Fiction can be a revealing window into cultures that are unfamiliar to us — and reading the work of an author who lives in another country or was born across the world from us can elucidate a different point of view. Whether it be a country’s political situation, the lexicon, the history, or the people, immersing oneself in the fiction of a specific nation, region, or even an entire content can provide an opportunity to better understand other places and experiences. And, as a recent New York Times article noted, this is an especially great time for literature from Africa and by authors who were born there:
The flowering of new African writers is “an amazing phenomenon,” said Manthia Diawara, a professor of comparative literature and film at New York University. “It is a literature more about being a citizen of the world — going to Europe, going back to Lagos,” he said. “Now we are talking about how the West relates to Africa and it frees writers to create their own worlds. They have several identities and they speak several languages.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Helen Oyeyemi, Ishmael Beah, NoViolet Bulawayo, and other African-born writers who have experienced success in America are all cited, including Lagos-born Teju Cole, who took to Twitter to point out something the article touches on a bit, but that deserves extra emphasis: “too many literary publishers would rather put out work by writers from Africa than work by African-Americans because in the current climate the Africans are considered more appealing for what is seen as a ‘black slot.’”
As that very necessary conversation — about a sad reality that the publishing world needs to address immediately — continues, the fact remains that an abundance of fantastic literature is coming out of Africa right now. That’s something to celebrate, so to help you do that, we offer a few other suggestions of African-born writers whose work you should seek out.