Social media has changed the way we read, buy, sell, and talk about books. Social media is where most readers first learn about the publication of new books. It is also the go-to place for sharing ideas about books and finding community as a reader. Social media has become undoubtedly a major hub in the global circulation of books. It is thanks to culture influencers such as Bawa-Allah that African literature is visible on social media, reaching a vast community of readers, and shaping global conversations on writing and literary culture. We love how she leverages social media’s visual culture and networking possibilities in the promotion of African literature.
Lipglossmaffia began in 2011 as a personal blog and was rebranded in 2019 to center on “all things bookish and lifestyle with a literary twist.” The platform offers highlights on books from across the continent and international bestsellers as well. From the Something Bookish podcast to a stunning bookstagram page, Bawa-Allah centers connecting people to literature in a unique, fun way.
For 8 years, she has curated a list of prompts titled Something Bookish Reading Challenge. It is an initiative that inspires readers to break out of their comfort zone and explore new writing. The 2023 list is out and features 24 prompts that invites readers to consider “A Book By A North African Author,” “A Book With A Long Title,” “A Book With An Ensemble Cast Of Characters,” “A Book Inspired By Mythology, Folklore, or Legend,” and many more. Readers get to engage with Bawa-Allah on Twitter about parts of the challenge they enjoyed or struggled through, while she offers encouragement and her own musings about the titles for that prompt. The initiative is brilliant in the ways it centers curiosity and community in reading as an experience.
Bawa-Allah is known for her instagram page @Lipglossmaffia where she curates stunning book photography. She makes books look delectable with inviting flat-lays. Her grid displays books photographed against lush, leafy backgrounds. Her captions are humorous and insightful. Bawa-Allah’s instagram page is a booklover’s happy place. While digital content continues to grow and change, we appreciate Bawa-Allah for showcasing outstanding cover art and design of some of our favorite African titles.
Bawa-Allah is a dynamic creative personality and wears a variety of hats in the African literary world online and offline. She reviews books on her Something Bookish website and publishes interviews with authors. She has been a 3-time guest at the Ake Arts & Book Festival, and this year moderated a book chat conversation between Francesca Ekwuyasi and Aiwanose Odafen on their respective novels Butter Honey Pig Bread and Tomorrow I Become a Woman. These are a few of the ways in which she supports writers and celebrates their work.
Kudos to Bawa-Allah and the work (we know it’s a lot of work!) she puts into getting the message out that African literary culture is thriving and offers readers deeply meaningful reading experiences. More power to her! We look forward to all the great things she will accomplish in 2023.