It’s been a year since Vagabonds!, the debut novel by Eloghosa Osunde, the Nigerian writer and multidisciplinary artist, was released to the world.
Vagabonds! is a novel set in Lagos, describing the city through the eyes of a being, Tatafo. The characters and how their stories interact with the central themes of the book – systemic oppression, capitalism, economic disparity, anti-queer laws, and the exhilaration of standing up for one’s personal truth in the face of it all – serve as the narrative’s primary motivators. Every person or character encountered is deliciously complex; there are women from a whole village who vanish, leaving their violent spouses with a gaping loneliness, and a mysterious fashion designer who is both admirable and flawed.
Some characters come up with the most artistic ways to make destructive systems ineffective: With mutual love and quiet defiance, two women create a home, and a mother changes the environment to shield her trans daughter from a queerphobic society. The main characters are strong spirits that make decisions that determine the fate of their ignorant subjects. Lagos is governed by the spirit Eko, and Tatafo’s slanderous behavior connects the book’s different tales together. The result is a powerful moral allegory. Vagabonds! is a book about rebellion.