10 African Authors You Should Know

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The African stories are by far some of the most interesting stories in the world, this is mainly because it is not one story. The African continent is culturally and ethnically diverse this results in multifaceted literature coming out of the brilliant writers. African authors’ will often have important themes in their stories these include gender inequality, political instability, economic turmoil, post war and post-colonial identity. Here are some of the African authors who capture the African story and deliver it as vividly as possible for the world to see. 

1.      Chinua Achebe 

Born in Nigeria. African literature can never be mentioned without Chinua. He is one of the world’s most praised writers. He wrote some of the most extraordinary works of the 20th century. His most famous novel Things Fall Apart (1958), is a depiction of the clash between traditional values and effects of colonial rule as well as gender tensions in patriarchal societies. He is also a literary critic who has openly criticised some novels of racism. 

2.      Nuruddin Farah 

The Somalian born writer has numerous plays, novels, and short stories all of which revolve around his experiences in his native country. The title of his first novel From a Crooked Rib (1970) stems from a Somalian proverb “God created women from a crooked rib, and anyone who trieth to straighten it, breaketh it.” It is a commentary on the suffering of women in Somalian society. His other works revolve around other social criticism themes and others dealing with war and post-colonial identity 

3.      Mariama Ba 

Senegal born, Mariama Ba is one of Africa’s most influential female writers. She is famous for addressing gender inequality in Senegal and wider Africa. The issues she addresses in her work are inspired by the challenges she faced as a woman. She struggled to get access to education and was left to fend for 9 children after divorcing a prominent politician. Her frustrations towards gender inequalities she experienced can be noted in her brilliant novel So Long a Letter (1981). 

4.      Petina Gappah 

The brilliant author was born in the Copperbelt Province Zambia and raised in Zimbabwe. Petina is a powerful voice who in her novels depicts the Zimbabwean life mostly post-independence. She captures the economic turmoil, social relations, and the political landscape. She is a qualified lawyer without any formal writing education. Her first book a compilation of short stories An Elegy for Easterly (2009), was said to depict what it meant to be Zimbabwean in recent times. She was awarded the Guardian First Book Award for the Novel. She is one of the leading voices of Zimbabwean life as well as struggles past and present in the country. 

5.      Ayi Kwei Armah 

His work is famous for intense social and political devastation and frustration in Ghana. He is influenced by French philosophers and his work revolves around themes of despair and disillusionment. His most famous work The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968) shows us an unnamed character trying to understand himself and  his country in the wake of post-independence. 

6.      Dinaw Mengetsu 

Dinaw is an Ethiopian author who is known for his novels which include Children of the Revolution (2007), How to Read the Air (2010), and others. The recurring theme in his novels is one of different individuals immigrating to the USA in search of new lives. He is a recipient of the 5 under 35 award from the National Book Foundation, the 20 under 40 award from the New Yorker, and the 2012 MacArthur Foundation Genius grant. His stories resonate with many Africans who travel abroad to fashion new lives. 

7.      Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

Chimamanda is one of the leading world-renowned African authors. Her works are mainly character driven and vividly outline the Nigerian political and social landscape. Her novel Purple Hibiscus (2003) deals with life during a military coup in Nigeria, whilst Americanah (2013) is an insightful portrayal of Nigerian immigrant life and race relations in America and the western world. Adichie’s works have been met with high praise and numerous awards. 

8.      Okwiri Oduor 

Okwiri is an upcoming Kenyan Author who made her mark in the literature world after winning the 2014 Caine Prize for her short story My Father’s Head. The short story explores themes of loneliness, memory loss as the narrator struggles with dealing with the death of her father. Although this is her only major contribution to the literary world her writing prowess and the impact of her work cannot be ignored. 

9.      Ngugi wa Thiong’o 

He is one of Africa’s most important and influential post-colonial writers. He wrote most of his first novels in English centralizing the themes of post-colonial identity versus colonial powers and cultures. He was imprisoned for a year without trial for staging a politically controversial play. After his release, he began writing in his native Gikuyi and Swahili. His language switch was caused by his idea that use of African native languages is a key tool for decolonizing the mindset and culture of African readers and writers. 

10.  Aminatta Forna 

Raised in Sierra Leone, Forna first  drew attention to her memoir The Devil that Danced on Water (2003), an extraordinary account of her family’s experiences living in a war-torn Sierra Leone, and in particular her father’s tragic fate as a political dissident. Forna has written numerous other novels all of which are critically acclaimed pieces.

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