Five debut Nigerian novels to read in 2015 – By Ogo Okafor
Nigeria is an acknowledged giant in world literature. Whilst Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are the usual suspects that may come to mind, new faces are continuously emerging on the literary scene with bracing new ideas and fresh new novels.
Ahead of the Africa Writes book and literature festival at the British Library this weekend, we take a look at Nigerian authors, already critically acclaimed in the short story, poetry and essay writing genres, who are releasing their debut novels this year.
Blackass by A Igoni Barrett
Winner of the BBC World Service Short Story competition in 2005, Barrett’s second collection of short stories Love Is Power, or Something Like That published in 2013 was met with much praise from critics. His first feature length novel tells the hilarious story of Lagos-born Furo Wariboko who wakes up one morning to find that he has become a white man but with a plump black ass. Barrett’s book is a daring and inventive take on attitudes towards race in Nigerian society.
Butterfly Fish by Irenosen Okojie
Okojie’s writings have previously appeared in publications such as The Observer and Kwani literary magazine. She was a selected artist for the 30 Nigeria House international Project at Theatre Royal Stratford East during the London 2012 Olympic Games. Her novel tells a gripping tale that takes us on a journey with main character, Joy, as she deals with the sudden death of her mother. As her protagonist unfolds the mystery behind an inherited brass warrior’s head from a king in eighteenth century Benin, and a beautiful familiar woman floating in her photographs, Okojie’s story unearths a complicated past filled with family secrets, political upheaval, love and hope.
This House is Not for Sale by E. C. Osondu
Osondu won the 2009 Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story Waiting. His latest work centres on a house in an African neighbourhood owned and ruled by the business-minded patriarch Grandpa, a complex character capable of benevolence and cruelty, and home to his wives, children, grandchildren, and those in his service. This collection of stories covers the lives of the house’s inhabitants and is a captivating tale of an African community with gossiping neighbours, violence, magic and a curse placed by the building’s former occupants.
Satans and Shaitans by Obinna Udenwe
Udenwe is one of the most published young short story writers in Southern Nigeria. His first novel was published just before the start of this year in November 2014 telling the story of two powerful men, Chief Donald Amechi and world acclaimed televangelist, Chris Chuba against the backdrop of the on-going terrorist threat in Nigeria. The reader, at first shocked by Chuba’s compliance in arranging the murder of his daughter following her romance with Amechi’s son, is pulled into the mystery when the hired killers die in a car crash before completing the task, yet his daughter is still found dead. Who killed her?
(Title to be revealed) by Elnathan John
Occasional bad boy of African literature, John’s first book is a coming-of-age story about a boy named Dantala whose diary entries provide a window into life as it is lived in Northern Nigeria. The political satirist with a popular and sometimes controversial Twitter account is shortlisted for the 2014 Caine Prize for Flying.
Barrett, Okojie, Osondu and John will speak at “˜New Nigerian Fiction’ at the Africa Writes festival.