Share 12 Utterly Captivating Novels by Nigerian Authors to Add to Your TBR

12 Utterly Captivating Novels by Nigerian Authors to Add to Your TBR

Sarah Jane Abbott is an associate editor for Paula Wiseman Books and Beach Lane Books, imprints of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.  She grew up having NANCY DREW books read to her by her father, and is now an avid reader of mystery, thriller, and horror, along with everything from literary fiction to poetry to personal essays.  She graduated from Bucknell University with a degree in English and a concentration in creative writing.  Sarah Jane is an advocate of quasi-destructive book love—her best-loved volumes are highlighted, scribbled in, dog-eared, and wavy from being dropped in the bath tub.  

If you have never read a book by a Nigerian author, you are seriously missing out. There are so many incredible Nigerian and Nigerian-American writers creating books that will move you, make you laugh, make you cry, and completely transport you. Their novels span different time periods and will take you all over Nigeria, to the Nigerian-American experience, to incredible Nigerian-inspired fantasy worlds. Here are twelve books—some enduring modern classics, some instant successes by debut authors—that will leave you clamoring for more. 


Lagoon
by Nnedi Okorafor

After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the waters outside of the world’s fifth most populous city, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a preemptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between seventeen million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed. 

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Lagoon
Nnedi Okorafor

It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction—in this novel that blends magical realism with high-stakes action.

After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the waters outside of the world’s fifth most populous city, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a preemptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between seventeen million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed.

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12 Utterly Captivating Novels by Nigerian Authors to Add to Your TBR

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 2, 2020

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My Sister, the Serial Killer
by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Korede mostly keeps to herself—this is prudent when your sister is a serial killer who keeps bumping off her boyfriends and you are helping cover up her crimes. Korede sees taking care of her beautiful, charming, sociopathic sister as her responsibility. So she goes to her job at the hospital, pines after a handsome doctor, and keeps Ayoola from posting pictures to Instagram while she is supposed to be mourning her “missing” boyfriends. But when Korede’s crush asks her for Ayoola’s phone number, she is going to have to decide whether she is willing to protect her sister at the possible expense of his life.  

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My Sister, the Serial Killer
Oyinkan Braithwaite

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Purple Hibiscus
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This debut novel by the author of AMERICANAH follows a pair of privileged siblings living in Nigeria. As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, the siblings are sent to their aunt, where they discover a life beyond the confines of home. This is an exquisite novel about the emotional turmoil of adolescence, the powerful bonds of family, and the bright promise of freedom. 

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Purple Hibiscus
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

With works like AMERICANAH and WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is not one to shy away from big subjects like race and feminism. Her debut novel, PURPLE HIBISCUS, follows a pair of privileged siblings living in Nigeria. As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, the siblings are sent to their aunt, where they discover a life beyond the confines of home. PURPLE HIBISCUS is an exquisite novel about the emotional turmoil of adolescence, the powerful bonds of family, and the bright promise of freedom.

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A Particular Kind of Black Man
by Tope Folarin

In this sweeping, powerful drama of family and identity, living in small-town Utah is a struggle for Tunde Akinola’s family, especially his Nigeria-born parents. As Tunde struggles to fit in at school, his father tirelessly chases the American dream while his lonely mother sinks deeper into schizophrenia. Tunde’s mother eventually abandons them to return to Nigeria and Tunde spends the rest of his childhood and young adulthood searching for connection—to the stepmother and stepbrother he gains when his father remarries; to his middle school’s African American students; and to the fraternity brothers at his historically Black college. 

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A Particular Kind of Black Man
Tope Folarin

**One of Time’s 32 Books You Need to Read This Summer**

An NPR Best Book of 2019

An “electrifying” (Publishers Weekly) debut novel from Rhodes Scholar and winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing about a Nigerian family living in Utah and their uneasy assimilation to American life.

Living in small-town Utah has always been an uncomfortable fit for Tunde Akinola’s family, especially for his Nigeria-born parents. Though Tunde speaks English with a Midwestern accent, he can’t escape the children who rub his skin and ask why the black won’t come off. As he struggles to fit in, he finds little solace from his parents who are grappling with their own issues.

Tunde’s father, ever the optimist, works tirelessly chasing his American dream while his wife, lonely in Utah without family and friends, sinks deeper into schizophrenia. Then one otherwise-ordinary morning, Tunde’s mother wakes him with a hug, bundles him and his baby brother into the car, and takes them away from the only home they’ve ever known.

But running away doesn’t bring her, or her children, any relief; once Tunde’s father tracks them down, she flees to Nigeria, and Tunde never feels at home again. He spends the rest of his childhood and young adulthood searching for connection—to the wary stepmother and stepbrothers he gains when his father remarries; to the Utah residents who mock his father’s accent; to evangelical religion; to his Texas middle school’s crowd of African-Americans; to the fraternity brothers of his historically black college. In so doing, he discovers something that sends him on a journey away from everything he has known.

