African Writers (Besides Chimamanda) You Should Be Reading
The world is starting to pay attention to African writing. Besides Achebe or Chimamanda, here are some other, equally talented writers that you should be paying attention to.
NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe): Born Elizabeth Zandile Tshele, her debut novel We Need New Names grew out of her Caine prize-winning story.
We Need New Names follows ten-year-old Darling from Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s repressive regime to her aunt’s house in Detroit, where she comes to live when her prospects at home-in Zimbabwe grow slim. Bulawayo’s language reveals the contrast between landscapes, as well as Darling’s sense of displacement and search for her own identity across continents. She has been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and Guardian First Book award. Buy Online here.
Lola Shoneyin (Nigeria): Her debut novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives seeks to depict polygamy from the perspective of the wives. Set in Nigeria, Lola paints an interesting perspective on such a thorny issue by speaking mainly through the wives. She attempts to build a familiar relationship between the reader and these women, by connecting us to the how, the why and the ways in which these women have managed to cope in what is a clearly difficult environment to the observer.
Taiye Selasi (Ghana/Nigeria): Her debut novel, Ghana Must Go is an immigrant story that follows a disjointed family from the shores of Nigeria, to America and Ghana, inevitably. The profound nature of death, and the lies and secrets that it consequently leaves in its wake is what gives this book its plot. Critics of the novel often accuse Ms Selasi of being verbose in her descriptions; maybe you can read it and lend us your opinion on it? Buy Online here
Teju Cole (Nigeria): He is a writer, art historian, and photographer. He contributes to New York Times, the New Yorker, the Financial Times, the Atlantic, Granta and several other magazines. His book “Open City” was featured in the past two editions of The Storymoja Hay Festival.
Before he took a Twitter hiatus, he’d engage treat his ‘tweeps’ to some Small Fates. “Small Fates are events, usually of a grim nature, animated sometimes, but not always, by a certain irony. It is not simply bad news. It is bad news of a certain kind, written in a certain way.”
Here’s what some of these look like:
“Nobody shot anybody,” the Abuja police spokesman confirmed, after the driver Stephen, 35, shot by Abuja police, almost died.
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya): Dust is a fine, compassionate novel that relishes the complexity of human relations. It is written in a language that is often beautifully observant, and is alert in its insight and sympathy. A recent winner of the Text Book Centre/ Jomo Kenyatta Proze For Literature(JKPLA) you can buy dust onlinehere