Everyone is raving about Eloghosa Osunde’s Vagabonds! Looking at the lives of defiant characters navigating the streets of Lagos, Vagabonds! has everyone in a chokehold. But what do we do when we finish reading it? Well, if you loved Vagabonds! or just African literature in general, we’ve got some more great stuff for you to read.
1. The Teller of Secrets by Bisi Adjapon
In Bisi Adjapon’s debut novel, we embark on a journey of self-discovery and feminist awakening through the eyes of Esi, a Nigerian-Ghanaian girl who’s trying to figure her shit out amid the political chaos of 1960s Ghana. Narrated entirely from Esi’s point of view, we quickly begin to question the hypocrisy of the patriarchal society and the crazy demands placed on women of that time.
Why it slaps: Even though we argue about Jollof every three days, The Teller of Secrets shows that Nigerians and Ghanaians are more alike than we’d like to admit. The book also succeeds at weaving actual historical facts into the characters’ timeline. Love it!
2. The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
This book opens with the death of our title character, Vivek Orji after their mother discovers their lifeless body on her doorsteps. Throughout the book, we work our way through multiple narratives as we attempt to figure out not just how Vivek died, but who they were.
Why it slaps: The Death of Vivek Oji is a raw and audacious story that is told in a way that the characters feel like real people. It also explores themes of culture, identity, family and loss in a way that feels different, yet very familiar.
3. Tomorrow Died Yesterday by Chimeka Garricks
Crude oil and friendship sit at the centre of Chimeka Garrik’s tragic debut novel Tomorrow Died Yesterday. Tracking the lives of four characters Doughboy, Amaibi, Kaniye and Tubo, we’re transported to the oil-rich Niger Delta circa 2004, as we dig deep into a tale of greed, corruption and a sprinkle of religion.
Why it slaps: Who doesn’t love a good thriller? The drama in this book is insane as we move from kidnappings to court proceedings to jails — omo, it’s a lot.
4. Under the Udala Tree by Chinelo Okparanta
Set in 1968, just one year into the Biafran war, Chinelo Okparanta’s Under the Udala Tree explores love and how a chance encounter can change your life forever. The book follows the friendship between Ijeoma, a Christian Igbo girl, and Amina, a Muslim Hausa girl, and how this friendship evolves into a forbidden passion.
Why it slaps: Just like Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, this book is another masterclass on how to creatively weave a war and love story into one that captures the readers and has them turning the pages in anticipation.
5. The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu
What happens when two hairdressers in modern-day Zimbabwe cross the line between rivalry and friendship — and eventually romantic attraction? This book starts up as a classic love story but slowly delves into concepts surrounding otherness and acceptance. It’s a brilliant read and a deep dive into how people make things work in relationships these days.
Why it slaps: You almost don’t see the plot twist coming even though the signs have been there all along. It also explores something that seems to be a social media hot topic every week. Want to know what that is? Well, you have to read the book.
6. Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola
If you need ginger to hunt down the love of your life, read Love in Colour and watch the new season of Bridgerton. Bolu Babalola is a sucker for love and she tells her stories in such a vivid way that at the end, you’ll find yourself in her shoes. Capturing different love stories with different characters, Love in Colour is an exquisite retelling of black love for a new generation of readers.
Why it slaps: Who doesn’t want to read about love, especially when it centres black people like us? It just hits different.
7. Fimí Síle Forever by Nnnana Ikpo
How do two twin brothers — bisexual, closeted and dreadlocked — navigate existing in Nigeria after the Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act becomes law? Fimí Síle explores activism, love and the power of creating art. Nnnana Ikpo shines a light on remarkable lives affected by a senseless bill.
Why it slaps: The lives of Nigerian bisexual men and women rarely get a time in the spotlight which makes this story a rare find. It’s a delicious book that refused to back down from something most Nigerians would rather ignore than analyse.