of the land. Vagabonds! is described as a tribute to all those who live their lives joyfully and unabashedly in the face of the hypocrisy of the law. The publisher said: “It is a sharp stick poking at modern Nigerian capitalism and corruption. Most of all, it is a celebration of queerness in all its forms.”

Widyaratna said: "I have not read a debut novel as fearless or as original as Vagabonds! in quite some time. It is a rare novel which deftly executes a thrilling highwire act of being dazzling, brutal, innovative, and deeply moving all in one. Eloghosa Osunde is a blazing new talent and we couldn’t be more excited to share her work with readers.”

Osunde is a Nigerian writer and visual artist, an alumna of the Farafina Creative Writing Workshop, the Caine Prize Workshop and the filmmaking and screenwriting programmes at New York Film Academy. Her short stories have been longlisted for the 2017 Writivism Short Story Prize and published in Catapult, Guernica, Berlin Quarterly and The Paris Review where she has a column, with forthcoming stories in The Georgia Review and Gulf Coast.

The author said: “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be publishing with both Riverhead and Fourth Estate next year. This book means so much to me, so I’m thankful for the opportunity to have these stories meet readers near and far, and I look forward to the road ahead!”