book cover of Hangman
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A novel by

An enthralling and original first novel about exile, diaspora, and the impossibility of Black refuge in America and beyond.

In the morning, I received a phone call and was told to board a flight. The arrangements had been made on my behalf. I packed no clothes, because my clothes had been packed for me. A car arrived to pick me up.

A man returns home to sub-Saharan Africa after twenty-six years in America. When he arrives, he finds that he doesn’t recognize the country or anyone in it. Thankfully, someone recognizes him, a man who calls him brother—setting him on a quest to find his real brother, who is dying.

Hangman, Maya Binyam tells the story of that search, and of the phantoms, guides, tricksters, bureaucrats, debtors, taxi drivers, relatives, and riddles that will lead to the truth.

This is an uncommonly assured debut: an existential journey; a tragic farce; a slapstick tragedy; and a strange, and strangely honest, story of one man’s stubborn quest to find refuge—in this world and in the world that lies beyond it.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"Daring, intellectually rich, and unsettlingly hilarious, Hangman is the rare book agile enough to balance the surreality and painfully rigid actuality of life. We have a powerful new voice in Maya Binyam, one who knows how to make a story sing." - Alexandra Kleeman

"Hangman is a gripping story of homecoming and loss, of recuperation and letting go, all of it told in a voice that is at turns ruthlessly honest and startlingly beautiful. Maya Binyam is an immensely gifted writer and every page of this deeply moving novel offers us compelling and hard-earned truths. But what remains by the end is something that resembles a loving gesture from a long-lost relative: necessary and seismic, profound and unforgettable." - Maaza Mengiste

"Hangman is a subtle and peculiar novel about subtle and peculiar things - home, exile, injustice, family, return, and life itself. Binyam has written a remarkable book - one that builds, beautifully, a world that feels true, while dismantling the world that feels real." - Keith Ridgway

"A strikingly masterful debut. With a slow, sure hand, Hangman beckons you into a zone that at first seems as clear, as blank, and as eerily sunny as the pane of a window. Then it traps you there, until you notice the blots, bubbles, and fissures in the glass-and then the frame itself, then the shatter. A clean, sharp, piercing-and deeply political-novel." - Namwali Serpell

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