Read an excerpt from Wake Me When I’m Gone, the second novel by Nigerian author Odafe Atogun
More about the book!
Odafe Atogun is one of the most exciting new literary voices in contemporary African writing. His debut novel, Taduno’s Song, was published to great critical acclaim in 2016, and described by Man Booker Prize-winning author Marlon James as ‘a colossal epic, disguised as a small novel’.
Wake Me When I’m Gone, his second novel, is a book about grief, love, motherhood and breaking the rules. It is out now from Penguin Random House South Africa.
Click on the link above for more about the book!
Read an excerpt from the novel, shared by Canongate Books:
The morning the letter arrived he was like a man in a shell, deaf to the voices in his head from a distant place, calling him, imploring him with old promises.
It was a dull morning with no hint of sun, no hint of rain, no hint of anything; just a dull morning that brought a letter in a stained brown envelope from his homeland, delivered by an elderly postman wearing horn-rimmed spectacles and boots twice the size of his feet.
Studying the handwriting on the envelope, his eyes lit up in recognition. But then a frown crept across his face and he wondered how a letter simply marked TADUNO –no last name, no address, just Taduno – managed to reach him in a nameless foreign town. He thought of asking the postman how he found him with no address, but because he could not speak the language of the people of that town, he merely gave a small nod of thanks and watched the elderly man drag himself away in his oversized boots until he became a speck in the distance.
The letter changed the tone of his day and he knew, even before he began to read it, that the time had come for him to go back. He had always known that that day would come, but he never suspected it would be prompted by a mysterious letter portending a vague but grave disaster. He settled into a chair by an open window and studied the empty street. He saw no movement, no life, nothing; just an emptiness that came at him in waves. A small sigh escaped him, and as the barking of a lone dog cracked the quiet neighbourhood, he adjusted his seat for a better view of the street. He saw the dog a little way off, scrawny and lonely, wandering with an invisible burden on its tired back. It was the first and only time he would see a dog in that town, and he suspected that, like himself, it must have strayed into exile from a country governed by a ruthless dictator. He felt sorry for the dog. He shook his head and began to read the letter.