In celebration of World Book Day, Pulse would be looking at Nigerian writers who have made their mark this year and the year before.
From winning prestigious prizes and writing remarkable books to getting a movie deal and creating a great series, these are the Nigerian authors setting the pace this year.
1. Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedimma Nkemdili Okorafor is a Nigerian-American writer of fantasy and science fiction for both children and adults.
Her work often looks at "weighty social issues: racial and gender inequality, political violence, the destruction of the environment, genocide and corruption" through "the framework of fantasy."
After turning to writing short stories while she battled complications from a surgery in her teens, Nnedi gradually honed her creative writing skills, winning the Hurston Prize in 2002 for her story, “Amphibious Green”.
Her greatest works, however, are "Who Fears Death" which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Fantasy Novel and the Binti Trilogy. Nnedi uses traditional Nigerian customs and spiritual concepts to tell stories of freedom, confidence and identity that often have young female African protagonists.
Nnedi’s works have made the transition to comics and the small screen. In July 2017, she announced via Twitter that Who Fears Death was picked up by HBO to become a TV series with novelist and Game of Thrones producer, George R.R. Martin, joining the project as an executive producer.
She has also written for Marvel’s Black Panther series and Venomverse.
2. Tochi Onyebuchi
The Nigerian-born author holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale, an MFA in Screenwriting from Tisch, a Masters degree in Global Economic Law from L’institut d’ tudes politiques, and a JD from Columbia Law School.
In his first book, “Beasts Made of the Night”, which was described as “Unforgettable in its darkness, inequality, and magic”, Tochi creates a busy market city inspired by his Nigerian heritage and populates it with a group of outcast kids who shoulder the sins of the rich and powerful.
The central character is a young boy, Taj, who is a member of a clan indentured by the city’s elite to consume the sins of others.
The book includes references to traditional Nigerian practices, some of which you would well relate to. His follow-up, “Crown of Thunder” is slated for release in October 2018 and is expected to continue in that tone.
3. Tomi Adeyemi
The Nigerian-American Author’s first book, “Children of Blood and Bone”, which has been described as the biggest fantasy debut novel of 2018, has made its first appearance atop the New York Times Bestseller’s list.
The 24-year-old's novel has been called the biggest fantasy debut novel of 2018, drawing comparisons with everything from Game of Thrones to Black Panther, and has netted a movie deal reported to be worth seven figures.
In the book, a young female protagonist, Zelie Adebola who is a fisherman’s daughter is joined by an unlikely band of allies to fight a monarchy and return magic to her home country of Orisha.
4. Lola Shoneyin
Lola Shoneyin is a Nigerian poet and author who launched her debut novel, "The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives", in the UK in May 2010. Shoneyin has forged a reputation as an adventurous, humorous and outspoken feminist. The award-winning author is also the organiser of Ake Books and Art Festival.
Early examples of her work appeared in Post Express in 1995, which features a short story about a Nigerian woman who leaves her husband for an Austrian woman. This story initiated dialogue about homosexuality within a Nigerian context.
Shoneyin has also written for newspapers, including The Scotsman, The Guardian, and The Times on issues such as racism, Nigeria's tradition of polygamous marriage, the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram and the elections of now President Muhammadu Buhari.
5. Roye Okupe
Roye Okupe is a writer and creator of E.X.O., a superhero story about redemption, set in futuristic 2025 Nigeria.
The graphic novel was released back in August 2015 and has since been featured on CNN, BBC and Forbes.
“Wale Williams and his setting of ‘Lagoon City’ is to Lagos what Gotham City is to New York,” Forbes has said about Okupe’s book. CNN, on the other hand, describes the novel as a “fast-paced, afro-futuristic graphic novel.”
6. Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie
Adichie is an unrepentant feminist and activist in all rights. The award-winning author has published a short book on feminism, "Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions".
Her essay, We Should All Be Feminists, adapted from her 2013 TEDx talk, has remained on the bestseller lists, particularly in Sweden, where in 2015 it was distributed to every 16-year-old high-school student in the land.
The success of We Should All Be Feminists has made Adichie as prominent for her feminism as for her novels, to the extent that she now gets invited to every damned feminist thing in the whole world.
7. Chika Unigwe
Author of four novels, Chika Unigwe was in the final shortlist of the 2016 Nigerian Prize for Literature for her novel ‘Night Dancer’. In 2012, her novel ‘On Black Sisters’ Street’, had won the same prize. Unigwe was appointed as Bonderman Professor of Creative Writing at Brown University in Rhode Island and won the 2003 BBC Short Story Competition and a Commonwealth Short Story Competition award.
In 2004, she was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing. In the same year, her short story made the top 10 of the Million Writers Award for best online fiction.