Sweeping, stirring, and perspective-shifting, A Particular Kind of Black Man is “wild, vulnerable, lived…A study of the particulate self, the self as a constellation of moving parts” (The New York Times Book Review).

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Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe

A true modern classicChinua Achebe’s monumental novel encompasses the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. Okonkwo, a wealthy and fearless Igbo warrior of Umuofia in the late 1800s, futilely resists the devaluing of his traditions by British political and religious forces and his despair as his community capitulates to the powerful new order. 

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Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe’s legendary novel encompasses the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. It is an illuminating monument to modern Africa as seen from within.

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The Joys of Motherhood
by Buchi Emecheta

In this feminist classic, Nnu Ego is a Nigerian woman struggling in a patriarchal society. Unable to conceive in her first marriage, Nnu is banished to Lagos where she succeeds in becoming a mother. Then, against the backdrop of World War II, Nnu must fiercely protect herself and her children when she is abandoned by her husband and her people. 

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The Joys of Motherhood
Buchi Emecheta

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12 Utterly Captivating Novels by Nigerian Authors to Add to Your TBR

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 2, 2020

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Everything Good Will Come
by Sefi Atta

It is 1971 and there is political turmoil in Nigeria, but eleven-year-old Enitan has other concerns. She is worried that her deeply religious mother will forbid her growing friendship with Sheri, the new girl next door. As the two grow up into fiercely intelligent, strong women, the novel explores whether it is better to work within the traditional system or try to tear it down. 

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Everything Good Will Come
Sefi Atta

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12 Utterly Captivating Novels by Nigerian Authors to Add to Your TBR

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 2, 2020

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I Do Not Come to You by Chance
by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Kingsley Ibe is the first son in his family, which means he has certain responsibilities. His degrees aren’t much help in finding work, but he is expected to take on the training of his younger siblings, support his parents in their retirement, and scrape together money for his beloved sister’s bride price. Without a “long-leg”—someone who knows someone who can help him in his career—Kingsley fears he will never be able to support his family. So he turns to his Uncle Boniface—AKA Cash Daddy—who is rumored to run a successful empire of email scams. 

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I Do Not Come to You by Chance
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

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12 Utterly Captivating Novels by Nigerian Authors to Add to Your TBR

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 2, 2020

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Children of Blood and Bone
by Tomi Adeyemi

In this instant New York Times bestseller with a long list of amazing accolades, this debut author spins a fantasy tale inspired by West Africa. Zélie Adebola lives in Orïsha, where magic used to be all around: Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and her Reaper mother summoned souls. But when the ruthless king has all the maji killed and magic disappears, Zélie fights to bring back magic and bring down the monarchy. 

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Children of Blood and Bone
Tomi Adeyemi

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Freshwater
by Akwaeke Emezi

Ada is an unusual child who is a source of deep concern to her southern Nigerian family. She is troubled, prone to violent fits. Born “with one foot on the other side,” she begins to develop separate selves within her as she grows into adulthood. And when she travels to America for college, a traumatic event on campus crystallizes the selves into something powerful and potentially dangerous, making Ada fade into the background of her own mind as these alters―now protective, now hedonistic―move into control. 

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Freshwater
Akwaeke Emezi

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Welcome to Lagos
by Chibundu Onuzo

Army officer Chike Ameobi abandons his post after being ordered to kill innocent civilians. He is then drawn into the heart of a political scandal involving Nigeria’s education minister. Chike becomes the leader of a band of misfits and runaways who are searching for a different kind of life. Among them is Fineboy, a fighter with a rebel group, hoping to become a radio DJ; Isoken, a sixteen-year-old girl whose father may have been killed by rebels; and Oma, escaping a wealthy, abusive husband. 

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Welcome to Lagos
Chibundu Onuzo

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MENTIONED IN:

12 Utterly Captivating Novels by Nigerian Authors to Add to Your TBR

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 2, 2020

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Stay with Me
by Ayobami Adebayo

Yejide and Akin met and fell in love at university and from the beginning of their marriage they agreed that polygamy is not for them. But after four years of marriage and all sorts of fertility treatments, Yejide isn’t pregnant. Then her in-laws bring over another young woman who will be Akin’s second wife. Shocked, angry, and jealous, Yejide is determined to get pregnant to save her marriage—by any means necessary. But it may come at a cost greater than she ever imagined. 

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Stay with Me
Ayobami Adebayo

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12 Utterly Captivating Novels by Nigerian Authors to Add to Your TBR

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 2, 2020

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