Taduno’s Song by Odafe Atogun (Canongate, £8.99)
The exiled protest singer Taduno has been living outside Nigeria for only three months when he receives a letter from his girlfriend Lela urging him to return. When he gets back to Lagos, Taduno finds that no-one recognises him. Brutal beatings from government forces have robbed him of his distinctive voice, so he can’t prove his identity that way and all records of his existence have been erased. With Lela languishing in prison, Taduno is presented with a dilemma: continue to protest on behalf of the oppressed people of Nigeria or secure Lela’s release from prison by becoming a mouthpiece for the dictatorship. Atogun’s debut novel is a dystopian satire in which a retelling of the Orpheus myth is spiced up with fantastical and Kafkaesque elements while also invoking the memory of Nigerian musical icon Fela Kuti. As political as it is, the characters are never reduced to mere cyphers and Atogun keeps us in suspense to the very end.