When was the last time you read a novel by a Nigerian author? If you haven’t, here is the perfect opportunity to familiarize yourself with some of the best Nigerian books by new and well-known writers from Nigeria.
I was only a teen when I was introduced to Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. It was an unusual book to me as a teen but it opened my eyes and mind to actively pursue literature from Black people who didn’t live in America. I think it’s important for people, especially Black and POC to embrace and educate themselves about cultures that differ from their own.
Throughout my adult years, I try to read books by authors who live in different parts of the world. However, when it comes to reading works from authors who are from Africa, it seems that Nigeria has the most visibility when it comes to seeking such material and content.
I love Nigerian customs and culture. Whether it’s the food, music, or clothing, every opportunity I’ve had to learn more about Nigeria and its history has been informative and delightful.
Whether you enjoy romance, sci-fi, mysteries or anything else in between, you’ll be able to find something you like. Even Netflix has a dedicated Nollywood category where viewers can stream an assortment of Nigerian shows based on the category they like.
This list is just a small sample of a growing number of Nigerian books and authors you should become familiar with. With a mix of upcoming and classics, you should be able to find some of the best Nigerian books to add to your TBR pile.
The Best Nigerian Books
Coconut: A Black Girl, a White Foster Family, and the Search for Belonging and Identity by Florence Oòlaìjiìdeì
Set in the 1960s, the family-based memoir follows the childhood of Florence who grows up in London. Her parents, both Nigerian, relocated for work to give their family a better life. However, with her parents working, she was placed with a foster family and saw her parents only occasionally. When her parents decided to move back to Nigeria, Florence didn’t feel she fit in because of her English mannerisms and her inability to speak Yoruba. Her memoir showcases her struggles with trying to fit in in different cultures despite both of them being her own.
Hope and Glory by Jendella Benson
Glory is a British Nigerian who has been living in Los Angeles living her best life. But once she gets word of her father’s death, she’s finds herself flying back to Europe. Once she arrives, her family drama is on full display. There’s a deep, dark secret that’s been brewing in her family and Glory has the ability to keep her family from drifting apart.
You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi (May 24)
Feyi has suffered enough. After losing the love of her life in a terrible accident years ago, she is determined to find happiness again, moving to New York City to start over and further her art career. While with her friend she meets a man that she considers having a casual affair with. After all, he seems perfect, until she meets his sophisticated dad and you know what they say — the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
A Coastline Is an Immeasurable Thing: A Memoir Across Three Continents by Mary-Alice Daniel (Nov 29)
This beautiful and poetic memoir follows the journey of Daniel’s family from Nigeria to England and America. Daniel recalls the culture shock she endured leaving Nigeria for England. From the weather changes, the cultural differences and the racism, Daniel felt she would never fit in. But Daniel found love and home in America when she traveled to California. Her resilience to life her life as a Nigerian, British, American and Muslim gives hope to all Black diaspora people who want to take their culture to new places to call home.
The Legacy of Molly Southbourne (The Molly Southbourne Trilogy Book 3) by Tade Thompson (May 17)
This bloody sci-fi horror thriller is the conclusion to the Molly Southbourne series. If you haven’t read the first two, don’t worry because these novellas are a scary delight to get through. In this conclusion, Molly Southbourne is gone, but her spirit and sisters are still wandering about as they try to find peace and move on from their deadly past. However, the truth lives in Molly’s blood and there is no escaping no matter how hard they try.
Where the Children Take Us: How One Family Achieved the Unimaginable by Zain E. Asher (April 26)
CNN news anchor Asher delivers an emotional memoir that serves as a dedication to her mother. Asher relives her childhood as she reflects the sacrifices and the strength her mother displayed after her father succumbed to fatal injuries in a car accident. Her mother challenged her and her siblings by using tough love and Nigerian parenting techniques that groomed her children for success. From creating a book club to cutting out newspaper clippings of inspirational Black people, Asher makes her mother a superhero in her inspiring memoir.
Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi with Joshua David Stein
Top Chef star Kwame Onwuachi adapted his book for a YA audience last year because he wanted to inspire younger readers as well. Onwuachi grew up in the Bronx and even though his father is Nigerian, he was in for a bit of a shock when his mother sent him to Nigeria with his grandpa. This memoir serves as a testament to how culture, food and perseverance can overcome any challenges and it can be delicious, too!
Wahala: A Novel by Nikki May
A challenging story that covers race and class and how it impacts a group of friends. These friends are biracial mixed with Nigerian and they view the world through their rose-tinted glasses. Bound by Eurocentric ideas of beauty such as “good hair,” this novel sheds light on how marginalized groups can still benefit from privilege.
Operation Sisterhood by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
If you’re an only child, you probably have thought about how your life would be different if you had siblings. For Bo, that reality came true once her mother started dating Bill and they moved to Harlem, New York. Now Bo and her mother are living with Bill and his daughter as well as another couple and their twin daughters. Bo’s newfound sisterhood is making their family closer and their community stronger.
Lightseekers by Femi Kayode
There’s a lot of Nigerian literary fiction available now, but have you ever considered trying out a Nigerian political thriller? This book is a fast-paced story about university students being killed and a government official assigning a criminal psychologist named Dr. Taiwo on the case. Dr. Taiwo isn’t a cop and he’s only there to determine the motive of the perpetrators, but he finds himself going down a rabbit hole of political corruption and conspiracies — now his life in is danger.
The Sweetest Remedy by Jane Igharo
Igharo delivers a Nollywood-style romance that involves a young woman named Hannah. Hannah doesn’t know much about her Nigerian father, except that he’s dead and now she’s on a flight preparing to meet the family she’s never met before. She quickly realizes that her father had wealth but the chaos leading to her father’s funeral reveals family secrets while Hannah continues to struggle how she can navigate Nigerian culture.
The How: Notes on the Great Work of Meeting Yourself by Yrsa Daley-Ward
Yrsa Daley-Ward is half Jamaican and half Nigerian, and her poetry book doubles as an exploration of self-help book about self-love. From Beyoncé to Instagram, she has had her powerful words reposted and shared countless of times. While Daley-Ward has penned beautiful and thoughtful words across social media, she continues to uplift others with her words of affirmations and encouragement.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Published in 1958, Things Fall Apart is one of the most celebrated books in African and world literature. One of the main characters of this story is Okonkwo who embodies a lot of negative traits that he tries to justify as a positive. Now on the verge of being colonized by the British, Okonkwo looks to his ancestors for their wisdom to help him survive.
Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
Yinka considers herself a success. She has a good job, graduated from a prestigious school, and has the best friends she can ask for. But that doesn’t stop her mother from always asking her where is her huzband? For Yinka’s mother, her life isn’t complete unless she gets married and have children. That makes Yinka reevaluate her life as she learns that before anyone else can love her she has to love herself first.
The Carnivorous City (Lagos Noir) by Toni Kan
This book reminds of the the lyrics by Goya Menor and Nektunez called Ameno Amapiano. “You want to bamba? You want to chill with the big boys?” are the lyrics and I feel this song would be the perfect song if this book has a soundtrack. Soni is well-known for being a boss and gangster in Lagos but now that he’s gone missing. Now his brother Abel is back home and is looking for him. Abel finds himself caught between criminals with old beef with his brother and corrupt public servants that want to cash in on his family’s misfortunes.
Did you enjoy this list? If so, check out this informative round-up of Nigerian feminist reads to add to your TBR.