Cooler weather and back-to-school season calls for movie binges, hot chocolate, and cozy indoor activities—like tackling that ever-growing list of books to read. And if you’re looking to add more to your list and expand your cultural horizons, there is no shortage of brilliant African literature to sate your appetite.
Nigerian novels, with the breadth of their diversity, international prominence, and their poignancy, are a great place to start. From fantasy to non-fiction, contemporary and historical, there’s something there for everyone. Ahead are five books written by Nigerian authors that you’ll want to curl up with this fall.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
One of the first African novels to be recognized internationally, “Things Fall Apart” depicts pre-colonial life in Nigeria and Europe’s Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century through the eyes of Okonkwo, an audacious Igbo warrior. The book follows Okonkwo’s resistance of the denigration of his culture and tradition by British forces.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
With her very first published novel, Tomi Adeyemi brings us a fantastical story following a young heroine named Zélie as she fights to bring magic back to her homeland of Orïsha. She and her people who practice magic, the maji, have experienced suppression at the hands of the ruling class, the kosidáns. A coming-of-age story that addresses racism and slavery through the fictional story of the maji and the kosidáns.
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
The story of Ada, a strange girl with a fractured personalities, is narrated from the point of view of all oher “selves.” When Ada leaves for college in America, it becomes clear that something went wrong in her childhood. Emezi explores ideas of the self and existence in between Igbo lore.
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
Colorism takes center stage in this historical narrative surrounding a woman named Boy Novak who runs away from life in New York looking for something better in Massachusetts. After settling down with a jeweller and his young daughter, crisis ensues when Boy has a new daughter who is dark-skinned. Boy and her family are then forced to come to grips with the realities of life in the south and what it means to pass for white.
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Adichie’s short story collection takes place between the United States and Nigeria, similarly to Adichie’s own experience. She depicts modern middle-class Nigerian women as well as Nigerian women who are adjusting to life in the United States. Adichie explores the relationships between individuals and between Africa and the United States.
Do you have any African literature on your reading list? Have you read any of these Nigerian authors? Let us know about your favorites in the comments.