A Vision From the City of Lies: Revealing Moses Ose Utomi’s The Lies of the Ajungo

We’re thrilled to share the cover of Moses Ose Utomi’s debut novella, The Lies of the Ajungo, forthcoming from Tordotcom Publishing in March 2023. Set in a secondary world reminiscent of Saharan Africa, The Lies of the Ajungo follows one boy’s epic quest to bring water back to his city and save his mother’s life.

They say there is no water in the City of Lies. They say there are no heroes in the City of Lies. They say there are no friends beyond the City of Lies. But would you believe what they say in the City of Lies?

In the City of Lies, they cut out your tongue when you turn thirteen, to appease the terrifying Ajungo Empire and make sure it continues sending water. Tutu will be thirteen in three days, but his parched mother won’t last that long. So Tutu goes to the city’s oba and makes a deal: she provides water for his mother, and in exchange he will travel out into the desert and bring back water for the city. Thus begins Tutu’s quest for the salvation of his mother, his city, and himself.

Cover art by Alyssa Winans; Design by Cristine Foltzer

Said the author, Moses Ose Utomi:

“This cover puts me through the journey of writing The Lies of the Ajungo all over again. Just a glance and I can feel the desert heat, the sand between my toes, the weight of Tutu’s burden, the hope yet hesitation in his young heart as he realizes that it’s just him against a vast, vast world. Alyssa Winans has captured everything about this book that I love and want to share with readers.”


Moses Ose Utomi (he/him) is a Nigerian-American fantasy writer and nomad currently based out of Honolulu, Hawaii. He has an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College and short fiction publications in Fireside FictionFantasy Magazine, and more. His debut books, Daughters of Oduma and The Lies of the Ajungo will be coming out in early 2023. When he’s not writing, he’s traveling, training martial arts, or doing karaoke—with or without a backing track. You can follow him on Twitter (@MosesUtomi) or Instagram (@profseaquill).


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