“Why aren’t there Africans in these stories falling in love and being happy in love?”

This was a question that Kiru Taye had asked herself as she was reading works by authors like Buchi Emecheta. Wondering about the constant portrayal of “miserable” Africans and lack of “joy” in such books eventually led Taye to begin writing books that, while generally considered romance and erotica, are nonetheless books that are about Africans just “being,” “getting on,” and “being happy.”

Now, dozens of books later, Taye is well established as an author of romance and erotica stories featuring African characters whether on the continent or in the diaspora. She is a founding member of Romance Writers of West Africa, and her debut romance novella, His Treasure, won the Book of the Year at the Love Romances Café Awards in 2011. She was also awarded Romance Writer of the Year award at the 2016 Nigerian Writers Awards.

Our conversation with Taye ranged over the differences between romance and erotica, where she draws inspiration from, and perhaps most significantly, the need to reclaim and celebrate love and sexuality as part of the African literary imagination. Taye also treated us to a reading of a passage from her wildly popular Essien series.

Watch the video below for an enlightening conversation about Taye’s work as well as the important role that the genres of romance and erotica play in reminding us of our humanity. Also, if you haven’t gotten the chance to do so, watch our conversation with Nnedi Okorafor here.

Thank you, Kiru Taye, for sharing your time with us and for your invaluable contributions to African literature!