Nigerians are good storytellers, this is a list of Nigerian books you should totally read. I was going to compile a list of African books to read but I’ll pause that till I have read more books by African authors. Based on the books I have read, I compiled a list of 14 Nigerian books you can read especially if you just want to read more Nigerian/African literature. There are some Nigerian books that break out to the ‘mainstream market’, books like Purple Hibiscus but there are other brilliant Nigerian authors you need to check out too.
There are so many Nigerian books I am yet to read and would love to read. If you have any recommendations, please let me know in the comment section.
In no particular order:
–Tomorrow Died Yesterday by Chimeka Garricks: I really enjoyed this book and it is one that I will highly recommend. The full review of this book is here
It’s 2004 Port Harcourt at the height of the kidnap of oil workers in the Niger Delta, a kidnapping goes awry and four lives are reconnected. Douye aka Doughboy the career militant responsible for the crime. Amaibi the gentle university professor / eco-warrior accused. Kaniye the lawyer turned restaurateur who tries to get him off and Tubo an amoral oil company executive. Against a backdrop of corrupt practises, failed systems and injustice, these four friends tell the story of oil in a region and its effects on local communities and the Nigerian larger society.
-The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin: This book is a must-read, period!
The Secret Lives of Babi Segi’s Wives, a perceptive, entertaining, and eye-opening novel of polygamy in modern-day Nigeria. The struggles, rivalries, intricate family politics, and the interplay of personalities and relationships within the complex private world of a polygamous union come to life in The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives—Big Love and The 19th Wife set against a contemporary African background.
-Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything. But when her relatives insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 1980s Nigeria, Stay With Me is a story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the power of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about the desperate attempts we make to save ourselves, and those we love, from heartbreak.
-The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma: The review of this book can be found here
Told by nine-year-old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, THE FISHERMEN is the Cain and Abel-esque story of a childhood in Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his absence to skip school and go fishing. At the forbidden nearby river, they meet a madman who persuades the oldest of the boys that he is destined to be killed by one of his siblings. What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact-both tragic and redemptive-will transcend the lives and imaginations of the book’s characters and readers. Dazzling and viscerally powerful, THE FISHERMEN is an essential novel about Africa, seen through the prism of one family’s destiny.
–Things That Start Small but Sweet by Bibi Ukonu
For the better part of our lives, we pass through this struggle to live, to exist, to invest and to be heard. Our worlds stand in the gap between what we are and what we want to become. So, we work everyday to break through that invisible border between planting and harvesting. Things that Start Small but Sweet is a collection of twelve stories about the lives of many genuine characters, faced with numerous challenges and tears, the desires to be heard. Each story, each voice, of a child in a slum settlement, of immigrant youths, of women that are uncertain, of the non-inclusive government and of the many voices that are not heard even when they scream. It is about suffering and smiling while living. It is also about happiness and the many victories of the urban poor, and also the rich that possess them.
-Waiting for an Angel by Helon Habila: You can find a mini-review here.
Lomba is a young journalist living under military rule in Lagos, Nigeria, the most dangerous city in the world. His mind is full of soul music and girls and the lyric novel he is writing. But his roommate is brutally attacked by soldiers; his first love is forced to marry a wealthy old man; and his neighbors on Poverty Street are planning a demonstration that is bound to incite riot and arrests. Lomba can no longer bury his head in the sand.
-Easy Motion Tourist by Leye Adenle:
Easy Motion Tourist is a compelling crime novel set in contemporary Lagos. It features Guy Collins, a British hack who stumbles by chance into the murky underworld of the city. A woman’s mutilated body is discarded by the side of a club near one of the main hotels in Victoria Island. Collins, a bystander, is picked up by the police as a potential suspect. After experiencing the unpleasant realities of a Nigerian police cell, he is rescued by Amaka, a Pam Grier-esque Blaxploitation heroine with a saintly streak. As Collins discovers more of the darker aspects of what makes Lagos tick – including the clandestine trade in organs – he also falls slowly for Amaka. Little do they realise how the body parts business is wrapped up in the power and politics of the city. The novel features a motley cast of supporting characters, including a memorable duo of low-level Lagos gangsters, Knockout and Go-Slow. Easy Motion Tourist pulsates with the rhythms of Lagos, reeks of its open drains, and entertains from beginning to end. A modern thriller featuring a strong female protagonist, prepared to take on the Nigerian criminal world on her own.
