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In 1962, four years after the successful publication of Things Fall Apart, its British publishers Heinemann Educational Books began the African Writers Series (AWS)—a series of books by African writers packaged to give international voice to the continent’s literature in English. The series published paperback books by most of the major voices of the day: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Steve Biko, Ama Ata Aidoo, Nadine Gordimer, Buchi Emecheta, Okot p’Bitek, and more. Some of the works were translated from other languages—Swahili, Zulu, Sesotho, Luganda, French, Portuguese—into English. The AWS created a platform for addressing colonial and postcolonial injustices; its books were required reading in universities and schools across the continent; and it generally helped shape the emergence of African literature as a category with important stakes in the global literary conversation. Until 1972, Chinua Achebe was the series’ advisory editor. After a difficult period in the 1980s saw the series produce only one or two new titles per year, and the reorganisation that followed in the 1990s, the AWS was relaunched by Pearson Education in 2011, having published more than 273 books in total.

And now the books are available for affordable downloads on Nigeria-based book retail juggernaut OkadaBooks. The AWS books on OkadaBooks include:

  • A Grain of Wheat​ by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
  • The Concubine by Elechi Amadi
  • Second-Class Citizen is Buchi Emecheta
  • The River Between, Weep Not, Child and Devil on the Cross by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
  • The House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera
  • How Shall We Kill the Bishop and Other Stories by Lily Maburu
  • Labyrinths by Christopher Okigbo

To see all the available books, visit OkadaBooks.

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Otosirieze is Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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