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48 Notable African Books of 2018

2018 has been the year of magical abundance. Like elves in Santa's workshop, African writers and their publishers have worked hard all year to fulfill every reader's whim and fantasy.


We hope this guide inspires you to begin drawing up your New Year's reading list or gives you ideas for the perfect holiday gift for friends and family.

 

A Princess in Theory

By | Harper Collins

Fiction | 384 pages

When the scam email turns out to a legit missive from a real prince, you know you are in for a magical tale. Naledi's life as an over-worked graduate student in New York City turns upside down when she finds she is the long-lost betrothed of Prince Thabiso, crown prince of the fictitious African country Thesolo. 

Buy

A Spy in Time

By | Rare Bird Books

Fiction | 296 pages

Johannesburg is the center of a post-apocalyptic story where a spy journeys through time to solve a mystery on which the fate of the world depends. Coovadia’s blend of espionage and sci-fi creates a mind-bending tale that changes how we imagine Africa as a futuristic space.

Buy

A Stranger's Pose

By | Cassava Republic

Nonfiction | 216 pages

Iduma's recollections of his journeys to African cities depict the bewitching power of wanderlust but also the sense of loss and longing that haunts the traveler's ever-widening distance from home.

Buy

A Wall is Just a Wall

By | Amazon Digital Services

Fiction | 152 pages

Police Inspector Denja is out of work, out of money and down in his luck. This gripping story follows him as he goes down the rabbit hole of the criminal underworld where he battles old and powerful enemies.

Buy

AfroSFv3

By | StoryTime

Fiction | 186 pages

All 12 stories present the most daring imaginations of Africans in outer space. In AfroSFv3, the third installment of Ivor Hartman's famed anthology, the astronomical wildness of space bows to the African logic of world-making and storytelling.

Buy

Back to Black

By | Zed Books

Nonfiction | 256 pages

What do the Black Panthers and the Black Lives Matter Movement have in common? How do we overcome the racist residues buried deep in the fabric of society? British academic Andrew Kehinde reopens the question of resistance in black communities and the intellectual history that inspired them.

Buy

Becoming

By | Crown Publishing Group

Inspirational | 448 pages

Since Michelle Obama's book came out, it has broken all kinds of publishing records. Readers are clearly intrigued by Ms. Obama's story. The book promises an intimate look into the life of one of the world’s most powerful women.

Buy

Binti: The Night Masquerade

By | Tor.com

Fiction | 202 pages

Black girl magic meet space travel? Count us in! Binti reprises her role as defender of the peace and harmonizer of the world in the third and final part of Okorafor's award-winning sci-fi series.

Buy

Can We All Be Feminists?

By | Penguin Books

Nonfiction - Anthology | 288 pages

Chimamanda Adichie says we should all be feminist. But how might class, race, and sexual orientation complicate a woman's decision to identify as a feminist? June Eric-Udorie invites 17 writers from diverse backgrounds to address multiple ways of relating to feminist politics and ideals. 

Buy

Children of Blood and Bone

By | Henry Holt and Co.

Fiction | 544 pages

Tomi Adeyemi made a splash online when she signed a million dollar book deal. Children of Blood and Bone is the first book in the Orisha Legacy trilogy. Drawing from Yoruba mythology, Adeyemi tells the story of a girl who, at the risk of losing everything, goes on a near impossible odyssey to save the world and magic.

Buy

EDWARDSVILLE BY HEART

By | Wisdom's Bottom Press

Poetry | 95 pages

Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún’s debut poetry collection, titled Edwardsville By Heart, is a magical meeting place of travelogue, memoir, and poetry. The poems are recollections of the three years he lived in Edwardsville, teaching Yoruba as a Fulbright scholar at Southern Illinois University.

Buy

Elsewhere, Home

By | Saqi Books

Fiction | 256 pages

The collection contains 13 stories about the imagination of home as loss and desire. Aboulela is an endearing storyteller. There is a kindness in her tempered tone. The stories in this collection feel like that quiet place in the world of fiction where you can actually watch life take place.

