List of African Novels
The days of defining African Literature within the confines of the poverty porn tradition seems to be at a distance; this year, we witnessed a surge in theme-defying works of fiction and poetry. Most of the novels that were released were from first time writers with fresh new voices that added to the already impressive collection of writers that have chosen over the years to allow their works to be classified within the African Literature Genre.
This season at Afridiaspora, we decided to compile a list of novels by African writers based on rave reviews, mentions, shortlists and long-list of major local and international prizes, as well as a few treasures that we loved, that we believe made 2015 a fantastic literary year. Enjoy!
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
Obioma’s The Fishermen is the story of an unforgettable childhood in the 1990s in the small town of Akure, Nigeria. The storyline is woven in a careful rendition with a child’s voice in a memoir-like manner such that it invokes nostalgia in the mind of any reader that may have experienced a similar childhood in a small town wherever. If African literature ever got a book that represented the careful realities of being African without necessarily portraying Africa within the specifics of the western stereotype, it was definitely Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen. Perhaps this was why The Guardian UK dubbed him the Achebe Incarnate, for his powerful use of prose and realism to exert a story that has not just moralistic power, but is also equipped with an endless humour and wit that ensures the reader is thoroughly entertained and touched.
Under The Uduala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
While many people were still recovering from the simple and yet brilliant collection of short stories from Okparanta, she decides to go novelist on us like many of the writers on this list who are first time novelist. Okparanta is the writer of the 2014 Etisalat prize shortlisted book Happiness Like Water. Under The Uduala Trees, her debut novel, is inspired by Nigeria’s folktale of war as it details the coming of age of a young girl who was born before independence and was sent away to safety when the Nigerian Civil War broke out. While away, she meets another displaced child and finds love. Okparanta’s Under The Uduala Trees uses one woman’s lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle towards the attainment of the concept of selfhood. This novel has all it takes to break your heart and piece it back together. The prose is unique and revels in an aura of simplicity.
This House Is Not For Sale by E. C. Osondu
Osondu’s debut novel is a powerful tale of family and community. It brings to life an African neighbourhood and one remarkable house, seen through the eyes of a young member of the household. Osondu’s story captures a place beyond the outside world, full of the superstitions and myths that sustain its people. His prose has the lightness and magic of a fable, and the exactness of realism. His themes are timeless and relatable. Published by Harper Collins in 2015, Osondu’s voice is powerfully original and has the ability to capture simple family moments that evokes nostalgia.
The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician by Tendai Huchu
This novel was set largely in Edinburgh and was focused on the three title characters—all Zimbabweans—living in Scotland. It centers around three very different men struggling with thoughts of belonging, loss, identity and love as they struggle to find a place for themselves in Britain.