Monday, 5 September 2016

#WorldReads - five books from Nigeria

It's the fifth of the month so WorldReads day and this post is going to highlight five books I have enjoyed by Nigerian authors. Several I noticed no longer actually live in Nigeria having emigrated to other countries including America and Britain.

While researching this post, I learned that Nigeria has the highest literary output of African countries. Its ancient oral storytelling heritage began to be influenced by Arabic culture and ideas in the eighth century. White missionaries arrived in the nineteenth century with their insistence on Western-style education and culture. The novel as we know it began to appear across Nigeria in the 1930s and present-day authors have a wealth of influences to call upon from indigenous folktales and history to colonialism, religious differences, vicious civil war and the struggles of independence.

In conjunction with WorldReads from Nigeria, I have blogged my Things Fall Apart book review on Literary Flits today (from noon). Is this the most famous Nigerian novel?

Here are five more Nigerian books I have enjoyed reading and hearing:


Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Buy the ebook from Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones
Buy the woven book sleeve from my handmade shop

Read my original book review

I think Adichie is my favourite Nigerian author and my favourite of her books is still her first, Purple Hibiscus. It's a hard-hitting tale of fifteen year old Kambili who lives under the oppression of her father's particularly sadistic version of Catholicism. A military coup is the catalyst for immense change both in Nigeria and in Kambili's life. Adichie's depictions of political unease and menace provide a background to every scene and both urban and rural Nigeria are wonderfully evoked.


Under The Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Buy the ebook from Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

Read my original book review

A younger girl is the protagonist of Okparanta's novel which explores Nigeria's draconian treatment of and laws against homosexuality. Sent away from her family to work as a housegirl, isolated Ijeoma forms a friendship with Amina. It is considered bad enough that Ijeoma is Igbo and Amina is Hausa but, as the two grow up and their friendship deepens into love, they are forced apart. Okparanta shows great sensitivity in dealing with this emotionally charged subject, but I was still very shocked at how Nigerian homosexuals still have to hide their lives in the twenty-first century.


Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

Buy the book from Abebooks
Buy the audiobook download from Audible via Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

Read my original book review

My first audiobook choice of this post and my first (and only) Nigerian science fiction read, Lagoon is a great blend of contemporary environmentalism, magical folk tales, traditional and Christian beliefs, and exciting adventure. We start by watching a swordfish vandalising an oil pipeline! Okorafor has created memorable characters and her vision of Lagos made me want to jump straight on a plane there - well, arriving after the roads stopped undulating anyway!


The Famished Road by Ben Okri

Buy the ebook from Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

Read my original book review

The Famished Road is a wonderfully fluid novel of desperate poverty and surreal fantasy which is amazingly written, but it is long - at 600 pages - and requires significant effort from its reader to keep up with Okri's prose. I ultimately found it a rewarding read and, despite the harsh lives of its protagonists, thought it an uplifting novel.


No Longer At Ease by Chinua Achebe

Buy the audiobook download from Audible via Amazon.co.uk
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the paperback from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

Read my original book review on Literary Flits

I couldn't compile a post about Nigerian literature without including 'the master', Chinua Achebe. Adichie's Purple Hibiscus begins with a paraphrase of 'things fall apart', but I have chosen one of his lesser known novels for this post. I listened to No Longer At Ease on audio which I thought fitted perfectly with the storytelling style of the prose. Achebe's mixing of traditional and (then) modern beliefs and ambitions makes for a fascinating book and an interesting insight into 1950s Nigeria.


That's it for September's WorldReads from Nigeria. Please do Comment your favourite Nigerian books below.

If you missed any earlier WorldReads posts, we have already 'visited' Australia, CanadaFrance and Italy. Next month's post will highlight books from Ireland.

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