In far northwestern Nigeria, Dantala lives among a gang of street boys who sleep under a kuka tree. During the election, the boys are paid by the Small Party to cause trouble. When their attempt to burn down the opposition’s local headquarters ends in disaster, Dantala must run for his life, leaving his best friend behind. He makes his way to a mosque that provides him with food, shelter, and guidance. With his quick aptitude and modest nature, Dantala becomes a favored apprentice to the mosque’s sheikh. Before long, he is faced with a terrible conflict of loyalties, as one of the sheikh’s closest advisors begins to raise his own radical movement. When bloodshed erupts in the city around him, Dantala must decide what kind of Muslim—and what kind of man—he wants to be. Told in Dantala’s naïve, searching voice, this astonishing debut explores the ways in which young men are seduced by religious fundamentalism and violence.
Elnathan John was born in Kaduna, in north-west Nigeria, in 1982. He attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he obtained a law degree in 2007.
His short story "Bayan Layi", published in Per Contra, was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2013. He was shortlisted again in 2015 for his short story "Flying". His writing has been published in Sentinel Nigeria, Per Contra, Hazlitt, ZAM Magazine, Evergreen Review, and Chimurenga's The Chronic. His first novel Born on a Tuesday was published by Cassava Republic Press in 2015 and in the US Grove Atlantic in 2016. Born on a Tuesday was shortlisted in September 2016 for the NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature, Africa's largest literary award.
Elnathan John is a Civitella Ranieri Fellow (2015). He writes a weekly satirical column for the Sunday Trust newspaper and speaks regularly on Nigerian literature, media and politics.