Buy

Freshwater

By | Grove Press

Fiction | 240 pages

Fans of Ben Okri's Famished Road have found their next read in Akwaeke Emezi's Freshwater---a story about a girl crowded with multiple selves.

Buy

Friday Black

By | Mariner Books

Fiction | 208 pages

In his debut collection, Adjei-Brenyah makes it a point to mix a ton of different genres---fantasy, satire, realism, in addition to all kinds of weird and surreal elements. This is the kind of collection that grabs you by your palette, hitting you with a rush of different aesthetic sensations.

Buy

GERMAN CALENDAR, NO DECEMBER

By | Cassava Republic

Fiction - Graphic Novel | 192 pages

This stunning debut is the work of Swedish Nigerian writer Sylvia Ofili. It is a coming of age story about a mixed-race girl and her journey from Warri to Lagos to Germany. The Lagos bit of her experience is a wild tale of Nigerian boarding school shenanigans---the punishments, the chores, urban legends.

Buy

HAIR, IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR

By | Cassava Republic

Fiction - Children's Book | 28 pages

The magic of black hair is the focus of this beautifully illustrated children's book. Mylo Freeman pictures the burst of styles and cuts that make black hair a delightful and uniting aspect of black family life.

Buy

Happiness

By | Atlantic Monthly Press

Fiction | 368 pages

In Aminatta's 6th book, a fox crossing the Waterloo Bridge sets off a series of encounters and incidents in which multiple worlds collide and align in unexpected ways.

Buy

House Girl

By | Picador

Fiction | 320 pages

Donkor presents a unique take on the classic "housegirl" narrative. Belinda moves from the village to the city of Kumasi to be a house-help, only to end up in Brixton as a hired companion of sorts to a rebellious teenage girl Amma. The novel loops itself around the unlikely bond between the two girls.

Buy

House of Stone

By | W. W. Norton & Company

Fiction | 400 pages

The disappearance of a teenage boy sparks this epic tale about a couple's search for their son and the uncertain alliances they must court to get to the root of their loss. 400 pages of lightening wit, swirling with memorable characters.

Buy

Intruders

By | Picador Africa

| 125 pages

Mohale Mashigo, also known as Black Porcelain, burst into the African literary consciousness with her unforgettable novel, titled Yearning. With her first short story collection, she mobilizes all her speculative fiction chops to dissect the feeling and experience of not belonging.

Buy

KUGALI COMICS: AN AFRICAN ANTHOLOGY

By | Amazon Digital Services

Fiction - Comic | pages

If you've ever had trouble sourcing Africa comic books and graphic novels, Kugali Media's Raki Edition is a god-sent. It showcases stunning work done by African artists and writers. The multi-genre collection features historical narratives, but also contemporary and futuristic pieces. 

Buy

La Bastarda

By | The Feminist Press at CUNY

Fiction | 112 pages

Trifonia Melibea Obono made history by becoming the first Equatorial Guinean woman to have her novel translated into English. La Bastarda was originally published in 2016 but made its English debut earlier this year. It traces the path of an orphaned teen who goes in search of a father but ends up finding herself. 

Buy

La Guardia #1

By | Dark Horse

Fiction - Comic | 34 pages

A pregnant sci-fi heroine, a sentient plant, and a New York City swarming with shape-shifting alien immigrants. Okorafor is undoubtably the queen of uncharted territories when it comes to imagining future black worlds. But isn't that why her stories have become a global staple? 

Buy

Lagos Noir

By | Akashic Books

Fiction - Anthology | 224 pages

Famed Nigerian novelist Chris Abani invites 13 writers to portray Lagos from every possible perspective. Each writer brings out the dark, whimsical, and endearing side of Africa's most enigmatic city. The collection features writings by the likes of Chika Unigwe, Igoni Barret, Nnedi Okorafor, and lots more.

