Welcome to Lagos

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An Official Belletrist Book PickAn American Booksellers Association Indie Next, 1 of 32 Best Books to Read This Summer “Welcome to Lagos doesn’t just give us a glimpse of Nigeria, it transports us there. Onuzo’s storytelling is masterful, her characters are irresistible, and her voice is astounding in its subtle...


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An Official Belletrist Book Pick
An American Booksellers Association Indie Next Pick, 1 of 32 Best Books to Read This Summer

Welcome to Lagos doesn’t just give us a glimpse of Nigeria, it transports us there. Onuzo’s storytelling is masterful, her characters are irresistible, and her voice is astounding in its subtle power. Onuzo stands on the shoulders of Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and from her perch offers her own fresh, but assured, view.” ―Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of A Kind of Freedom

When the army officer Chike Ameobi is ordered to kill innocent civilians, he knows it is time to desert his post. As he travels toward Lagos with Yẹmi, his junior officer, and into the heart of a political scandal involving Nigeria’s education minister, Chike becomes the leader of a new platoon, a band of runaways who share his desire for a different kind of life. Among them are Fineboy, a fighter with a rebel group, desperate to pursue his dream of becoming a radio DJ; Isoken, a sixteen-year-old girl whose father is thought to have been killed by rebels; and the beautiful Oma, escaping a wealthy, abusive husband.

Welcome to Lagos is a high-spirited novel about aspirations and escape, innocence and corruption. Full of humor and heart, it offers a provocative portrait of contemporary Nigeria that marks the arrival in the United States of an extraordinary young writer.


  • Author: Chibundu Onuzo
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Pages: 304
  • Size: 6 x 9
  • Publisher: Catapult


"Story lines and twists abound. But action is secondary to atmosphere: Onuzo excels at evoking a stratified city, where society weddings feature 'ice sculptures as cold as the unmarried belles' and thugs write tidy receipts for kickbacks extorted from homeless travelers." ―The New Yorker

"A funny, insightful celebration of contemporary Nigeria that masterfully answers Adichie’s call to rid the world of 'single stories.'” Chicago Review of Books

"Lives as varied as they are storied find themselves together in Lagos. . . . It is a true testament to Onuzo’s natural storytelling skills that she orchestrates, with humor, panache and multilingualism, the meeting of all these characters." Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Onuzo's lively, well-plotted novel summons up the great city of Lagos with all its complexity." Houston Chronicle

"An adventure to somewhere I've never been." ―Jake Tapper, The Washington Post

“Chike Ameobi may be an army officer in Nigeria but he doesn’t take orders from just anyone. When he’s commanded to take innocent lives, he sets off to Lagos where he gets involved in the midst a new scandal with a new group of misfits, all destined to make a change.” ―Parade, 1 of 20 Books to Kick Back With on Memorial Day Weekend

"In the streets of the diverse, madcap, magical, and intense city of Lagos, Nigeria, a ragtag group of folks fleeing from different circumstances find a home together, squatting in a politician’s abandoned apartment. The characters are dynamic and fascinating. . . . A remarkable and fresh book." ―Read It Forward, Favorite Reads of May 2018

"Heralds the young writer's great talent, her ability to weave together multiple story lines into one vibrant tapestry, and her gift at inhabiting myriad perspectives while maintaining the singularity of each individual voice." ―NYLON, 1 of 15 Must-Read Books for May

“Lagos as a framing device illustrates the shifting, often tenuous connections between the public and private lives of Nigeria’s citizenry, and the specificity of Onuzo’s details fully embodies each character.” ―Foreword Reviews

"Welcome to Lagos is a deftly painted, intricate portrait of a city that isn't often explored in literature, and Chibundu Onuzo takes readers on a journey to the heart of it, filling each character-driven page with some of the most fascinating scenes we've read in a long, long time." ―PopSugar, 1 of 19 Best New Books to Read in May

"Reminiscent of the work of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Chinua Achebe, Onuzo’s latest follows a Nigerian army officer who deserts his post and flees to Lagos with a band of ragtag runaways." ―PureWow, 1 of 14 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in May

“Onuzo spins a vivid and wild tale of crisscrossing lives and destinies in a city filled with injustice and opportunity, complexity and corruption.” ―Shondaland

"Welcome to Lagos is smartly written, it is filled with humor and many laugh out loud moments. The unique group of misfits coming together to do good while exposing Nigeria’s known corruption is intelligently written. Each character has their own uniqueness and strength. Author Chibundu Onuzo showed her love for her native home. Her love comes in both humor and criticism as only a Nigerian can portray." The Sistah Girl Next Door

"For a book where the city itself is just as much a character as the people it features, try this debut novel by a Nigerian author. The bustling city of Lagos serves as the backdrop for the seven main characters in this book, who are all trying to make a home and find their way in Nigeria’s largest city." ―Lux & Concord, 1 of 8 Books to Take You on Vacation

"A high-spirited novel about aspirations and escape, innocence and corruption.” ―Queens Gazette

