In this fifth installment of our International Reading Series curated by Anderson Tepper, City of Asylum welcomes Ani Kayode Somtochukwu and Roxane Gay. In this program, Kayode, Roxane, and Anderson will discuss Kayode’s debut novel And Then He Sang a Lullaby. 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.
You can purchase your own copy of Kayode’s book, And Then He Sang a Lullaby, at City of Asylum Bookstore.
About the Artists:
Ani Kayode Somtochukwu (he/him) is an award-winning 23-year-old Nigerian writer and queer liberation activist. His work interrogates themes of queer identity, resistance, and liberation. His writings have appeared in literary magazines across Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America. Kayode’s And Then He Sang a Lullaby is the inaugural title from Grove Atlantic’s newest imprint, Roxane Gay Books.
Roxane Gay (she/her) is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, the nationally bestselling Difficult Women, the New York Times bestselling Hunger. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. Her writing appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She has several books forthcoming and is also at work on television and film projects. She also has a newsletter, The Audacity and started Roxane Gay Books (an imprint of Grove Atlantic) in Spring 2023.
About the Moderator:
Anderson Tepper is co-chair of the international committee of the Brooklyn Book Festival and a guest curator of the 2023 PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. Formerly of Vanity Fair, he writes on books and authors for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and World Literature Today. Anderson Tepper serves on the City of Asylum Advisory Board.
About Your Visit:
The in-house restaurant 40 North will be open after the reading, beginning at 5PM. Please visit Open Table or call 412-435-1111 to make a reservation.
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