Love Offers No Safety celebrates the lives of queer Nigerian men and is coming out on August 29 from Cassava Republic. Edited by Jude Dibia and Olumide F. Makanjuola, the anthology features nonfiction accounts exploring what it means to be a man and queer in the context of Nigerian societies. [Read more about it here.]
Both covers are an absolute visual delight. The African cover, in particular, is a burst of colors that delights the senses with its rich and bold palette. We love how the international cover beautifully captures the sense of freedom of queer love and intimacies that the collection aims to celebrate.Cassava Republic has always been very thoughtful and creative about their cover design, but these two covers certainly raise the bar.
In our conversation with Cassava Republic, it was clear that a lot of thought went into creating the book covers. For instance, the choice to depict two men holding hands on the international version, while using solely graphic elements for the African edition, reflects an understanding of local contexts. Cassava Republic explained that the subtlety of the African cover is aimed at ensuring the protection of readers, given the repressive anti-queer climate in many African communities:
To protect our readers, we have created two separate covers for the African and international markets. While the international cover appears more explicit and in your face, the African cover may be seen as more subtle, the aim is to protect readers from potential assault. Our hope is that this approach we will enable us to reach a wider audience while still keeping everyone safe.
The cover designer Jamie Keenan notes that he wanted the African cover of Love Offers No Safety to be all about contrasts. He likes how the “clean, hard edged, monotone sections…are at odds with the much rougher, colourful elements.” He says, “I wanted to draw people in with the nice colours and motifs and then get them to read the title and realise that it’s not all quite so pleasant.”
Co-editor of the anthology Olumide F. Makanjuola remarks that the covers represent the amalgamation of queer experiences:
Love Offers No Safety cover is bold, bright, and affirming. The two covers reflect the boldness of the contributors, their fear, joy, sadness, and life journey. This speaks to the stories and their experiences. While each story is very individual, the mix of colours denote how connected they are and reflects the emotions of the contributors.
Love Offers No Safety tells the stories of the marginalized community of Nigeria’s queer men in their own words. They include stories of love, heartbreak, tenderness, and struggle, and show that there is no one universal queer experience. It also explores what it is to be a man–how societal pressures foster toxic masculinity in society and how it limits human compassion and understanding.
Co-editor of the anthology Jude Dibia says that Love Offers No Safety‘s bold covers speak to a brighter future for Nigeria’s queer men:
Despite our attempts to deny it, we often find ourselves judging books by their covers more frequently than we would like to admit. While capturing the essence of a book solely through its cover can be challenging for readers, there is an undeniable attraction to covers that strive to make bold statements. In the case of Love Offers No Safety, the cover art exudes a sense of optimism and embodies a hopeful perspective, suggesting that despite the challenges faced by queer men in Nigeria, a brighter future awaits. This message of hope is effectively conveyed through the use of vibrant, confetti-like colours in one of the covers, accompanied by an image depicting two men joyfully holding hands and walking carefree towards the horizon.
The gorgeous covers of this anthology deserve to belong in an art museum! Preorder Love Offers No Safety here.