Boost your digital library collection by adding these top-rated Nigerian authored books we share in this article. Find out more below.
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Over the decades, there have been fluctuations in the growth rate of Nigerian reading culture. The African Writers Series (launched in 1962 by Heinemann Publishers) and the Pacesetters Series (conceived in 1997 by Macmillan Publishers) treated Nigerians to a lot of books, including Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Kalu Okpi’s The Smugglers, T.M. Aluko’s One Man, One Machete and J.P. Clark’s America, Their America.
However, the reading culture in Nigeria witnessed a massive decline between the mid-1980s and the late 1990s. The collapse of the Nigerian economy in 1984 dealt a major blow to the Pacesetters Series, and whereas in the 1960s authors could sell copies of their books in multiple figures – Ogali A. Ogali’s Veronica My Daughter sold 100,000 copies – publishers no longer had the resources to even roll out multiple titles.
With the advent of audiobooks and e-books, as well as the success of authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Teju Cole, Elnathan John and Chika Unigwe, the reading culture is experiencing a resurgence of sorts. Modern publishers like Cassava Republic, Paressia Publishers and Ouida Books do their best to churn out titles year after year, and book clubs are sprouting all over the country from Lagos to Port Harcourt.
There has also been an increase in subscription to digital publishing platforms. The shift from traditional to digital media has also extended to book publishing and the reading culture. Over the years, platforms like Okadabooks, Kobobooks, Bahati Books and Bambooks have sprung up to serve the needs of people who prefer reading books on their phones to purchasing physical copies. Audiobooks are also quickly gaining traction, and traditional publishers are seeing the need to create e-versions of books.
Here is a list of 20 books written by Nigerian authors, available in electronic format, that you absolutely need to read if you love African literature, or if you love reading in general:
1. My Sister The Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
My Sister The Serial Killer is a short, darkly humourous novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends. Published in 2019, it won the 2019 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller, the 2019 Amazon Publishing Reader’s Award for Best Debut Novel, the 2019 Anthony Award for Best First Novel, and the 2020 British Book Award for Crime & Thriller Book of the Year. The novel was also longlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize.
2. Stay With Me – Ayobami Adebayo
Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything – arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, dances with prophets, appeals to God. But when her in-laws insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It will lead to jealousy, betrayal, and despair. Unraveling against the social and political turbulence of 80s Nigeria, Stay With Me sings with the voices, colors, joys and fears of its surroundings. Ayobami Adebayo weaves a devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood.
3. A Broken People’s Playlist – Chimeka Garricks
A Broken People’s Playlist is a collection of 12 stories that focus on love, the human condition, and the search for meaning. The stories are also part-homage and part-love letter to Port Harcourt (the city which most of them are set in): a man throws a living funeral for his dying brother; a teenage wannabe-DJ wants to play his first gig as his family breaks up; and a middle-aged man drunk-calls his ex-wife.
4. A Particular Kind Of Black Man – Tope Folarin
In this sweeping, powerful drama of family and identity, living in small-town Utah is a struggle for Tunde Akinola’s family, especially his Nigeria-born parents. As Tunde struggles to fit in at school, his father tirelessly chases the American dream while his lonely mother sinks deeper into schizophrenia. Tunde’s mother eventually abandons them to return to Nigeria and Tunde spends the rest of his childhood and young adulthood searching for connection—to the stepmother and stepbrother he gains when his father remarries; to his middle school’s African American students; and to the fraternity brothers at his historically Black college.
5. The Madhouse – T.J. Benson
The house at the end of Freetown Street in Nigeria’s Sabon Gari was once a sanatorium for colonists deranged from the heat and insanity of the place. Now it is home to a family whose unorthodox lives unfold into legend: Sweet Mother, an artist, her husband Shariff, a writer and soldier, and their children André and Max. From the moment his baby brother André is born, Max attaches himself to him, even dreaming the boy’s homicidal dreams. When the wayward André later pulls free from the family to join a death cult, Max must decide how far he will be drawn into his brother’s web. The Madhouse is the extraordinary tale of five people bound by blood, each searching for a way through.
6. Everything Good Will Come – Sefi Atta
It is 1971 and there is political turmoil in Nigeria, but eleven-year-old Enitan has other concerns. She is worried that her deeply religious mother will forbid her growing friendship with Sheri, the new girl next door. As the two grow up into fiercely intelligent, strong women, the novel explores whether it is better to work within the traditional system or try to tear it down.
