Five Of My Funkiest Nigerian Authors.

Photo credit: British Council
Photo credit: British Council

Nigerian Authors that make me proud.

I started reading at a very young age. I would read newspaper clippings, poems, comic books… anything I could lay my hands on, but novels and novellas were my thing. I enjoyed a good story. Once I got hooked on a good story, I wouldn’t put the book down till it is finished; even if it took all night, and that’s saying something for a kid.

Regardless of all the fantastic novels (by amazing authors) I’ve read in my time, subconsciously, I am always more interested in ones by Nigerian or African authors. I grew up knowing authors like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and Ken Saro Wiwa, they were the hottest back then. However, I can’t forget Ben okri, Buchi Emechata and Cyprian Ekewnsi, they were a force to reckon with. While I salute the grandmasters of the game, I can’t help but notice present day Nigerian authors and the waves they are creating in the world of literature. These guys are simply too good. I’m not talking only about story lines or plots, but aesthetics, forms and styles as well as what they do when they are not writing.

Here are 4 of my funkiest Nigerian authors, whose novels (and general awesomeness) will quite literally blow your socks off. Oh by the way, I decided to add a 5th author to this list.  Victoria Nwogu whose upcoming book Fit, healthy and beautiful also makes my list of funky, and I’ll tell you why.

Chimanda Ngozi Adichie is one of my five funkiest Nigerian authors. Photo credit: Bella Naija
Chimanda Ngozi Adichie is one of my five funkiest Nigerian authors. Photo credit: Bella Naija

1 Chimanda Ngozi Adichie: Chimanda is brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Her notable works – Half of a Yellow Sun, Americanah and Purple Hibiscus were written sweetly. Her easy to read, easy to follow modern style is purely stunning. It is clear from reading her books that she translates her experience first and foremost as a Nigerian into her stories. She uses the Nigerian situation (good and bad) to tell a good tale. An example of this is her novel Half of A Yellow Sun  which was later adapted into a movie starring Chinwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton (released in 2014). Her other works (short stories) include The thing around your neck (2009) and Ceiling are also worth reading. But her funkiness transcends her writing, she’s a strong feminist, inspired a song by Beyonce (thats right, Beyonce) and she also gives lectures . . .  her TED Talk ‘The Danger Of A Single Story‘  has become one of the top ten most viewed Ted Talks of all time (over 12 million views) If you are talking about all round awesomeness , its Chimanda.  Her most recent book is titled Dear Ijeawele (2017) and if  you haven’t picked up any of her other books….. you should.

Teju Cole. One of the most amazing Nigerian authors. Photo credit: Vimeo
Teju Cole. One of the most amazing Nigerian authors. Photo credit: Vimeo

2 Teju Cole: Truth be told, I only picked up one of  Teju’s books this year, and that was Open City. After reading this novel, I wondered why I hadn’t read any of this dude’s works previously. Such is his brilliance. Open City is just a captivating book about a Nigerian doctor who immigrated to New York and finds solace in walking the metropolitan city. Upon further digging, I found his other works, and they were SUPER. Known and Strange Things and Everyday Is For The Thief. Just like Chimanda, his stories are inspired by the motherland – Nigeria (or at least he refers to it in his tales) Teju is also a journalist, Social Commentator and photographer and for that he gets my ‘funky’ badge. There is space reserved in my book shelf for any upcoming work from Teju.

Chika Unigwe. Photo credit: Brittle Paper
Chika Unigwe. Photo credit: Brittle Paper

3 Chika Unigwe: This sister is super talented, period. She writes in Dutch and English. My favourite book of hers On Black Sister’s Street was actually written in Dutch (Fata Morgana) and later released in English. Chika Unigwe is also unapologetic writing about her country Nigeria and inspires other writers (me included) to follow suit. The fact that she also writes short fiction elevates her funkiness level in my eyes. BBC Short Story and Commonwealth Short Story competition awards reinforces her short story credentials. It doesn’t end there, in 2004, she was named in Hay Festival’s Africa 39 (a list of 39 African writers aged under 40 with the potential to define future trends in African literature). It’s obvious her talent has not gone unnoticed. I think she’ll keep writing, and keep getting noticed…. she’s super funky.

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani Photo credit: Bella Naija.
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani Photo credit: Bella Naija.

4 Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani: They say Adaobi is a novelist, humorist, essayist and journalist. I say she’s A-list. Unlike others, Adaobi has not written many novels, but the one she’s written is ‘unputdownable.’ I’m talking about I Do Not Come To you By Chance. The novel is so good, it won the 2010 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book and was named as one of the Best Books of 2009 by the Washington Post. I’ve always advocated as a Nigerian, the need to make fun of ourselves and our situation but also recognise the seriousness of our predicament. I Do Not Come To You By Chance does just that. It is centred around the well-known Nigerian email scams scourge (what you know as 419). She has also flaunted her other journalistic writing skills by writing (a lot) for The New York Times, The BBC, The Guardian and CNN. Also, writing runs in her blood; her first cousin is Flora Nwapa – the first female African writer to publish a book, isn’t that a serious level of funkiness?

Victoria Nwogu.
Victoria Nwogu.

5 Victoria Nwogu: Normally, I wouldn’t include self-help publications or even autobiographies in my list, not because I don’t revere them, but there’s something special about the way fictional authors spin their yarn, the way they craft their tales. But Victoria Nwogu’s Fit, healthy and beautiful is different. Although the book is not a novel, it is a very fair, unaldurated and genuine weight loss journey that was crafted like a story and garnished with practical tips from a real life diet aficionado (fancy way of saying expert). What I love most about Victoria’s book is its practicality. It is heavily loaded with pictures showcasing her weight loss journey and its arrangement and pattern is flawless and does not have the feel of ‘just any other fitness book.’ She wrote the book like a seasoned author, because she is. She is an accomplished Poet with  published poems in Praxis Magazine. Pardon my shameless plugging, but I must say though that Fit, healthy and beautiful is a ‘coming soon’ since its not available (yet) for purchase. I was privileged to read the manuscript and I can only tell you to be on the look out for it in the coming weeks.

So there you go, five of my funkiest Nigerian authors. You might have noticed only one of the famous five is male, perhaps that says a little something about Nigerian female authors, but I’m not ready to start world war 3, so I’ll just let it be. I’m sure there are many more male authors out there that are presently slaying, and in due course I will give them their just credit.

Be sure to let me know what you think and who your favourite Nigerian Authors are in the comment section below.

Kole Obasa

 

 

 

 

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