My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (novel)

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My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
First edition (UK)
AuthorAmos Tutuola
PublisherFaber and Faber (UK)
Grove Press (US)
Publication date
Preceded byThe Palm-Wine Drinkard 
Followed bySimbi and the Satyr of the Dark Jungle 

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts is a novel by Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola, published in 1954. It is presented as a collection of related - but not always sequential - narratives.

The stories recount the fate of a small West African boy. After he and his elder brother are abandoned by his family, they flee as armed slave traders approach their village. On becoming separated from his brother, who has likely been captured by the slave traders, he unwittingly enters the bush, or wilderness. He is too young and inexperienced to know, as every hunter and traveler does, that ghosts or spirits live there, and mortals risk great peril by entering the area.

The book is written in English from the viewpoint of the main character, the young boy, and describes his surreal experiences with strange beings in a strange place. Tutuola's command of the language enabled him to modify his writing style to describe the external world and events in an authentic voice of youth and naivety.

The story is not one unbroken narrative, as other stories also appear out of sequence.

Many of the stories have the qualities of children's tales but with nightmarish or gruesome elements, similar to Grimm's Fairy Tales.

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, like his earlier The Palm-Wine Drinkard, is heavily metaphorical and autobiographical.


  1. "The Meaning of “Bad” and “Good”"
  2. "In the Bush of Ghosts"
  3. "The Smelling-Ghost"
  4. "My Life in the 7th Town of Ghosts"
  5. "My Life with Cows"
  6. "A Cola Saved Me"
  7. "At a Ghost Mother’s Birthday Function"
  8. "My First Wedding Day in the Bush of Ghosts"
  9. "On my Way to the 9th Town of Ghosts"
  10. "River-Ghosts. Gala-day under the River"
  11. "In the 20th Town of Ghosts"
  12. "In the Spider’s Web Bush"
  13. "The Short Ghosts and their Flash-eyed Mother"
  14. "Barbing Day in the Town of Short Ghosts"
  15. "I become an Aggressor for Ghosts"
  16. "The Super Lady"
  17. "In the Nameless-town"
  18. "Where Woman Marries Woman"
  19. "Hopeless-town"
  20. "On the Queer Way to Homeward"
  21. "Lost or Gain Valley"
  22. "Son Divides Us"
  23. "I meet my Dead Cousin in the 10th Town of Ghosts"
  24. "Invisible Magnetic Missive sent to Me from Home"
  25. "Bad-bye Function"
  26. "Television-handed Ghostess"
  27. "Hard to say “No” and Hard to say “Yes”"
  28. "The Future-Sign Tree"
  29. "Gladness becomes Weeping"


The title of the 1981 album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by David Byrne and Brian Eno was taken from this novel.