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Chimamanda Adichie, Nnedi Okorafor among list of African authors selling out in China

The Chinese market is one of the most difficult to break into but these African authors are taking Afro-lit to the world.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chigozie Obioma, Nnedi Okorafor among list of Afro-lit authors transitioning into the Chinese market
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English-to-Chinese translator, Bruce Humes has published a list of 66 authors of African origin who have their work translated and selling in China.

African literature in the China, in the past, wasn't exactly garnering mainstream attention, coupled with the fact that the Chinese market is considered one of the hardest to break into.

According to John Wang, an assistant professor at the school of translation studies in Jinan University, “Most Chinese readers haven’t got the faintest idea about Africa and African literature.”

However, this is changing, with the help of more diverse translations.

Translations, Wang tells Quartz, help “find common ground” and showcase “African literature as an important part of the world of literature.”

Humes, in his database of Chinese-translated Afro-lit, reports that more translations are being done from other languages to Chinese, such as Swahili, Xhosa, Arabic, etc. He also says that state-run imprints are now open to more authors and genres, rather than the ideologically-driven works like those of Léopold Sédar Senghor or Ngũgĩ or favored high-profile and award-winning writers like Gordimer, which they were focused on in the past.

According to Humes, profit is now the core motive and Chinese readers are very interested in literary writers with African roots who have made a success in the West, such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Congolese novelist Alain Mabanckou.

This is made obvious in the list of high-profile and seasoned authors, in which many only have a few of their works translated into Chinese, Adichie has become the first to have all her works—a total of six books—translated.

However, Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka were the first to have up to five of their works translated.

The list goes way back to include early classical writers, and comes down to very recent contemporary writers.

Here are the Nigerians on the list out of 66 African authors.

  • Chinua Achebe
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Uwem Akpan
  • T. M. Aluko
  • A. Igoni Barrett
  • Helon Habila
  • Alhaji Abubakar Imam
  • Chigozie Obioma
  • Gabriel Okara
  • Christopher Ifekandu Okigbo
  • Nnedi Okorafor
  • Femi Osofisan
  • Ben Okri
  • Wole Soyinka
  • Amos Tutuola
  • Chika Unigwe

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