Post main image
Photo by

CAREER

My Year Of Reading African Female Authors

Seven authors I fell in love with!

BY Joan Thatiah

Feb 16, 2021, 10:44 AM

Photo by

Going out with the girls on a Friday night is a plan but stopping by your inama bookshop for an evening of coziness and a good read could be an even better one.

A year ago, after hearing a Kenyan man say there are no good African writers, I took on the challenge to read only books written by African authors for a year. I aced it. I virtually traveled to different parts of Africa, learning, laughing and sometimes crying with characters I met from book to book. While at it, I met seven female authors whose books, I believe, everyone should read.

Lola Shoneyin

Lola Shoneyin
Lola Shoneyin is hilarious. She is like those friends who will have you in fits of laughter even during solemn moments. I thoroughly enjoyed reading her multiple award-winning novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s wives. I couldn't have enough of it. The book follows the life of Baba Segi and his four wives. Lola has a way of injecting humor even while tackling serious issues like polygamy and the darkness that sometimes comes with it, marital deception, and a young woman’s struggle with infertility.

Mariama Bâ

Mariama Bâ
So long a letter, a classic by Senegalese writer and feminist Mariama Bâ is tear-jerking. While it was written in 1979, just two years before Mariama died aged 52, this book gets me. It gets the African woman today. It’s written in the form of a 95-page letter by the character Ramatoulaye whose husband leaves her after 30 years and 12 children to marry her friend’s daughter. In the letter, she bares her heart to her friend. Her writing is moving and intimate in the way that only writing by a person who has lived the life of a Black woman in Africa can be.

Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi
Yaa Gyasi is a multiple award-winning, 30-year-old American-Ghanaian novelist. Her writing is so powerful especially coming from someone so young. It makes you stop mid-page, plop your book on the table and think. Her book, Homegoing is the last book I read from my challenge. It’s an intense story about two sisters in the 18th century, one married to a British soldier and the other sold off as a slave. It’s a heavy read which took me about two weeks to finish. It was worth every minute.

Chimamanda Adichie

Chimamanda Adichie
When I think of Chimamanda Adichie, the other African author who comes to mind is Chinua Achebe. In his words, Adichie has come of age. Whether she is writing fiction, short stories, or non-fiction, she is brilliant. I read and reread all of her five books in the last year. My favourite was Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions in which she destroys patriarchy. You go, girl!

Ayobami Adebayo

Ayobami Adebayo
When she writes, Nigerian writer Ayobami Adebayo speaks to your soul. When she writes, you can almost hear her voice. In her debut novel Stay with Me, she takes an ordinary African tale of a young couple’s struggle with childlessness and spins a mater piece. She has a way of showing you things without telling you. This is not a book you will read only once, I promise.

Arese Ugwu

Arese Ugwu
I fell in love with Arese Ugwu because she dared venture into money, a topic that the African woman shies away from. She is a 34-year-old Nigerian author. Her book. 

The Smart Money Woman has kicked up a storm and follows the life of a typical middle-class Africa woman living above her means. Zuri is living a fabulous life with a broken car, an apartment she can’t afford and a job she is about to lose. Arese tackles important conversations. If you are looking for bold, unapologetic writing, you will fall in love with her.

Wanjiru Koinange

Wanjiru Koinange
Kenyan author Wanjiru Koinange is the only one who has been willing and able to confront the ugliness of the post-election violence which rocked the Kenya in the 2007-2008 elections. Her book, The Havoc of Choice is a masterpiece. As I read it, I was taken back to those very scary and uncertain times thirteen years ago.

Read: Meet Women Defying Expectations