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David Olusoga. Credit: Getty Images-Contributor.

The Nigerian-British historian and filmmaker David Olusoga is making a documentary on African literature for the BBC. The feature, which will be released in 2021, will focus on the works of, among others, Buchi Emecheta, Ayi Kwei Armah, Chinua Achebe, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Olusoga, who is Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester, shared the news in a feature in The Guardian inviting authors to share their new year’s reading resolution.

Next year I’m making a documentary about African literature for the BBC, so I’m looking forward to rereading novels I first read as a teenager: Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen, Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Weep Not, Child by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o.

My own writing is non-fiction, so my pile of books to read in 2020 is dominated by history titles. At the very top is William Dalrymple’s acclaimed The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company. When I get a holiday I’m planning to read We by the Russian novelist Yevgeny Zamyatin. Reading Dan Jackson’s The Northumbrians, I was reminded that Zamyatin had based aspects of the dystopian future society he creates in that novel on my home town of Newcastle, where he spent time during the first world war. As a historian the one genre I never allow myself to read is historical fiction. But I gleefully break that rule when a new Hilary Mantel novel comes out. So like a lot of people I am counting down the days to the publication of The Mirror and the Light, the final book in the astonishing Wolf Hall trilogy.

Born in Lagos to a Nigerian father and British mother, Olusoga studied slave history at the University of Liverpool and worked as a journalist before joining the BBC in 2005, producing history programs for television. For his 2016 book Black and British: A Forgotten History, he was awarded the Longman-History Today Trustees Award and the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize. He is also the author of The World’s War, and of The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism, co-authored with Casper Erichsen.

This is an exciting development and we look forward to it.

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