Nigerian writer Ani Kayode Somtochukwu has won the 2024 Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction for his 2023 novel And Then He Sang a Lullaby.

Inaugurated in May 2006, this award recognizes outstanding first novels or story collections by LGBTQ authors and the winner receives a prize of $1000. This award honors the distinguished Edmund White, who won the very first Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1990.

Published by Grove Atlantic Press, Somtochukwu’s debut novel explores what love and freedom cost in a society steeped in homophobia. August is a God-fearing track star who leaves Enugu City to attend university. It’s his first semester and he is doing well in his classes and even almost has a girlfriend. There’s only one problem: he can’t stop thinking about Segun, an openly gay student who works at a local cybercafé. Their connection is undeniable, but Segun wants to love and be loved by a man who is comfortable in his own skin.

Despite their differences, August and Segun forge a tender intimacy but there is only so long Segun can stand being loved behind closed doors. And when a new, sweeping anti-gay law is passed, August and Segun must find a way for their love to survive in a Nigeria that was always determined to eradicate them.

Ani Kayode Somtochukwu is an award-winning Nigerian writer and queer liberation activist. His work interrogates themes of queer identity, resistance, and liberation. His writings have appeared in literary magazines across Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America.

Congrats to Somtochukwu on this outstanding achievement!