cover image No One Dies Yet

No One Dies Yet

Kobby Ben Ben. Europa, $18 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-60945-756-3

Three American gay men travel to Ghana to pay homage to their enslaved ancestors and explore the country’s queer underground scene in the audacious debut from Ghanaian book critic Ben Ben. Married couple Vincent and Scott and their constantly horny friend Elton are in Accra for the Year of Return, a 2019 government initiative encouraging tourism from Black diasporans. The trio are squired through the city and coastal forts by the novel’s primary narrators, both unreliable: Kobby, an aspiring novelist who met Elton through the dating app Man4Man, and Nana, who trawls Facebook in search of Americans who will help him get a visa. (The two regard each other with open disdain.) When local tabloids report that a serial killer is on the loose, the government responds with denials, afraid the news will scare away the “Returnees.” The men do indeed brush up against a murder, but to identify who ends up dead or why would spoil half the fun of this wildly inventive novel. Embedded within the deadly tale are interludes voiced by ghosts of the enslaved, unapologetically raunchy sex scenes, and skewering portrayals of nearly everyone Kobby encounters, including the publishers who reject his crime novel pitch and prefer fiction about the trans-Atlantic slave trade, cynical Europeans recolonizing former slave-trading outposts with resorts, and the tourists who condescend to their Ghanaian hosts while romanticizing long-past traditions. The sheer wonder of Ben Ben’s narrative design anchors the reader in the immersive maelstrom of voices. The results are propulsive and deliciously irreverent in equal measure. (Feb.)