Most Nigerians don’t read. This is sad. Books are perhaps the most fascinating and mind-bending inventions in history. They let you dream, and feel and witness wonders and emotional magic that will most likely change the way you think about life.As surprising as it might sound, Nigeria boasts a wide spectrum of gifted writers; the literary, the weird, the fantastical. Below I gist about them in grave detail.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The brightest Nigerian on the literary fiction scene at the moment. She has been called "the most prominent" of a "procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature" Her latest book “Americanah” deals with racial issues and immigration. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus received wide critical acclaim; it was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book. Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, named after the flag of the short-lived nation of Biafra, is set before and during the Biafran War. It was awarded the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction.
Taye Selasi: A Ghanian-Nigerian photographer and author of Ghana Must Go, a vast family drama spanning generations and locations. In 2005, The LIP Magazine published "Bye-Bye, Babar (Or: What is an Afropolitan?)"-- Selasi's seminal text on Afropolitans. Selasi also wrote "The Sex Lives of African Girls" to meet it. The story, published by Granta in 2011. In 2013 she was included on the Granta list of 20 Best Young British Writers.
Helen Oyeyemi: Easily the oddest of this bunch. She wrote her first novel, Icarus Girl, when she was 18. She has swiftly followed with Mr. Fox; a surrealist book about a writer and his muse, White IS For Witching. Oyeyemi is an original voice, blending dark spiky gothic with the mellifluous rhytms of Nigerian culture, while still dealing with deep issues like race, sexuality, self.
Nnedi Okorafor: An out-of-this-world amazon, with waist long dreadlocks and a sickeningly fertile imagination (as you can see I’m obviously smitten by her) . She writes world-class fantasy and her first adult novel; Who Fears Death, won the World Fantasy Award. Her young adult novel, Akata Witch (republished in Nigeria as What Sunny Saw In The Flames) is a revelation of how diverse and rich Nigerian literature could become beyond the stately walls of literary fiction. A collection of short stories; Kabu Kabu will be released this year, and her second adult novel, Lagoon is slated for a 2014 release. (Sidenote: It’s about a flipping alien invasion. in Lagos.)
*Lauren Beukes: Though Ms. Beukes is not Nigerian, her genre-blending is breaking ground in speculative fiction and even more importantly, African literature. Her second novel, Zoo City, is a sprawling urban fantasy that explores the human condition in painful detail all the while grounding it in gritty fantasy. Her latest book, The Shining Girl features a time-travelling serial killer who stalks ‘shining girls – women who are full of potential’. Beukes’ debut Moxyland is a technothriller set in a future where consumerism has become rabid. Her next novel is Broken Monsters.
Grab a book today.
(I’d recommend either Akata Witch or Zoo City)