This week, we are celebrating the queen of Nigerian romance fiction, Emem Bassey, who is truly making the genre more inclusive by championing plus-size women in her books. Over the past few years, she has published a startling number of romance novels and is a testament to the growing genre of African romance within African literature.

Emem Bassey loves romance in all its forms. Her romance is garnished with sprinkles of other genres. She writes sexy romance featuring plus size heroines. She started writing at age 17 and never looked back. Emem staunchly believes that the world is already full of tragedies so she writes to entertain and lighten the heart.  She lives in the South of Nigeria (Akwa Ibom State).

In a conversation with us, Bassey said she believes that her work has revolutionized African literature and especially the field of romance by bringing in an inclusive angle. For many years, Bassey had not come across plus-size women as protagonists of novels. Even in movies, a plus-size woman is always the sidekick or made to lose weight before she is regarded as beautiful and worthy of the hero’s attention, Bassey adds.

But this is not the case with Bassey’s books, which not only acknowledge but whole-heartedly celebrate plus-size women:

In my works, plus size women are the main characters all day, every day! One story at a time, I’m making people aware that body size is not limiting. I’ve had plus size heroines in physical scenes, fighting, shooting guns, running, dancing, and winning.

My stories make plus size women aware of their self worth, beauty, sensuality, their strengths, while boosting their confidence, encouraging them to be the best versions of themselves. That’s revolutionary in a society that insists on seeing plus size women as sloths and ugly. I have created an attention demanding sub-genre under the romance genre.

However, Bassey remarked that the most outstanding challenge she has experienced in writing the romance genre in Nigeria is people regarding writers of romance as unserious and delusional. She mentioned a brief anecdote where a man told her that she was deceiving women with her stories, while another married woman said to her that she doesn’t read romance because it’s unrealistic and a waste of time.

Bassey adds that this sentiment toward romance paints a disingenuous portrait of Nigeria, both to Nigerians as well as foreigners around the world:

Unfortunately, our country is saturated with suffering, corruption and lack. Most people expect that a writer should focus on those tough issues, not love and romance. I think it’s detrimental that the majority of Nigerian citizens tilt towards the negative variables, giving it validity. Of course, selling romance in such an atmosphere requires special strength.

This has spilled to how foreigners view Africa. Most literary works that win foreign awards mostly portray Africa in war, poverty, disease, and lacking basic amenities. This one-sided narrative has trended for eons, which makes romance stories from Africa difficult to be accepted by foreign literary bodies.

We have included below a list of 21 romance titles by Bassey. These include the first books of her many and illustrious series, and some of her standalone books. But, of course, this is not an exhaustive list and there are many of Bassey’s books that are available online and in bookstores in Nigeria.

Enjoy this peek into Bassey’s oeuvre and we hope that your add some books to your Kindle cart ASAP!