Bom Boy

The Modjaji Gems edition of Yewande Omotoso’s critically acclaimed, award-winning debut novel, Bom Boy.

PRINT VERSION Buy the print version (hard copy) from Modjaji Books directly      



July 2022







Bom Boy

Leke is a troubled young man living in the suburbs of Cape Town. He develops strange habits of stalking people, stealing small objects, and going from doctor to doctor in search of companionship rather than a cure. Through a series of letters written to him by his Nigerian father whom he has never met, Leke learns about a family curse; a curse which his father had unsuccessfully tried to remove.

Abandoned by his birth mother, losing his adoptive mother to cancer, and failing to connect with his distant adoptive father, Leke—a troubled young man living in Cape Town—has developed some odd and possibly destructive habits: he stalks strangers, steals small objects, and visits doctors and healers in search of friendship. Through a series of letters written to him from prison by his Nigerian father, a man he has never met, Leke learns about the family curse—a curse which his father had unsuccessfully tried to remove. Leke’s search to break the curse leads him to strange places. Bom Boy is a beautifully crafted, complex narrative written with a sensitive understanding of both the smallness and magnitude of a single life.

Yewande Omotoso

Yewande was born in Barbados. She grew up in Nigeria and moved to South Africa in 1992. She is trained as an architect. After completing a Master’s degree in Creative Writing, her debut novel Bom Boy was published in 2011 by Modjaji Books and in the US and Canada in 2019 by Catalyst Press. It won the 2012 South African Literary Award for First-Time Published Author and was shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize in South Africa as well as the M-Net Literary Awards 2012. Bom Boy was shortlisted for the 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature and Yewande was the winner of the Africa Centre’s Artists in Residency Programme in 2014.

Her second novel, The Woman Next Door, was shortlisted for the 2017 University of Johannesburg Prize for South African Literature, the Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, and the 2018 International DUBLIN Literary Award. It was longlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and was a finalist in the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Fiction. It was published by Chatto & Windus in 2016, by Picador in the US, Ullstein in Germany, and De Geus in Holland in 2017, and by 66th and 2nd in Italy in 2018. It was published by Zoe Editions in France in 2019 and by Munhakdongne Publishing Group in Korea in 2020. Her new novel An Unusual Grief is published by Cassava Republic Press in 2021. Yewande lives in Johannesburg.

Yewande Omotoso's author page
Awards and nominations
SALA Prize for English first-time author 2012
Shortlisted for the Sunday Times fiction prize 2012
Shortlisted for Etisalat Literary prize 2012
Shortlisted for the Mnet Film prize 2012

“In this intricate and evocative novel about loss and separation, every character, exchange, sentiment, and locale are rendered with due precision. Yewande Omotoso is a remarkably perceptive writer.” —Sefi Atta, author of Everything Good Will Come

“How did Yewande Omotoso pack so much in such a slender book? Bom Boy is a remarkable exploration of history and identity, love and loss. Omotoso’s writing is honest, passionate, and compelling.” —Chika Ungiwe, author On Black Sisters Street and The Black Messiah

Bom Boy is an intricately structured literary novel that powerfully evokes family as a source of loss and struggle, but also of hope.” — Foreword Reviews

“Through three decades, two countries and multiple points of view, a complete picture of Leke’s life in the present slowly surfaces in Yewande Omotoso’s debut novel. […] Despite his quirks, Leke’s plight is curiously engaging as it speaks to the universal yearning to belong somewhere with someone.” — Shelf Awareness

“Omotoso’s concise prose captures the racial complexities of the book’s backdrop while enabling her protagonist to find his own way with her evocative plotting.” World Literature Today

“This is a novel bursting with elegance, written by a young author brimming with genuine promise. Yewande Omotoso is a stylist with a literary vision.” Nuruddin Farah, author of Links, Knots & Crossbones

“Distinctive in its tranquil tenderness, this fantastic novel reads like a lullaby, continuing to bloom in the imagination long after it has been put down.” Londi Gamadeze

“Yewande Omotoso writes this novel with perspicacity and panache. The prose is light and deft and delightful to read. Even when her distant and withdrawn protagonist Leke goes through a spell of marking time in the middle of the novel, the prose keeps one involved. I loved Omotoso’s flirtation with magic realism in some parts of the story and I look forward to more of this from her in the future. Her skill lies in the subtlety of her character creations. Omotoso is definitely an author to watch.” Janet van Eeden, Litnet

“An unusual and laudable debut… Omotoso illustrates inimitably what it means to be alone, materially and in mind, and just how thin the fabric of society is.”-Karin Schimke, Cape Times

“This Omotoso can write very well. I also love her plot.” James Murua

“This is the sort of book that you inhabit while you’re reading it and its pages feel like home. The plot is not complex in any way but the story Omotoso tells breathes with a life of its own. It’s books like these that remind you why human beings love stories.” Charles Siboto

“A moving, intelligent debut… Bom Boy is bittersweet with a pleasant, hopeful aftertaste.” Karabo Kgoleng, City Press

“Delves into the complex inner life of a shy adopted black child who lives in Cape Town’s southern suburbs.” Sibusiso Nkomo, Cape Argus

“An unusual and touching novel… Omotoso gives considerable insight into what it is like to be a migrant from the northern part of Africa, dealing with loneliness, displacement, and dislocation in a highly recognisable South Africa. It is original in style, with a serious purpose.” Jane Rosenthal, Mail & Guardian

“In a sort of dream-like fashion you are swept along with Leke as he tries to find a grip on life, and perhaps even find himself. The characters are compelling – you want to try and understand why they do the things they do.” Jen Thorpe