-A Gamble with Death:One Man’s Desperate Journey To Europe Through The Sahara Desert and The Mediterranean Sea by Kelechi Goodluck Onuoha: This is non-fiction, I am recommending it because it tells an important story that we don’t hear about in our daily lives. I reviewed it here.
-React by Tobi Nifesi: This is a psychological thriller I think you would enjoy. Do check out my review here.
“This is CBNN Breaking News.
News coming to us here at the studio this early summer morning confirms that Seun Phillips, a renowned Landsberg-award-winning journalist, was found dead in her office at The Announcer (a national newspaper publication) at about 6:30am. She was found seated in an upright position with her fingers set over a keyboard and her eyes, wide open, staring at a desktop screen. Early medical reports say that she experienced Sudden arrhythmic death syndrome – in other words, she died in her sleep. However, we will have more information about that after further medical examinations have been carried out. At the time of this broadcast, neither The Announcer or the local police department has responded to our requests for comments. Seun is bereaved by her… her… oh my God…there is a guy in here.
Right there, behind you John… he has a gun… someone call the po…”
– Binti by Nnedi Okorafor: Lovers of science-fiction or if you just want to try the genre, this might be the one you would enjoy. It is a trilogy.
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.
If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.
-From the Crevices of Corps Hearts by Chinyere Chukwudi-Okeh: From the crevices of corps hearts is a collection of ten short stories that covers the area of love, betrayal, parenting, patriotism, poverty, illiteracy, child bride, life reflections, Lagos amongst other things. I reviewed it here.
-The Smart money woman by Arese Ugwu: I liked how this book used fiction to establish financial point, I have read it twice and I think it is a good book that you can gain financial knowledge from and also enjoy.
Meet Zuri. She’s living a fabulous life. Great car, gorgeous apartment, well paid job.
Meet Zuri. Broken down car, an apartment she cant afford, a job she’s about to lose.
What’s a broke girl to do?
With her best friends Tami (the flighty fashion designer), Lara (the tough oil and gas executive), Adesuwa (the conservative lawyer), and Ladun (the fabulous housewife), Zuri grows a little, learns a lot and navigates her way to making better financial decisions and building wealth.
This book tackles, debt, spending, the consumerist culture of the African middle class, the fear and misconceptions surrounding money and the lack of it, love, friendships, cultural and societal pressures and the roles they play in success. With each chapter comes a Smart Money Lesson, there to help you work your way up the financial ladder.
-Funny Men Cannot Be Trusted by Tolu’ Akinyemi: If you are looking for a collection of poems you will get actually enjoy, pick up this book. I reviewed it here.
‘Funny Men Cannot Be Trusted’ is a witty yet poignant third instalment in the unconventional ‘poetry for people who hate poetry’ series. It is a collection that humorously melds the trivial and the serious. It’s introduced with an exploration of the roles, foibles, and failures of men and fathers in relationships and families.
-Daughters who walk this path by Yejide Kilanko
Spirited and intelligent, Morayo grows up surrounded by school friends and family in busy, modern-day Ibadan, Nigeria. An adoring little sister, their traditional parents, and a host of aunties and cousins make Morayo’s home their own. So there’s nothing unusual about her charming but troubled cousin Bros T moving in with the family. At first Morayo and her sister are delighted, but in her innocence, nothing prepares Morayo for the shameful secret Bros T forces upon her. Thrust into a web of oppressive silence woven by the adults around her, Morayo must learn to fiercely protect herself and her sister from a legacy of silence many women in Morayo’s family share. Only Aunty Morenike—once shielded by her own mother—provides Morayo with a safe home and a sense of female community that sustains her as she grows into a young woman in bustling, politically charged, often violent Nigeria.
What are the other books would you recommend?