7. Freshwater – Akwaeke Emezi
Freshwater tells the semi-autobiographical story of the protagonist, Ada, who is an ogbanje. In an impressive debut, Emezi explores Igbo heritage, spirituality and gender constructs.
8. Welcome to Lagos – Chibundu Onuzo
Army officer Chike Ameobi abandons his post after being ordered to kill innocent civilians. He is then drawn into the heart of a political scandal involving Nigeria’s education minister. Chike becomes the leader of a band of misfits and runaways who are searching for a different kind of life. Among them is Fineboy, a fighter with a rebel group, hoping to become a radio DJ; Isoken, a sixteen-year-old girl whose father may have been killed by rebels; and Oma, escaping a wealthy, abusive husband.
9. A Woman’s Body Is A Country – Dami Ajayi
A Woman’s Body Is A Country, published by Ouida Books in 2017, is a collection of forty-seven poems that dwell on a number of themes, including loss, regret, lust, friendship, seduction, loneliness, and the passage of time.
10. I Do Not Come To You By Chance – Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
Kingsley Ibe is the first son in his family, which means he has certain responsibilities. His degrees aren’t much help in finding work, but he is expected to take on the training of his younger siblings, support his parents in their retirement, and scrape together money for his beloved sister’s bride price. Without a “long-leg”—someone who knows someone who can help him in his career—Kingsley fears he will never be able to support his family. So he turns to his Uncle Boniface—AKA Cash Daddy—who is rumored to run a successful empire of email scams.
11. Dreaming Of Ways To Understand You – Jerry Chiemeke
Dreaming of Ways To Understand You is a collection of fifteen short stories that explore the complexities of human relationships. From the nightclubs in Lagos to the slums of Warri, from university campuses in Calabar to forests in Asaba, these stories take us on a journey through the lives of characters who attempt to navigate the intricacies of living in contemporary Nigeria.
12. What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky – Lesley Nneka Arimah
What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky is a collection of 12 short stories. The book explores several relevant themes, from societal expectations of women to family bonds, from disillusionment to growing up in a world that is indifferent to a given gender, from chasing dreams to simply trying to get by.
13. The Son Of The House – Cheluchi Onyemelukwe
The Son Of The House is a novel that revolves around polygamy, patriarchy in Africa and the position which most women are kept in Africa. It tells the story of Julie, a girl who was sent out by her stepmother to work as a servant. She falls in love with a boy from a wealthy family who impregnates her and then denies the pregnancy. Julie is sent back to the village where she was married to a man whose grandmother is eager to get a grandson.
14. Easy Motion Tourist – Leye Adenle
Easy Motion Tourist is a crime thriller novel set in contemporary Lagos. The book explores organised crime, prostitution, political corruption, and organ trafficking.
15. Carnivorous City – Toni Kan
Carnivorous City, published in 2016 by Cassava Republic Press, is a crime thriller set in Lagos. It tells the story of Abel, who is uprooted from his drab, peaceful life as a schoolteacher in Asaba and flung into the chaotic existence that is Lagos following the disappearance of his brother Soni, a “Lagos big boy” who leaves behind an anxious wife and an oblivious son.
16. Fine Boys – Eghosa Imasuen
Ewaen, a 16-year-old boy gains admission to study medicine at the University of Benin. He spends the next three years navigating his way through life as a teenager then subsequently, a young adult with his friends in school. Their lives are affected by cultism, a scourge in Nigerian universities in the 1990s and early 2000s.
17. My Mind Is No Longer Here – Sylva Nze Ifedigbo
Published by Parresia Publishers in 2018, this novel tells the story of three men who are frustrated with the social conditions in Nigeria and are ready to do anything in searching for greener pastures.
18. The Joys Of Motherhood – Buchi Emecheta
In this feminist classic, Nnu Ego is a Nigerian woman struggling in a patriarchal society. Unable to conceive in her first marriage, Nnu is banished to Lagos where she succeeds in becoming a mother. Nnu Ego must fiercely protect herself and her children when she is abandoned by her husband and her people.
19. Americanah – Chimamanda Adichie
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.
20. The Secret Lives Of Baba Segi’s Wives – Lola Shoneyin
Published in 2012, this novel is a perceptive, entertaining, and eye-opening novel of polygamy in modern-day Nigeria. The struggles, rivalries, intricate family politics, and the interplay of personalities and relationships within the complex private world of a polygamous union come to life in this exciting work of fiction.
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