A new batch of African-born writers is crashing onto the literary scene, and receiving international acclaim. Here are 12 new-generation African writers not only to watch for, but to seek out and read.
Sources: flavorwire.com, bu.edu, amazon.com, aminattaforna.com, picador.com, guardian.com
This Egyptian novelist worked as a scriptwriter for the Arabic version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” before turning to serious fiction writing. His book, “Being Abbas el Abd,” was written in 2003. Alaidy studied minimalist writing under the great American author, Chuck Palahniuk.
In her early 30s, NoViolet Bulawayo is the first black African woman to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Zimbabwean Bulawayo’s 2013 debut novel, “We Need New Names,” is a critically raved coming-of-age story. Bulawayo earned a master’s degree in fine arts from Cornell University, and a fellowship at Stanford University, both in the U.S. She is working on a memoir.
Born in Nigeria, Osondu was a copywriter before turning to serious writing. He won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2009. Besides having his short stories appear in major journals such as Guernica and The Atlantic, Osondu published a novel, “This House is Not For Sale.” He is a professor at Providence College in Rhode Island, U.S.
When Oprah calls your name, you have done something with your art. Uwem Akpan’s 2009 novel, “Say you’re One of Them” was chosen for Winfrey’s book club. Born in Nigeria, Akpan was ordained as a Jesuit priest before earning his master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Michigan. With an array of writing prizes under his belt, he now serves the priesthood in his home country.
Born in Nigeria in 1984,raised in London, and now living in Prague, Oyeyemi is one of the youngest and most promising of Africa’s new generation of scribes. Her first critically acclaimed novel, “The Icarus Girl,” was published before she was 19. A graduate of Cambridge University, Oyeyemi has written three more novels, including her Somerset Maugham Award-winning “White is for Witching” (2010).
Born in Sudan and now living in Qatar, Aboulela writes predominately in English about minority issues, especially in her birth country. She won the Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story, “The Museum,” and has published three novels — “The Translator” (1999), “Minaret” (2005), and “Lyrics Alley” (2011). All of them were shortlisted for major literary prizes including the Orange Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Award.
Nigeria has talent. Unigwe was born in Southeastern Nigeria in 1974, and now lives in Belgium. Writing in both English and Dutch, her novels include “De Feniks” (2005), her first English-language novel, “On Black Sisters Street” (2011), and “Black Messiah” (2014). Unigwe also writes poetry and essays.
Born in Scotland, Forna spent most of her years growing up in Sierra Leone. She has also lived in Thailand, Iran, and Zambia. Her novels about love, war, and friendship include “The Devil That Danced on the Water” (2003), the Orange Prize-shortlisted “The Memory of Love” (2011), and “The Hired Man” (2013).
Born in Sierra Leone but raised in Nigeria and England, rising star Olufemi Terry won the Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story, “Stickfighting Days.” A graduate of the University of Cape Town’s Master’s in Creative Writing program, Terry worked as a journalist in Uganda and Somalia before turning to fiction writing. He is working on his first novel.
Hailing from Cape Town, Mgqolozana, 31, is a Mandela Rhodes Scholar and the author of three novels. They include the IMPAC Dublin Award-shortlisted “A Man Who is Not a Man” (2009), “Hear Me Alone” (2011), and “Unimportance” (2014).
Born in Ethiopia, Dinaw Mengestu immigrated with his family to the U.S. when he was 2. He writes about the African diaspora. His first novel, “The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears” (2008) explores a refugee living in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Columbia University’s master of fine arts program. In addition to writing fiction, Mengestu has reported for political journals on conflicts in Uganda and Darfur, South Sudan.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977 to Igbo parents. Her first novel, “Purple Hibiscus” (2003) was met with rave reviews. Her second work, “Half of a Yellow Sun” (2006) about the Biafran War, cemented her as a world literature figure. Her third book “Americanah” was placed on the New York Times list of the 10 Best Books of 2013.