Photo credit: Portable Press.

What book by an African author needs to be made into a movie ASAP?

Following the recent news that the rights to Maaza Mengiste’s rave-review-receiving The Shadow King have been acquired by Atlas Entertainment, Brittle Paper readers responded enthusiastically to a tweet we sent out asking which African novel should also hit the big screen.

The majority of the responses pointed to well-received contemporary African literature published within the last decade. These included:

  1. I Do Not Come to You by Chance (2009), by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani (suggested by @MahlapeThabiso)
  2. Measuring Tie (2010), by Helon Habila (suggested by @estelleokunlola)
  3. The Secret Life of Baba Segi’s Wives (2013), by Lola Shoneyin (suggested by @MahlapeThabiso)
  4. The Sculptors of Mapungubwe (2013), by Zakes Mda (suggested by @lwanie)
  5. Kintu (2014), by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (suggested by @literarygangsta)
  6. Under the Udala Trees (2015), by Chinelo Okparanta (suggested by @thatidomagirl)
  7. The Yearning (2016), by Mohale Mashigo (suggested by @MkhululiAfrika)
  8. Stay with Me (2017), by Ayobami Adebayo (suggested by @Avese22) – read an excerpt of Adebayo’s novel here
  9. My Sister the Serial Killer (2018), by Oyinkan Braithwaite (suggested by @dr_ffoo) – read excerpts of Braithwaite’s novel here
  10. The Hundred Wells of Salaga (2018), by Ayesha Harruna Attah (suggested by @MahlapeThabiso)
  11. The Gold-Diggers (2018), by Sue Nyathi (suggested by @MkhululiAfrika)

There was also, of course, a demand for Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus (2003) to be adapted into a film (suggested by @Ethereal_ilo).

Some Brittle Paper readers reached back further in time for African books published in the 80s and 90s:

Maps by Nuruddin Farah

— Katrina Daly Thompson 🏳️‍🌈 ☪️ ✍️📚 (@putawaytheglobe) October 26, 2019

Ancestors by Chenjerai Hove and The Famished Road by Ben Okri.

— Cynthia Marangwanda (@cynthiamarang) October 25, 2019

Others suggested books by authors well-established in the African literary canon: Chinua Achebe’s 1966 A Man of the People (suggested by @gaston_makweta), Buchi Emecheta’s 1979 The Joys of Motherhood (suggested by @JKAnowe), and Ayi Kwei Armah’s 1979 The Healers (suggested by @anjoudad). Among these, one reader offered a casting suggestion:

The concubine with @GenevieveNnaji1 as Ihuoma.

— Gatundu Girl 🇰🇪 (@mathitu_wairimu) October 25, 2019

Genevieve Nnaji did not respond to the suggestion that she star in a movie based on Elechi Amadi’s 1966 book.

Some readers offered reasons for why the books they chose should be made into movies:

The Broken River Tent by @mpushntabeni would make for some clever storytelling.

Perfect Imperfections by @makanakam has saucy secrets and an interesting perspective.

Vagabond by @MadamAfrika for a travel documentary that’s not the average white person going around Africa.

— Rémy Ngamije (@remythequill) October 25, 2019

The Book of Memory, Petina Gappah. It felt so visual whilst reading it 💛

— Amara Amaryah • ♒️ • UK poet + blogger (@Amara_Amaryah) October 25, 2019

Second Class Citizen. I want to cry while watching it.

— Tony-Francis (@obynofranc) October 25, 2019

@obynofranc’s vote for Second Class Citizen (1974) by Buchi Emecheta makes her one of two authors to have two different books of theirs suggested for film adaptation by Brittle Paper readers.  The other author was K. Sello Duiker, whose Thirteen Cents (2000) and The Quiet Violence of Dreams (2010) were recommended by @anathijay and @Manofcolor_ respectively.

Even more interesting were three book-to-film suggestions that Brittle Paper Readers agreed upon: The Hairdresser of Harare (2010), by Tendai Huchu; Small Country (2016), by Gael Faye, and Blackass (2015), by A. Igoni Barrett.

A Brittle Paper Reader also responded enthusiastically to a suggestion by Nollywood icon Stella Damasus.

Brittle Paper Readers were also attuned to the potential of different genres to be made into films. A couple of Brittle Paper Readers thought that crime thrillers would make fantastic movies: @itu_molefi suggested Angela Makholwa’s Red Ink (2007) and Black Widow Society (2013), whereas @lwanie suggested Mukoma Ngugi’s Nairobi Heat (2009). @kilianfrancis suggested a book that could be a documentary: How to Win Elections in Africa: Parallels with Donald Trump (2018), by Chude Jideonwo and Adebola Williams. Sara-Jayne King, @thisisSJKing, suggested her own memoir, Killing Karoline (2017):

Additionally, there were suggestions from Brittle Paper Readers for books that had yet to be translated into English: @Ras_8ra3 suggested the Swahili novel Kusadikika (1951), by Shabaan Robert, and @DrNamayala suggested the thriller Mimi Na Rais (2019), also in Swahili. And one reader, @estelleokunlola, suggested the e-book A Conspiracy of Ravens (2016), by Othuke Ominiabohs.

Finally, there was one suggestion that would make for a great movie-in-verse adaptation, the way Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted into film:

Song of lawino

— natasha chilenge (@ChilengeNatasha) October 25, 2019

We hope that at least some, if not all, of these wonderful books reach the big screen soon!