Photo credit to Thomas Langdon.

Nigerian writer Samuel Kọ́láwọlé is publishing his debut novel The Road to the Salt Sea in July 2024 with Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins. Set along the trans-Saharan migration route, the book follows a Nigerian migrant all the way from Nigeria to Libya to Italy, reflecting on the current global migration crisis.

The Road to the Salt Sea is a thrilling tale about Rufus Tacitus aka Able God, a hopeful university graduate who turns into an accidental murderer. Trying to escape from his past, he flees across the continent all the way to the Italian coast.

Read the full synopsis below:

Able God works for low pay at a four-star hotel where he must flash his “toothpaste-white smile” for wealthy guests. When not tending to the hotel’s overprivileged clientele, he muses over self-help books and draws life lessons from the game of chess.

But Able’s ordinary life is upended when an early morning room service order leads him to interfere with Akudo, a sex worker involved with a powerful but dangerous hotel guest. Suddenly caught in a web of violence, guilt, and fear, Able must run to save himself—a journey that leads him into the desert with a group of drug-addled migrants, headed by a charismatic religious leader calling himself Ben Ten. The travelers’ dream of reaching Europe and a new life in a better place is shattered when they fall prey to human traffickers, suffer starvation, and find themselves on the precipice of death, fighting for their lives and their freedom.

As Able God moves into the treacherous unknown, his consciousness becomes focused on survival and the foundations of his beliefs—his ideas about betterment and salvation—are forever altered. Suspenseful, incisive, and illuminating, The Road to the Salt Sea is a story of family, fate, religion, survival, the failures of the Nigerian class system, and what often happens to those who seek their fortunes elsewhere.

We cannot wait to get our hands on this novel about migration in contemporary times with a murderous twist! Kọ́láwọlé’s bold new voice will be a powerful addition to the African literary scene.

Samuel Kọ́láwọlé was born and raised in Nigeria, studied at the University of Ibadan, and holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from Rhodes University, South Africa. He is a graduate of the MFA in Writing and Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts and is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University.

Kọ́láwọlé was a finalist for the Graywolf Press Africa Prize, shortlisted for UK’s The First Novel Prize in 2019, and won a 2019 Editor-Writer Mentorship Program for Diverse Writers. His work has appeared in AGNI, Gulf Coast, Washington Square Review, Georgia Review, Harvard Review, The Hopkins Review, and elsewhere.

Congrats to Kọ́láwọlé! Preorder The Road to the Salt Sea here (out July 2, 2024).