NPL is shining a spotlight on books from, and about, Nigeria.
Nigeria has a long and vibrant literary and artistic culture, and is home to widely celebrated writers like Chinua Achebe and, more recently, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi. Nigeria’s writers have built audiences at home and in the diaspora and their fiction addresses a range of contemporary issues.
Things Fall Apart (available as an audiobook) / Chinua Achebe. This classic work of literature is hailed as one of the first novels to depict African village communities from an African perspective.
Half of a Yellow Sun / Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This novel takes place prior to and during the Nigerian Civil War (1967-70). Its title is taken from the emblem for Biafra, the breakaway state in the conflict. Adiche’s tells stories on the war’s impact on civilian life and the trauma beyond war trenches through three characters.
Freshwater / Akwaeke Emezi. This debut novel is a bildungsroman that builds journeys to the heroine’s multitudinous selves.
Under the Udala Trees / Chinelo Okparanta. A young Nigerian woman, displaced during the Civil War, begins a love affair with another refugee from a different ethnic community. This debut novel tells the story of two women discovering the cost of living amidst taboos and prejudices in uncertain times.
Stay with Me / Ayobami Adebayo. A portrait of a couple struggling with infertility and whose marriage is strained when his conservative family pressures him to take a second wife.
Known and strange things / Teju Cole. Born in the United States and raised in Nigeria, Teju Cole’s first collection of nonfiction considers international, personal, cultural, technological, and emotional journeys. Of particular interest are his essays on photography where he applies a curatorial eye to the history of photography and discusses the work of photographers like Nigeria’s J.D. ’Okhai Ojeikere.
Prince of Monkeys / Nnamdi Ehirim. Taking place in Nigeria during the 1980s and 90s, Nnamdi Ehirim’s first novel depicts Nigeria through the stories of a group of friends anchored by a single protagonist. The novel is centered on events before and after a single night out to see their idol, Fela Kuti, perform at the Afrika Shrine in Lagos.
Heroic Africans: Legendary Leaders, Iconic Sculptures / Metropolitan Museum of Art. In this 2011 exhibition catalog, curator Alisa LaGamma discusses leading West and Central African sculptural traditions as commemorations of real people who lived and died but are as fixed forms of expression that emulate ethical and political standards and power.
Master Nigerian writers, including Nobel-prize winner Wole Soyinka’s, and poet Ben Orki are available via an interlibrary request. Amos Tutuloa’s The Palm-Wine Drinkard (1952) is considered one of the first Afrofuturistic writings in Nigerian prose, and is also available via interlibrary loan.