8 Books By Nigerian Authors We’re Excited To Read This Year

Featuring Bolu Babalola, Chinelo Okparanta & more

The world of African Literature is no doubt vibrant and intentional. Each year books from African authors based in the continent and her diaspora, go on to become bestsellers and influential titles, shining light on several aspects of their culture and ultimately revealing the writers as great practitioners of the craft.

Last year was particularly rewarding for lovers of African Literature. Not just getting served with breathtaking titles, important awards also went to authors. Some of the biggest news included the Nobel Prize for Literature, which was awarded to the Zanzibar-born Abdulrazak Gurnah; the South African Damon Galgut also won the Booker Prize for his astoundingly beautiful novel The Promise and in France, the Senegalese-born Mohamed Mbougar Sarr won the Prix Goncourt, considered as the country’s most prestigious literary award.

All these confirm what we’ve known for a long time: African writing is a global force. With 2022 underway, the scene was set for an array of titles to go out into the world and perform brilliantly as usual. Today, on the commemoration of World Book Day, we’re highlighting some of the most anticipated titles that are expected to be released this year. Across the genres of fiction, poetry and nonfiction, these are reads from Nigerian authors you’ll want to keep an eye out for.


Release Date: May 24, 2022


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The Tamil-Nigerian Akwaeke Emezi is an absolutely prolific writer, publishing books in various genres since the release of their monumental debut, Freshwater. They’re putting out three books this year, including the young adult novel Bitter and Content Warning: Everything, their debut collection of poetry.

Making a return to the novel form, You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty is forthcoming this May from Atria Books. It’s been described as a romance novel, following the story of Feyi Adekola who’s trying to come to terms with her husband’s death five years later, when she meets a man at a party who makes her want to live again. However, they’re some grey areas within this supposedly timely union, as Feyi’s grief turns within her with the force of a familiar foe and she must eventually reconcile what she desires for herself. Anyone who’s read Akwaeke knows her writing, at the basic sentence level, is a delight and there’s no reason why this title shouldn’t be typically brilliant.


Release date: July 19


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Few books published last year got as much buzz as Bolu Babalola’s Love in Colour, a short story collection lauded for its vivid characters as much as its intriguing storylines and setting. Consequently, the British Nigerian author became one of the year’s revelations, eagerly waited on for her forthcoming works.

Not wasting any time, Babalola is following up with the release of Honey and Spice, her debut novel. Forthcoming from William Morrow, it’s a humour-laced book about the various shades of love, especially the murky field that is young love. Kiki Banjo is a host of popular student radio show Brown Sugar who’s taken it upon herself to make sure the women of the Afro-Caribbean Society at Whitewell University don’t succumb to messy situationships. In a twist of fate, she’s embroiled in an affair which doesn’t turn out to be what she expected.


Release date: March 15


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Over the years, Eloghosa Osunde has emerged as one of the most promising literary voices from the continent, particularly with the short story form which she wields so mightily. “Good Boy”, published in The Paris Review, ranks high among the best stories I’ve read in recent years. All over Osunde’s gift for spare, poetic language is evident, peppered as well with nuances of the Nigerian pidgin English in a style that’s rare among contemporary authors.

Her forthcoming debut, Vagabonds!, is a collection of intertwined short stories which draws from the magical realism style of Ben Okri and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Banding a diverse cast of characters, the book shows an underrepresented side of Lagos, whether through the story of a lesbian couple, a fashion designer who gives birth to a grown woman, or a driver with the supernatural power to bring people to life or make them die. It’s an eccentric book which attains measure through the closely controlled style of Osunde’s.


Release date: August 2

The writer and visual artist J K Chukwu holds an MFA in literary arts and was a 2019 Lambda Fellow. Her debut work is this forthcoming novel from Harper Collins. Quite anticipated for a while, the story’s set in a college and whose protagonist, Sahara, is a queer half-Nigerian.

Sahara has it tough with the racial abuses she’s subjected to at school, leading her to lean forcefully on the friendships she nurtures with a number of Black friends. When these friends begin dying, with no pattern other than the fact they’re Black, Sahara sets out to investigate what happened to The Unfortunates—what the dying undergrads are called—and in the process uncovers something much larger.


Release date: April 7


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This forthcoming book is titled Breaking Stereotypes of Modern Africa and is a riveting critique of the cultural stereotypes usually attributed by the Western world about Africa. Since Binyavanga Wainana’s seminal essay “How To Write About Africa”, writers from the continent have continued to adopt a simultaneously inwards and outwards gaze, offering biting opinions on the contemporary world by depicting the unique nuances of particular African countries or cultures.

Funny and insightful, the seasoned culture journalist who was born in Chicago and raised in Lagos makes great points for the diversity of Africa, pulling the political and personal into an enjoyable book. He’s attentive and expressive, whether dissecting the colonial heritage of African countries or contributing to the banter over which one has the best Jollof rice.


Release date: June 2

The debut novel Stay With Me marked Ayobami Adebayo among the most gifted storytellers of her generation, exciting readers within the continent and beyond. Since that breathtaking tale of Yejide and her husband Akin, the writer’s next book has been eagerly anticipated, no doubt promising a lot of quality.

Forthcoming from Canongate in the UK, fans of Adebayo won’t have to wait for much longer. In June, her second book will be published and the descriptions and blurbs have been tantalizing. Following the two-character lead of her debut, A Spell of Good Things is about Eniola and Wuraola whose lives intersect because of harsh circumstances caused by an ineffectual government.


Release date: March 2022


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The Nigerian poet Romeo Oriogun is one of the most important writing today, among those responsible for sparking a renaissance in LGBTQ literature in the largely homophobic Nigeria. His debut collection of poetry Sacrament of Bodies was published to high praise from accomplished poets like Ellen Bass and Ilya Kaminsky, and earned Oriogun a place on the shortlist of the Lamda Award for Gay Poetry.

Forthcoming from Griots Lounge, a Canadian-based publishing house with special interest in African authors, Oriogun’s Nomad shines with expected brilliance. Broadening his scope, the author looks beyond queerness and masculinity, calling up the soft histories of West African countries, from Benin Republic to Burkina Faso, Ghana and Senegal. Themes of exile, slavery, colonialism and its reverberations on cultural life, is woven throughout the book.


Release date: July 12

Since the publication of her debut book Under The Udara Trees in 2013, Chinelo Okparanta has become one of the most visible authors in the African literary space. Her follow-up, a collection of stories titled Happiness, Like Water was similarly acclaimed, introducing her bubbly voice to a number of people who might have missed out on the first.

Seven years after that collection, Okparanta is returning with her second novel, Harry Sylvester Bird. Forthcoming in July from Mariner Books, the novel follows the life of Sylvester, a young white man who falls in love with Maryam, a young Nigerian woman. As the two tango, going through the motions of contemporary love and expression, the shades of racism are cast over their relationship, leading to a breakup when Maryam pulls away from Sylvester. Alone, confused, Sylvester has to confront his identity and come up with some reason for his fate.

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