“A novel that manages to be both savvy and heartfelt, a hopeful testament to human connection and unlikely redemption.” ―The Riveter

"A tangy Ocean’s Eleven–esque escapade that exposes class and ethnic divides in the country even as it manages to mock the West for its colonial gaze toward the African continent as a whole. Full of nuance, the story spares no one as it careens toward its satisfying finale." Booklist (starred review)

"Onuzo's novel is at once a Robin Hood tale and a cross section of Nigerian society. . . . She avoids grand defining statements about Lagos, smartly letting the predicaments of each character show how the city's lawlessness runs parallel to its bustle. . . . The novel is marked by lively storytelling throughout. A well-turned tribute to the freedom and frustrations of a diverse city." Kirkus Reviews

"In her winning U.S. debut, Onuzo anatomizes a tumultuous city and its inhabitants, from street hustlers to well-connected government ministers. . . . Onuzo’s briskly plotted novel is a rewarding exploration of the limits of idealism and transparency against widespread cynicism and corruption." Publishers Weekly

"Welcome to Lagos is a delicate, honest depiction of humanity in a country’s darkest periods. Chibundu Onuzo brilliantly captures the essence of a people and a place." ―Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes The Sun

“Overflowing with lush descriptive commentary, Welcome to Lagos doesn’t just give us a glimpse of Nigeria, it transports us there. Onuzo’s storytelling is masterful, her characters are irresistible, and her voice is astounding in its subtle power. Onuzo stands on the shoulders of Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and from her perch offers her own fresh, but assured view.” ―Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of A Kind of Freedom

"Chibundu Onuzo has written a compulsively readable book that pulsates with the energy of one of the world's greatest cities. She cracks Lagos wide open, deftly showing us the lives of the strivers, dreamers, orphans, heroes and villains who make up this world. A complex, layered portrait of a singular place that brims with a piercing, incisive affection for its subject." ―Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman

UK praise for Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo

“Heady ambience is perfectly caught in Chibundu Onuzo’s tremendous second novel Welcome to Lagos. Nigerian novelists appear to be energising the form these days, and on this showing Onuzo is leading the charge.” ― William Boyd, The Guardian

“Onuzo's writing is witty, humane and imaginative, and she describes her native city so that you can almost see it.” ―The Times

“With Nollywood-like storylines and clever turns in plot, the book paints an entertaining and funny picture of Lagos life and Nigerian politics ... impressive.” ―The Guardian

“[A] fine novel . . . worlds―rich and poor, urban and rural, privileged and powerless, Muslim and Christian, Igbo and Yoruba―collide to spectacular effect as their paths cross and power shifts hands in surprising and unexpected ways, and then does so again, and again. It is an unlikely plot, but Ms. Onuzo pulls it off, revealing the fault lines in her country’s society―or indeed those of any half-formed democracy. Though drenched in Lagosian atmosphere, the book wears its Nigerian setting lightly: it is clearly the work of a pan-African and an internationalist―and is all the better for it.” ―The Economist

"Welcome to Lagos is a love song to the city, its tone shifting from passionate to mournful depending on the singer and the moment. . . . This is a nuanced, funny and beautifully written novel." ―Times Literary Supplement

“Fantastic ... peels back the beating heart of a complex and richly beautiful country.” ―Irish Examiner

“A Hugo-esque epic.” ―Fiametta Rocco, 1843

“A joyful, irreverent look at Nigeria today. Her Lagos is vibrant, frantic, chaotic, and of the moment.” ―Guardian Books podcast

“Like Yaa Gyasi, she’s still just twenty-six―both young and annoyingly impressive.” ―Tina Daheley, BBC’s The Cultural Frontline

“[T]he novel’s success is that it is not a story about Lagos, so much as about the world in the 21st century. . . . Welcome to Lagos reveals a talent that hasn’t been dimmed by the success of [Onuzo’s] debut.” ―The National

“A dazzling road trip from the badlands of the Niger Delta to Nigeria’s sprawling and chaotic megacity. Two soldiers defy an order to shoot at civilians and abscond, picking up three other runaways in the shape of a teenage militant, an orphan girl and a fleeing housewife, all seeking a better life. On arrival in Lagos they stumble into a national scandal surrounding a corrupt government minister who has pocketed a fortune intended for the nation’s schools. Under the global media spotlight, each character faces up to a life-changing choice between morality and truth.” ―Reader's Digest

“[A]n engaging, thoughtful look at how society works and how it is viewed by both its people and outsiders.” ―The Writes of Woman

Welcome to Lagos captures and brings to life the chaos and hostility of the Nigerian city of the title . . . A portrait of contemporary Nigeria that I found difficult to put down.” ―Sarah Shaffi, Stylist


Read HERE our guest reviewer, Navidad Thelamour, interview with Nigerian novelist Chibundu Onuzo. Her first novel, The Spider King's Daughter, won a Betty Trask Award, was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize, and was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Etisalat Prize for Literature. HERE she talks about her second book, Welcome to Lagos.





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