Buy

MALIKA: WARRIOR QUEEN

By | Youneek Studios

Fiction - Comic | 144 pages

Roye Okupe recreates 15th century West Africa in the second installment of the Malika series. Malika is a warrior queen and all round amazing figure of power. But her work as an empire builder is far from being over. As the Kingdom of Azzaz comes under new threats, she renews her resolve to protect her people.

Buy

Milk Fever

By | Uhlanga

Poetry | 97 pages

There is no easy way to write about the misadventures of young womanhood and the uncertainties of unexpected motherhood. But Megan Ross finds a voice in the experimental and layered language of poetry. Her debut collection is a surreal take on what it means to be woman today.

Buy

My Sister, the Serial Killer

By | Doubleday

Fiction | 240 pages

The quote "a true sister will stand by your side" is pushed to its darkest extreme in Braithwaite's debut novel. When Ayoola's  boyfriends turn up dead, Korede gets rid of the bodies. But this sisterly bond of murder and cover-ups is not as perfect as it seems. A delightful mix of dark, hair-raising, and funny!

Buy

NEW-GENERATION AFRICAN POETS

By | Akashic Books

Poetry | 350 pages

From joy and triumph, to grief and mourning, to the confessional and the raw, this collection of chapbooks has something for every mood and every taste. The series was established in 2014. This year's edition features works by hot new voices like Leila Chatti, Saddiq Dzukogi, Yalie Kamara, and Romeo Oriogun.

Buy

North of Dawn

By | Riverhead Books

Fiction | 384 pages

Nurruddin Farah is one of Africa's most loved novelists. His 13th novel is an intense family drama set in Norway. It tells the story of a Somali family dealing with the aftermaths of their son's ignoble death.

Buy

OLORI SUPERGAL

By | Prestige Books: imprint of Kachifo Limited

Inspirational | 115 pages

In her memoirs, Nigerian media personality Tosin “Olori Supergal” Ajibade challenges the myth of fly-by-night success. She shares her remarkable journey to becoming a media powerhouse. She is honest about the challenges she faces but also full of insights on how to overcome difficulties. 

Buy

Pentecostal Republic

By | Zed Books

Nonfiction - Scholarly | 252 pages

Nigerian sociologist Ebenezer Obadare exposes the link between the rise of pentecostalism in Nigeria and the unstable conditions of Nigeria's young democracy. Pentecostal Republic is a delightfully witty account of the toxic love affair between Nigerian mega-churches and the state.

Buy

Postcolonial Paris

By | niversity of Wisconsin Press

| 256 pages

Literature professor Laila Amine retells the story of Paris as a city built on the cultural contributions of colonial immigrants. She changes the script on who is Paris and what is Paris by exploring the novels, films, and street art of Maghrebis, Franco-Arabs, and African Americans in the famed City of Light.

Buy

She Called Me a Woman

By | Cassava Republic

Nonfiction - Anthology | 340 pages

If you've ever wondered what life was like for queer Nigerian women, here is your answer. All 25 pieces in the collection are first-hand accounts of Nigerian womxn building life and community in a climate of fear and discrimination. The stories are eye-opening but also tremendously hopeful.

Buy

She Would Be King

By | Graywolf Press

Fiction | 312 pages

Monrovia has one of the most fascinating origin stories of any African city. In her magic-infused historical novel, Moore retells the story of one of Africa's most fascinating cities through the lives of three strangers bound by the strange and secret power they all share.

Buy

Shuri #1

By | Marvel Comics

Fiction - Comic | 32 pages

If there is any author who can turn the enviable life of T'Challa's technophile sister Shuri into a wildly successful spinoff, it is Nnedi Okorafor. Enter Shuri's world of gadgets, gizmos, and rise to royal power.

Buy

Silence is My Mother Tongue

By | Indigo Press

Fiction | 208 pages

This mesmerizing story is set in an East African refugee camp. A young woman named Saba finds that, against the chaos of war and the fragility of refugee life, she must hold on to the things that matter. It's impossible not to fall in love with Saba. She brings a ton of emotional texture to the story.

