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With ‘Vagabonds!’, Eloghosa Osunde Has Created the Work of Her Dreams

A new book by Nigerian author, Eloghosa Osunde, defies characterization and is getting rave reviews. Interweaving realism and myth, it represents storytelling at its most magical and is the result of some serious soul-searching on the part of its author. A driving force in Vagabonds! is the characters and the ways their lives intersect with the themes at the heart of the book: systemic oppression, capitalism, economic inequality, anti-queer laws, and the joy of insisting on one’s personal truth in the face of it all. Each character we meet is deliciously complex: There are women of an entire community who disappear and leave their abusive husbands with a gaping aloneness, and an enigmatic fashion designer who is as flawed as she is revered. Some characters design the most exquisite ways to render destructive systems useless: Two women make a home out of love and quiet defiance, and a mother moves the world to protect her trans daughter from a queerphobic community. And sometimes, the characters are powerful and decisive spirits who decide the fate of their unknowing subjects. Eko governs the city of Lagos, and Tatafo’s gossip-mongering ties the book’s various stories together; their fallout presents a striking moral allegory. All told, Vagabonds! is a manual on rebellion.