Ahead of her appearance at Africa Writes 2016, a major festival of African Literature happening at the British Library in London UK from 1st--3rd July, Zahrah Nessbit-Ahmed, founder of the Bookshy Blog, chronicles some of the exciting happenings within the African literary scene in recent years, and gives a low down on titles to look out for.
The growth in independent publishers across the African continent--Kwani? in Kenya, Modjaji Books in South Africa, Cassava Republic Press in Nigeria to name a few--and a rise in literary magazines, writing workshops, competitions, and prizes; as well as the introduction and adoption of digital content and electronic reading devices, have stimulated great interest in literature across the continent.
In the midst of what could be called a literary renaissance, there has been a plot twist, involving genre fiction (also known as "popular" fiction) slowly moving away from its "low-brow" reputation to take centre-stage in African literature. Crime, romance, science fiction and fantasy by African writers are experiencing increasing popularity; internationally acclaimed writers in ' speculative fiction", such as South Africa's Lauren Beukes and Nigerian-American, Nnedi Okorafor--as well as the growing popularity of African crime writers--provide both entertainment and a way to understand contemporary events. Within this landscape, new publishers and imprints are also beginning to emerge--Cassava Republic Press' digital romance imprint, Ankara Press; Jungle Jim's pulp fiction magazines; and Paressia and Helon Habila's crime and spy fiction imprint Cordite Books, are just a few examples. With this new wave of genre fiction, African writers are shifting the lens through which these genres are traditionally viewed; while the novels enable readers to see the world in new, and different, ways. If you're interested in trying something a little bit different, here's my selection of 10 genre fiction novels by African writers to check out.
FIVE DEBUT GENRE FICTION NOVELS
EASY MOTION TOURIST
by Leye Adenle
Set in Lagos, Leye Adenle's debut novel, Easy Motion Tourist, is a fast-paced, gritty crime novel. Guy Collins, a British journalist, is in Lagos on the hunt for an election story, but accidentally gets accused of murder--a mutilated female body is found close to a local bar he ends up going to while he waits for the elections. A young working girl, Amaka, manages to convince the police station...