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Ghostroots: Stories
'Pemi Aguda


A debut collection of stories set in a hauntingly reimagined Lagos where characters vie for freedom from ancestral ties.

In this beguiling collection of twelve imaginative stories set in Lagos, Nigeria, ’Pemi Aguda dramatizes the tension between our yearning to be individuals and the ways we are haunted by what came before.

In “Manifest,” a woman sees the ghost of her abusive mother in her daughter’s face. Shortly after, the daughter is overtaken by wicked and destructive impulses. In “Breastmilk,” a wife forgives her husband for his infidelity. Months later, when she is unable to produce milk for her newborn, she blames herself for failing to uphold her mother’s feminist values and doubts her fitness for motherhood. In “Things Boys Do,” a trio of fathers finds something unnatural and unnerving about their infant sons. As their lives rapidly fall to pieces, they begin to fear that their sons are the cause of their troubles. And in “24, Alhaji Williams Street,” a teenage boy lives in the shadow of a mysterious disease that’s killing the boys on his street.

These and other stories in Ghostroots map emotional and physical worlds that lay bare the forces of family, myth, tradition, gender, and modernity in Nigerian society. Powered by a deep empathy and glinting with humor, they announce a major new literary talent.


’Pemi Aguda is an MFA graduate from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. Her writing has been published in GrantaPloughsharesZoetrope, and other publications, and has been awarded the O. Henry Prize for short fiction. She is from Lagos, Nigeria, and is currently living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


"In Ghostroots, the delightful speculative conceits of the stories are elegantly, even architecturally, balanced with the gorgeous fullness of human emotion, all the hunger and longing and fear and delight of being a human being in the world. A wonderful collection from a truly gifted writer." -- Lauren Groff, author of The Vaster Wilds

"Ghostroots is a triumph. 'Pemi Aguda’s strong storytelling skills give readers the gift of realistic characters and darkly imaginative stories that creep under your skin and stay buried there. . . . ’Pemi Aguda is now among my favorite authors." -- Tananarive Due, author of The Reformatory

"A marvelously unsettling collection where the everyday strangeness of life and the uncanny rub up against each other." -- Kelly Link, author of White Cat, Black Dog

"Ghostroots is a big, strong river. Once you are caught in its currents, you flow with it no matter where it runs. And it runs through gorgeous and startling places." -- Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Good Night, Irene

[H]  W. W. Norton & Company  /  May 07, 2024

1.1" H x 8.4" L x 5.6" W (0.7 lbs) 224 pages