As an emerging writer living in Nigeria, Kayode wrote the entirety of the novel’s first draft on his phone. Roxane received this unagented manuscript during an open submission period for Roxane Gay Books, her new imprint of Grove Atlantic, and was captured by its exquisite prose and emotional heft.
The story follows August, 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. Pressures aside, August is making friends and doing well in his classes. 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 wounds. These days he wants to love and be loved by a man who is comfortable in his own skin, who will see and hold and love him, exactly as he is. 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.