Spotlight on “The Road To The Salt Sea” by Samuel Kọláwọlé

by LitStack Editor

The Road To The Salt Sea is a searing exploration of the global migration crisis that moves from Nigeria to Libya to Italy, from an exciting new literary voice.

The Road To The Salt Sea and author Samuel Kolawole

About The Road To The Salt Sea

As wrenching and luminous as Omar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise and Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West.

Able God works for low pay at a four-star hotel where he must flash his “toothpaste-white smile” for wealthy guests. When not tending to the hotel’s overprivileged clientele, he muses over self-help books and draws life lessons from the game of chess.

But Able’s ordinary life is upended when an early morning room service order leads him to interfere with Akudo, a sex worker involved with a powerful but dangerous hotel guest. Suddenly caught in a web of violence, guilt, and fear, Able must run to save himself—a journey that leads him into the desert with a group of drug-addled migrants, headed by a charismatic religious leader calling himself Ben Ten. The travelers’ dream of reaching Europe—and a new life—is shattered when they fall prey to human traffickers, suffer starvation, and find themselves on the precipice of death, fighting for their lives and their freedom.

As Able God moves into the treacherous unknown, his consciousness becomes focused on survival and the foundations of his beliefs—his ideas about betterment and salvation—are forever altered. Suspenseful, incisive, and illuminating, The Road to the Salt Sea is a story of family, fate, religion, survival, the failures of the Nigerian class system, and what often happens to those who seek their fortunes elsewhere.

Source: Publisher
ISBN: 9780063050853
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 07/02/2024

Praise For The Road To The Salt Sea

“In his fine debut novel, The Road to the Salt Sea, Samuel Kọláwọlé gifts us the story of Able God, a conflicted but determined young Nigerian man who makes the dangerous journey from West Africa to Libya, where he crosses the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean into Europe. In bringing to life Able God’s story, Kọláwọlé shows us why African lives matter and shows us that the continent teems with millions of Able Gods, people full of promise and potential who can help build a better world.”—Jeffery Renard Allen, author of Fat Time and Other Stories and Song of the Shank

“I cannot think of another time in my life when I have come across a new writer as profoundly talented as Samuel Kọláwọlé. And his profound talent has brought us a beautifully rendered, brutal novel told with great empathy and heart. The Road to the Salt Sea has all of the markings of a masterful and enduring work of literature. And I get the feeling that Kolawole is just warming up.”—Julianna Baggott, bestselling coauthor of Which Brings Me to You and author of Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders

The Road to the Salt Sea is a stirring odyssey through the global migration crisis, from Nigeria to distant shores, where dreams collide with a brutal reality. Able God is a luminous and complex character who you will not soon forget.”—Jai Chakrabarti, author of A Play for the End of the World and A Small Sacrifice for an Enormous Happiness

“Heart-breaking and educational, The Road to the Salt Sea is an unforgettable and moving tale of what it takes to survive with dignity and to make this tumultuous, unfair world our home.”—Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, international bestselling author of The Mountains Sing and Dust Child

“Brutal, vivid, and powerful, The Road to the Salt Sea is a pulsating piece of art that crawls inside you and refuses to let go. Samuel Kọláwọlé is a fearless writer.”—Eric Nguyen, author of Things We Lost to the Water

“In The Road to the Salt Sea, Samuel Kọláwọlé hasn’t so much as written a book as he takes the reader on a journey—a perilous and eye-opening odyssey. And like any great journey, you are not the same when you reach the end. Powerful, powerful work.”—Rion Amilcar Scott, author of The World Doesn’t Require You

“Kọláwọlé’s portrait of moral degradation is memorable, as Able God is forced to abandon his virtues one by one for the sake of survival. … He’s one of countless refugees seeking a new life, but his trials are singular and harrowing. … A bracing, well-paced story of migrant desperation.”—Kirkus Reviews

About Samuel Kọláwọlé, Author of The Road To The Salt Sea

The Road to the Salt Sea
Photo: Mercedes Jones

Samuel Kọláwọlé was born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria. His work has appeared in AGNI, Georgia Review, The Hopkins Review, Gulf Coast, Washington Square Review, Harvard Review, Image Journal, and other literary publications. He has received numerous residencies and fellowships, and has been a finalist for the Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize, shortlisted for UK’s The First Novel Prize, and won an Editor-Writer Mentorship from the Word. 

He studied at the University of Ibadan and holds a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing with distinction from Rhodes University, South Africa; is a graduate of the MFA in Writing and Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts; and earned his PhD in English and Creative Writing from Georgia State University. He has taught creative writing in Africa, Sweden, and the United States, and currently teaches fiction writing as an Assistant Professor of English and African Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania.

You can find and follow Samuel Kolawole on his website, on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Threads, and X.

Similar Titles

Other LitStack Resources

Be sure and check out other LitStack Spotlights that shine a light on books we think you should read.

As a Bookshop, BAM, Barnes & Noble,, Amazon, and Envato affiliate, LitStack may earn a commission at no cost to you when you purchase products through our affiliate links.

It’s Almost Time for Football!

Prime Video

You can find and buy the books we recommend at the LitStack Bookshop on our list of LitStack Recs.

The Road to the Salt Sea

Related Posts