It has occurred to me that a lot of Nigerians don’t appreciate Nigerian literature. It seems like foreigners place more value on Nigerian books and authors than Nigerians themselves. I have seen more Nigerian classics in a library in Europe than I have seen in any library in Nigeria – and trust me, I’ve been around a bit. Just in case you don’t know, many Nigerian writers and authors are SUPER TALENTED! If you have never been into Nigerian books, I recommend that you start exploring them. Sure, you will come across a lot of poorly written and produced books – just as you would in many other parts of the world – but if you search well enough, you will unearth unbelievable treasure in Nigerian books. From traditional literature, genre (pop) fiction and poetry to memoirs and autobiographies, Nigerian books are rich with enough entertainment, adventure, information and education to keep you glued to your reading seat (or is it bed?).
If you want to start an adventure in exploring Nigerian books, perhaps you might want to start with any of the Top 15 Nigerian Books in 2013 compiled by The Channels Book Club – a literary show that airs on the 8 times award winning television station of the year – Channels Television (www.channelstv.com). The 15 books picked all hit the Nigerian market between December, 2012 and December, 2013 and were not necessarily published in 2013. They were selected by the in-house team of The Channels Book Club in conjunction with some of its guests and friends who are active participants in Nigeria’s literary space. The list consists of 8 fiction books and 7 non-fiction books.
Here are the books arranged in no particular order:
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah is an incredibly readable and rich tapestry of Nigerian and American life. It is an extremely thoughtful, subtly provocative exploration of the structural inequality of different kinds of oppression, gender roles, and idea of a home.
2. Love is Power or Something Like That
Author: Igoni Barret
Love is power or something like that is a collection of Barrett’s debut short story collection. It offers vibrant tales of modern-day Nigeria. Barrett has distinctively and vividly captured the restless energy of Lagos in this book.
Author: Molara Wood
Indigo is made up of seventeen stories which have all been vetted externally and subjected to rigorous editorial reviews. Many of the stories are award-winning and have been previously published in reputable journals and books. The book takes off, starting with Indigo, the title story, a touching tale about childlessness, societal expectations and culture clashes.
4. The Sahara Testaments
Author: Tade Ipadeola
The Sahara Testaments is a collection of poetry which is remarkable in its blending of elements from two traditions. The audacity of Tade Ipadeola’s ambitions spills over the boundaries of his central trope, the Sahara desert, to encompass nothing less than an entire continent. The book won the 2013 NLNG Prize for Literature – Africa’s biggest literary award in monetary terms.
5. Bom Boy
Author: Yewande Omotosho
Bom Boy is a well-crafted and complex narrative written with a sensitive understanding of both the smallness and magnitude of a single life. It is a story of a young man living in the suburbs of Cape Town who develops strange habits of stalking people, stealing small objects and going from doctor to doctor in search of companionship rather than cure.
6. The Thread of Gold Beads
Author: Nike Campbell-Fatoki
Thread of Gold Beads takes its readers to 1890s Africa, in the middle of a war. It is a story of war, which blends history, drama, love, betrayal and hope; it is a story of a little girl who grew up to be a strong woman amidst her trials. Nike weaves a beautiful tale which encourages and challenges us to pursue our dreams in spite of the obstacles we may face.
7. A Bit of Difference
Author: Sefi Atta
A Bit of Difference limns the complexities of our contemporary world. Atta, winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature for Everything Good Will Come (2006), delivers on the promise of her well-received early work with this book which at a time was an American successor to classic Nigerian literature and a commentary on how the English-speaking world reads Africa.
8. The Wonderful Life of Senator Boniface and Other Sorry Tales
Author: Ayo Sogunro
The Wonderful Life of Senator Boniface and other Sorry Tales is a collection of fourteen contemporary short stories, interspersed with poetry, exploring themes of human nature in general, and Nigerian social psychology in particular.
9. The Accidental Public Servant
Author: Nasir El Rufai
This is a story of Nigeria, told from the inside. In this tell-all memoir, El-Rufai reflects on a life in public service to Nigeria, the enormous challenges faced by the country, and what can be done while calling on a new generation of leaders to take the country back from the brink of destruction.
10. The Tragedy of Victory
Author: Alabi Godwin Isama
The Tragedy of Victory is a book written by Brigadier General Alabi Isama, providing the inside knowledge and information about the separatist war in Nigeria from 1967- 1970. Many books have been published about the war, since the combatants laid down their weapons in 1970. Yet, none has provided vital information about the conception, execution and end of the Nigeria- Biafra war. None as been backed by facts, evidences, witnesses, none was ever illustrated with photographs, maps and monuments like the Tragedy of Victory.
11. Soldiers of Fortune
Author: Max Siollun
This book is the story of Nigeria’s political journey between January 1, 1984 and August 27, 1993. It is the story of how things fell apart. It is one of the most intriguing, fact based narration of the events of those years written by one of the most passionate emerging historians of modern Nigeria.
12. There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra
Author: Chinua Achebe
There Was a Country is a distillation of vivid first hand observation and forty years of research and reflection. Achebe broke the story in this book into four parts that roughly covers the personal and political arc of his life’s story. He addressed his people, his country, the world; he took on the role of a statesman rather than a storyteller.
13. Harmattan Haze on An African Spring
Author: Wole Soyinka
In this book, Soyinka argues that all claims that Africa has been explored are as premature as news of her imminent demise. A truly illuminating exploration of Africa has yet to take place. It does not pretend to take place even on the pages of this book, being content with retrieving a few grains for germination from the wasteful threshing floor of Africa’s existential totality.
14. June 12 Annulment
Author: Abraham Oshoko
June 12 Annulment is rendered in the form of a graphic novel with illustrations beautifully wrought. Liberties were obviously taken with creating the intense dramatic scenes but the fidelity of the story remains the same as the author captures the climatic moments of the period (June to December 1993) that makes up the scope of this volume. For the first time ever, the full story of what really happened in those tumultuous days, with its intricacies, intrigue and complexities, is told from the perspectives of all its major players, in this full-colour graphic novel.
15. Jokes Apart: How Did I get Here?
Author: Julius Agwu
This Book is a chronicle of one young man’s journey to discovery, his coming of age and realization of his God’s-given potentials. This book which is Julius Agwu’s autobiography will make you laugh and cry as you read about his days of hunger and how he squatted his way through Lagos propelled by unequivocal belief in himself, his talent and his God.
Amazon.com is acknowledged for a number of the reviews above.