Top 10 Must-Read Books By Nigerian Authors

Nigerian literature is known for its rich variety of stories that resonate locally and globally. From deep narratives about Nigerian society to captivating tales of personal strength and cultural heritage, Nigerian writers have left a lasting impression on literature.

Here are the top 10 must-read books by Nigerian authors, spanning different periods of Nigerian history. Each book offers a unique perspective and a compelling story, taking readers on an unforgettable journey through Nigeria’s heart and soul. So, get ready for a great adventure through the pages of these books!

Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

If you’re in the market for a timeless masterpiece of African literature, look no further than “Things Fall Apart.” This Nigerian novel continues to captivate readers with its profound exploration of culture, tradition, and the clash of worlds.

Achebe’s storytelling prowess and his vivid depiction of Igbo society in pre-colonial Nigeria make this novel a compelling and thought-provoking read. It’s no wonder the book earned Achebe the Nigerian National Trophy for Literature and the Margaret Wong Memorial Prize in 1959.

Death and the King’s Horseman – Wole Soyinka

“Death and the King’s Horseman” is a play by Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was written in 1975 and is based on a true story from Nigeria during British rule.

The play is set in Oyo, a town in Nigeria, and focuses on the Yoruba tradition where the king’s horseman must die when the king dies. However, when the British colonial authorities intervene to stop this ritual, it causes a clash between African traditions and British values.

The play explores themes of colonialism, cultural identity, and the clash between African and Western beliefs. It is considered one of Soyinka’s most important works, known for its powerful storytelling and exploration of complex themes.

Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Half of a Yellow Sun,” published in 2006, is another outstanding novel by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The story follows three main characters: Ugwu, a young and impressionable houseboy; Olanna, a beautiful and intellectual woman from a privileged background; and Richard, a British writer who has come to Nigeria to document Igbo art. These characters, along with others, are intricately woven into the narrative, providing diverse perspectives on the war and its devastating impact.

Adichie’s writing is exceptional, and her storytelling is skillful. She vividly portrays the landscapes, cultures, and lives of those affected by the war in Nigeria. The characters are complex and relatable, allowing readers to connect with their experiences of joy, sorrow, and struggle.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives – Lola Shoneyin

This award-winning book is a must-read. It received both the PEN Oakland 2011 Josephine Miles Literary Award and the 2011 ANA/Ken Saro-Wiwa Prose Prize.

Set in present-day Nigeria, the story revolves around Baba Segi, a wealthy and traditional man with four wives. A notable aspect of the novel is its well-developed characters.

Baba Segi’s wives—Bolanle, Iya Tope, Iya Femi, and Iya Segi—all have distinct personalities, and the narrative shifts between their perspectives. Through their stories, the author provides insights into their lives, experiences, and motivations.

Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

It’s impossible to talk about the top Nigerian books of all time without mentioning a work by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She’s one of the most prominent African writers in history, and her book “Purple Hibiscus” is a testament to her talent.

Published in 2003, “Purple Hibiscus” is Adichie’s debut novel and a powerful exploration set in post-colonial Nigeria. The story is told through the eyes of Kambili Achike, a young girl growing up in a wealthy and devoutly Catholic family. Her father, Eugene, is a strict and authoritarian figure who rules the household with an iron fist. Despite being respected in the community, Eugene’s religious fervor is coupled with abusive behavior towards his wife and children.

Welcome To Lagos – Chibundu Onuzo 

“Welcome to Lagos” is a novel by Chibundu Onuzo, a Nigerian author. Published in 2017, the book follows the story of a group of strangers who come together in Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling metropolis, and embark on a journey of survival and self-discovery.

The novel explores themes of politics, corruption, and the complexities of modern Nigerian society. Through the eyes of its diverse characters, including a young army officer, a runaway girl, and a militant, “Welcome to Lagos” offers a poignant and insightful look into life in one of Africa’s largest cities.

Onuzo’s writing is praised for its vivid descriptions, compelling characters, and nuanced exploration of Nigerian identity and politics. “Welcome to Lagos” is a compelling read that offers a unique perspective on life in contemporary Nigeria.

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty – Akwaeke Emezi

“You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty” by Akwaeke Emezi is a contemporary romance novel that follows Feyi Adekola, a Nigerian-American visual artist, as she navigates healing from the trauma of losing her partner and finding new love. Set five years after the tragic accident, Feyi’s summer takes an unexpected turn with a chance encounter at a rooftop party, leading to a series of adventures that include a luxury trip and career opportunities. The novel explores themes of healing, love, and personal growth in the face of loss.

My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite

“My Sister, the Serial Killer,” published in 2018, is a darkly comedic and suspenseful Nigerian novel that quickly gained attention for its unique premise and engaging narrative style.

The story revolves around Korede, a nurse, and her sister Ayoola, who has a habit of killing her boyfriends. Korede struggles with her loyalty to her sister and her moral dilemma. 

Oyinkan Braithwaite’s writing is sharp and witty, blending humor with suspense to create an entertaining and thought-provoking narrative. The novel’s brevity and fast-paced plot make it a quick and engaging read, while the short chapters add to the sense of urgency.

A Particular Kind of Black Man – Tope Folarin 

“A Particular Kind of Black Man” is a novel by Nigerian-American author Tope Folarin, published in 2019. It explores themes of identity, belonging, and the immigrant experience in the United States through the life of the protagonist, Tayo, who was born to Nigerian parents but raised in the U.S.

The novel is praised for its introspective and emotionally rich narrative, offering readers a close and empathetic look at Tayo’s struggles with his identity as a first-generation immigrant. Folarin’s writing is reflective and explores moments of self-discovery, reflection, and cultural reconciliation.

Small Business Big Money – Akin Alabi 

“Small Business Big Money” by Akin Alabi is a practical guide for small business owners seeking growth and financial success. Published in 2018, the book draws from Alabi’s experiences as an entrepreneur and offers valuable insights on entrepreneurship, marketing, and financial management. It covers topics such as finding the right business idea, raising capital, and building a successful brand, making it a valuable resource for aspiring and current small business owners.

Final Thoughts

Nigerian literature offers a treasure trove of must-read books by talented authors whose works continue to captivate readers globally. These top 10 books show how diverse and interesting Nigerian stories can be. They teach us about Nigeria’s past, culture, and society. Whether you love books or just want to try something new, these books are sure to be a great read and teach you something new about Nigeria.

Written by Seunfunmi Joshua

Seunfunmi is a Publicist, Filmmaker, Writer & Producer of Live Events..

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