Nigerians have always received acclaim in literature, producing such pioneers of what was termed African literature as Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Wole Soyinka, Flora Nwapa, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie, Helon Habila and a host of others. And the ink keeps flowing with a new crop of talented writers coming up each day and making their mark both home and abroad.
These authors, who are mostly first-time novelists, have won awards for writings they have done in the past and seem determined to etch their names, alongside those of the greats and pioneers, on the sands of time.
1. Chigozie Obioma
Obioma rose to fame off his debut novel, The Fishermen. The novel won the inaugural ft/Oppenheimer Emerging Voices award as well made it to the finals of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, The Guardian First Book Award and the Centre for Fiction First Novel Prize, to name a few. Chigozie has an MFA in creative writing, a novel residency at OMI’s Ledig House and is currently an assistant professor of literature and creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The Fishermen, set in the mid 1990s, is a tale of four brothers who encounter a madman whose mystic prophecy of violence threatens the core of their close-knit family.
2. Chinelo Okparanta
Okparanta’s debut short story collection, Happiness Like Water (published in 2013) won the O. Henry Award and the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction as well as made the finals of the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature, the 2013 Caine Prize for African writing and the 2013 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, to name a few. In 2015, she released her debut novel, Under the Udala Trees, which is set during the Nigerian civil war. The novel was nominated for the 2015 NAACP Image awards, the 2015 Kirkus Prize in Fiction and long listed for the 2015 Centre for Fiction First Novel Prize. Okparanta has an MA from Rutgers University, and MFA from University of Iowa.
3. Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
Ibrahim’s radio play, The Bull Man’s Story won the 2007 BBC African Performance Playwriting Competition. His short story collection, Whispering Trees (published 2012) was long-listed for the Etisalat Prize for Literature in 2014 with the title story further shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing. His first novel is The Quest for Nina and his second, Season of Crimson blossoms, (2015) which follows a salacious affair between a 55-year-old widow, Binta, and a 26 year old weed dealer and political thug called Hassan ‘Reza’, in the conservative Northern Nigeria.
4. Elnathan John
John is writer and lawyer based in Abuja . He was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2013 and 2015. His debut novel, Born on a Tuesday, was published in 2015 in Nigeria and will be released in the US and the UK this year.
5. A. Igoni Barrett
Barrett is the author of Blackass, a story about a black man who goes to bed one night and the wakes the next morning, white. It is the author’s debut novel although he has previously published a short story collection, From Caves of Rotten Teeth.