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.
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.