Nigerian author Samuel Kolawole’s debut novel The Road to the Salt Sea is set to publish on July 2 through Amistad, an imprint of Harper Collins. The cover for the novel just came out and it is striking in color and content!

Kolawole’s debut explores the global migration crisis all the way from Nigeria to Libya to Italy through the perspective of a hotel worker named Able God. But one day, his life is upended when he encounters a sex worker Akudo who is involved with a powerful hotel guest. Caught in a web of violence, guilt, and fear, Able must run to save himself—a journey that leads him into the desert with drug-addled migrants, human traffickers, starvation, and death.

The Road to the Salt Sea is a story of the crises of migration, survival, and the failures of the Nigerian class system. These themes are depicted well in the stunning cover that features a small stick figure man faced with a giant winding road colored red. The red road is surrounded by blue water, representing the difficult migration journey across continents.

The cover designer for Kolawole’s novel is Alicia Tatone, who remarked that her approach to book cover design in influenced by the plot of the book, in this case Able God’s migration. She commented to Debutiful:

For this project, I envisioned a clear and simple scene that I wanted to illustrate: our protagonist Able God on his journey, standing alone in the midst of an enigmatic, abstract landscape. Is it a road? Is it the sea? I wanted to leave a bit of mystery as to where exactly he is in the journey, so as not to give away too much to the reader, but it needed to be clear that this was a lonesome and dangerous odyssey.

The author himself was thrilled with the cover and remarked that the travels of the protagonist are well-represented by the winding road design:

Seeing the cover made everything feel so real, so that was exciting. We had a couple of options but chose one of the most visually striking designs that accurately illustrated the novel’s concept. The colors, while vibrant, are not too flashy. I love how the red and tributary-like pattern on the cover depicts the idea of the precariousness of the protagonist’s journey. He is not the only traveler in the novel, but the story revolves around him.

Samuel Kolawole was born and raised in Nigeria. He studied at the University of Ibadan and holds a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing with distinction from Rhodes University, South Africa. A graduate of the MFA in Writing and Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, he now teaches full-time at Pennsylvania State University, where he is a tenure track Assistant Professor of English.

Kolawole 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 fiction has been supported with fellowships, residencies, and scholarships from the Norman Mailer Center, International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, Columbus State University’s Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians, Clarion West Writers Workshop, Wellstone Center in the Redwoods, California, and Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska. He is the Founder and Director of Writers’ Studio, Nigeria’s flagship creative writing school.

Preorder The Road to the Salt Sea here.