English friends who share my passion for reading often ask me about what new writing is coming out of Nigeria and I'm glad to say plenty. So here's a list in case you've been wondering what to look out for or buy. I interpret Nigerian quite broadly.....
Everything Good Will Come- Sefi Atta- An evocative rendering of the lives of two Nigerian girls as they grow up in Lagos. Challenges many preconceptions about the role of women in Nigerian society today
Purple Hibiscus- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Kambili (Let me live in Igbo) is a young girl growing up in a wealthy family in Eastern Nigeria but her life is overshadowed by her father's tyranny, his brutality against a backdrop of societal upheaval and the Catholic Church
Graceland- Chris Abani- A Nigerian Elvis impersonator recounts his life, roams from Ajegunle to Bar Beach and interspersed with recipes of traditional Igbo dishes. Edgy
Waiting for an Angel by Helon Habila - Captures the brutality and hopelessness of the Abacha military dicatorship in languid, beautiful prose that reads almost like poetry
Arrows of Rain by Okey Ndibe - Another powerful evocation of military rule in Nigeria and its effects on the lives of ordinary people. Madness looms large as a metaphor and there is a beauty to the writing that is haunting
A Squatter's Tale by Ike Oguine - As far as I know, this is the first rendering of the Nigerian immigrant experience in the US and also captures the frenzied 90s in Lagos when a new breed of buccanneer bankers in braces and red ties wreaked havoc on Nigerian society
Sky High Flames by Unoma Azuah- We follow Ofunne as she grows up from a carefree village childhood through a Catholic mission school to marriage
Beast of No Nation- Uzodinma Iweala - This Harvard educated son of the current Nigerian finance minister writes in the voice of a barely literate African boy soldier and in the process shocks with the rendering of horror in an innocent, almost pure voice.
26a- Diana Evans- Evans, half English, half Nigerian and one half of a set of twins writes of two twins growing up in Neasden, a suburb of London and of love and loss and displacement in an engaging voice
The Icarus Girl- Helen Oyeyemi - I initially dismissed this out of hand as an attempt at a half-Nigerian Harry Potter but in the end quite enjoyed this tale of a half English, half Nigerian young girl and her spirit "friend" overlaid with a sense of horror and the macabre
Other Nigerian writers to look out for- you can read their short stories on the internet- are Chika Unigwe, Ike Okonta, Ikhide Ikheloa, Victor Ehikhamenor, Tolu Ogunlesi, Lola Shoneyin, Maik Nwosu, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu and Chuma Nwokolo
Useful websites are www.africanwriters.com,www.farafina-online.com