Buy

SING TO THE MOON

By | Lantana Pub

Fiction - Children's Book | 40 pages

In Isdahl's beautiful book about a Ugandan boy and his great grand father, childhood is for dreaming of big and bright things like stars and supernovas. This is a delightful addition to Lantana's growing catalogue of African children's books, which boasts offerings by the likes of Nnedi Okorafor and Wanuri Kahiu.

Buy

Speak No Evil

By | Harper

Fiction | 224 pages

In his second novel, the bestselling author of Beast of No Nation leaves the battlefield for a different kind of drama --- the kind that takes place in the household. The novel captures the intrigue and betrayals that trail a conservative Nigerian father's discovery that his son Niru is queer.

Buy

The Extinction of Menai

By | Ohio University Press

Fiction | 384 pages

Facing language extinction and culture collapse, the people of Menai must come to terms with the end of the world as they know it. Publisher's Weekly gave the novel a 5 star and listed it in its best of 2018 list.

Buy

The Hundred Wells of Salaga

By | Cassava Republic

Fiction | 234 pages

19th century Ghana is brought to life with richly colored strokes in Harruna's slave narrative. The novel traces the linked fate of two women from different worlds---Aminah and Wurche. Harruna follows in Yaa Gyasi's footsteps to show us how history looks different when told through the eyes of women.

Buy

The Parking Lot Attendant

By | Henry Holt and Co.

Fiction | 240 pages

In The Parking Lot Attendant, an Ethiopian community in Boston is the setting for a dark and haunting family thriller that involves a mesmerized girl, a roguish parking lot attendant, and a disapproving father.

Buy

The Perfect Nanny

By | Penguin Books

Fiction | 240 pages

When this book was published in France in 2016, it sold 600,000 copies in about a year! It tells the story of Louise, the perfect nanny turned murderer. Set in Paris, the book opens with the murder of two little children and then works its way back through what led up to that tragic moment.

Buy

The Rise of the African Novel

By | University of Michigan Press

Nonfiction - Scholarly | 240 pages

Mukoma wa Ngugi, literature professor at Cornel University and son of one of Africa's greatest novelists, takes us back to the beginning in this powerful account of how African fiction, in its modern form, emerged from existing literary traditions and gained global significance.

Buy

The Terrible

By | Penguin Books

Fiction | 224 pages

She is the Instapoet we love, the top model we admire, and the break out literary star that inspires us. Yrsa Daley-Ward's second book is a soulful mix of prose and poetry. It tells her coming-of-age story in northwest of England.

Buy

These Bones Will Rise Again

By | Indigo Press

Nonfiction | 144 pages

This well-timed essay gives a unique take on Zimbabwe as a nation reshaping itself after a turbulent past. Blending reportage and memoir, Panashe Chigumadzi connects the dots of Zimbabwe's history using her grandmother's life as an organizing frame.

Buy

This Mournable body

By | Graywolf Press

Fiction | 304 pages

The last time we heard from Tambu was in 2006 when she appeared in The Book of Not, the sequel to Nervous Conditions. As usual, Dangaremgba pulls all the stops to lay bare Tambu's airless world and rips open the intimate psychological source of her constantly unraveling life. Keep a box of tissue close by!

Buy

Washington Black

By | Knopf

Fiction | 352 pages

A slave in a Caribbean plantation might be expected to lead a restricted life, with the exception of Wash, a eleven year-old slave boy who, thanks to a sudden change in circumstance, gets the chance to travel the world.

Buy

When Trouble Sleeps

By | Cassava Republic

Fiction | 336 pages

Amaka Mbadiwe, the sex-worker's superhero, is back! In this sequel to Easy Motion Tourist, she still has zero tolerance for powerful men who hurt women. She is still bent on taking them down, even when it means putting her life at risk. 

Buy

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