There’s a whole host of authors from Africa who are making a splash on the international stage. These are a few.

Maaza Mengiste‘s novel The Shadow King was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2020, following widespread acclaim for her 2010 book Beneath the Lion’s Gaze.

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mengiste has lived in Nigeria and Kenya, and now lives in the United States where she is a professor at Queens College, New York.

Nigerian Nnedi Okorafor is a writer of science fiction, Africanfuturism and comic books.

She has won multiple awards, including the Hugo and World Fantasy awards, and the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa — an award established in honor of the Nigerian Nobel Prize-winning author of the same name.

Okorafor has written comics for Marvel, including Black Panther: Long Live the King and Wakanda Forever. Her novel Who Fears Death is being developed into a TV series by HBO, and she is co-writing the screenplay for a Hulu TV adaptation of her novella Binti.

Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a global sensation, loved by Beyonce, Michelle Obama, and millions of others.

An influential feminist, she has won multiple awards for her novels, including the 2007 Orange Prize (now called the Women’s Prize for Fiction) for Half of a Yellow Sun, her novel on the Biafran war which was adapted into a movie starring Thandiwe Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Ayesha Harruna Attah is a Ghanaian writer living in Senegal. She was educated at Mount Holyoke College, Columbia University and New York University.

She is the author of the Commonwealth Writers Prize-nominated Harmattan RainSaturdays Shadows and The Hundred Wells of Salaga, currently translated into four languages. Her writing has appeared in the New York TimesNew York Times MagazineElle ItaliaAsymptote and the 2010 Caine Prize Writers’ Anthology.

South African Lauren Beukes has earned a global reputation for her speculative fiction, including the novels Broken Monsters, Moxyland and The Shining Girls, which is being adapted for TV.

Her many awards include the Arthur C Clarke Award for science fiction for Zoo City. She is also a journalist, documentary maker, and writer of comics.

Born in Liberia, Ghanaian Peace Adzo Medie is an academic who has written fiction and non-fiction. Her debut novel His Only Wife was published in 2020 and was named among the New York Times‘ “100 Notable Books of 2020,” and a Time Magazine Must-Read.

She is also senior lecturer in Gender and International Politics at the University of Bristol, in the UK.

N. Maria Kwami is a Ghanaian Development Journalist based in the US who moved back to Ghana to write. Her debut novel, Secrets of the Bending Grove was shortlisted for the prestigious Ayi Kwei Armah Literary Prize for Original Fiction from the Ghana Association of Writers.

Born in Rabat, Morocco, Laila Lalami is a novelist and essayist. Her debut collection of short stories, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, was published in 2005. Nearly a decade later her book The Moor’s Account won the Arab American Book Award and the American Book Award. She was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.

Her 2019 book, The Other Americans, which begins with the mysterious death of a Moroccan immigrant in California, was a national bestseller in the US, where she is a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside. The book also saw her become a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and the National Book Award in Fiction.

Nigerian Chigozie Obioma has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, for his novels The Fishermen and An Orchestra of Minorities.

Obioma was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of its “100 leading global thinkers of 2015.” He is a professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in the US.

Born in Douala, Cameroon, Hemley Boum was first published in 2010, writing three books in her adopted city of Paris.

In 2015, her book Les Maquisards earned her the Grand Prix Littéraire d’Afrique Noire – a leading prize for Black African literature written in French.

Boum won the same award for her 2019 novel Les jours viennent et passent (Days come and go). Telling the story of three generations of women relaying their personal histories of Cameroonian families plagued by war, it is set to have an English translation published in 2022, and distributed in sub-Saharan Africa.

Internationally celebrated Nigerian author Ben Okri has had his novels, poetry and short stories translated into more than 20 languages.

In 1991 he became the youngest ever winner of the Booker Prize, for The Famished Road. He has also won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa, and the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction.

He lives in London, where he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Djaili Amadou Amal is a Cameroonian activist, writer and president of the feminist collective Femmes du Sahel, (Women of the Sahel).

In 2019 Amal was awarded the Orange Book Prize for her novel Les impatientes, which explores subjects including rape and polygamy as it chronicles the lives of three young women from wealthy families in Cameroon as they navigate society’s expectations. A year later she won the eminent French literary award, the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens for the same novel.

Ayobami Adebayo was born in Lagos, Nigeria. Her 2017 novel Stay With Me was named among the best books of 2017 by The Guardian and a notable book of the year by The New York Times. It won the 9mobile Prize for Literature and and was shortlisted for the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction (now called the Women’s Prize for Fiction) and the Wellcome Book Prize. The French translation won the Prix Les Afriques in 2020.

Irenosen Okojie, who was born in Nigeria and moved to England aged eight, won the 2020 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story Grace Jones. The story features in her new collection, Nudibranch.

Her 2015 debut novel Butterfly Fish won a Betty Trask award and was shortlisted for an Edinburgh International First Book Award.

Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga is novelist, filmmaker and playwright. Her novel This Mournable Body was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2020.

BBC culture writers named her 1988 debut novel Nervous Conditions among its “100 stories that shaped the world.”

In 2020 Dangarembga was arrested during anti-government protests in Zimbabwe, before being freed on bail. She was awarded the 2021 Freedom of Expression Award by PEN International, which describes itself as defending freedom of expression and promoting literature worldwide.

The work of Moroccan writer and visual artist Youssouf Amine Elalamy has been translated into multiple languages including English, Spanish, Arabic, Greek, Dutch and German.

His novel Les Clandestins, which explores the stories of 13 refugees stranded on a beach along the Straits of Gibraltar, won critical acclaim, and last year he won the Orange Book Award in Africa for his novel C’est Beau, la Guerre.

Elalamy is a professor at Ibn Tofaïl University in Kenitra, Morocco, where he teaches Stylistics, Art, Communication and Media Studies.

Taiye Selasi is a GhaNigerian writer and photographer born in London and raised in Boston. She now lives in Rome and Berlin. In 2005 she published the much-discussed essay Bye-Bye, Babar (Or: What Is an Afropolitan?), offering an alternative vision of African identity for a transnational generation. Prompted by writer Toni Morrison, the following year she published the short story The Sex Lives of African Girls in the literary magazine Granta.

Her first novel Ghana Must Go, published in 2013, is a tale of family drama and reconciliation, following six characters and spanning generations, continents, genders and classes.

David Diop is a Senegalese academic and writer. His book At Night All Blood is Black won the International Booker Prize in 2021, described by the judges as “a story of warfare and love and madness.” The New York Times called Diop “a great new African writer” in its review of the book.

The Fugitives is Sudanese author Jamal Mahjoub’s latest novel. “Set between Khartoum and the chaos of Donald Trump’s America, it is about friendship and the desire for home,” said publishers Canongate to Open Country Magazine. “Mahjoub brings to life a side of Sudan that is rarely seen: close intergenerational family relationships and a bohemian arts scene that has been suppressed by religious sanction.”

Sierra Leonean author Aminatta Forna wrote four novels between 2006 and 2018, earning repute for her history-rich work. Her new collection of essays, The Window Seat, collects a number of new and previously unpublished essays exploring the landscapes of different cities, from Freetown to London. 

Salman Rushdie, in a blurb, notes how the essays “[range] across continents and time, so broad in their themes and so deep in their perceptions, are essential reading, combining Aminatta Forna’s great gifts as a storyteller and her razor-sharp analytical skills.”


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