During these three weeks of the new year, time that the world has been learning and living within, it is important to understand that we as a Black community, a culture of grace and pride, must realize that the roots of our ancestors of the African diaspora are always within us. Since last year, African fiction has become more and more prevalent in Western culture, giving due to the voices of African creativity, vision and imagination. African storytelling and its woven internal narratives has given rise to a new breadth of voices that deserve inclusion in the Black literary canon.
We, as children of the Harlem Renaissance, children of enslaved human beings, are being connected with those who are born of our generational soil from hundreds of years ago. Here are new African fiction books that are being published in this very new, very exciting year.
The Last Gift of the Master Artists: A Novel by Ben Okri | Penguin Random House
The award-winning Nigerian author has written an incredible, unique tale of a son of a king and a daughter of a craftsworker in the profound world of the historical African slave trade. Okri originally wrote this story in 2007 and published it throughout the African diaspora under the title Starbook. He chose to rewrite the novel to embody the reality of the Middle Passage with the backdrop of his imaginative story to deepen readers’ understanding the trials in tribulations which his people, and consequently his characters, needed to overcome. The Last Gift is a visionary revision that reveals the need for African stories to be shared throughout the Western world as a symbol of the future importance of the examination and realization of African literary fiction.
The Language of Languages by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o | University of Chicago Press
The iconic Kenyan author, academic and essayist Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o began writing his beautifully clear, intelligent and diverse works in 1977 in his native tongue, an act that he considered to be a position of representation and resistance in the commodification of African writing. His newest work, The Language of Languages, is a piece of auto-translation, meaning Thiong’o translated his own writing to expand the breadth and reach of his seminal works, which include lectures and essays that he believes to be necessary to share with the world at large. He writes of his translations, “We find Ngũgĩ discussing translation as a conversation between cultures; proposing that dialogue among African languages is the way to unify African peoples…exploring the essential task translation performed in the history of the propagation of thought; and pleading for the hierarchy of languages to be torn down,” according to the University of Chicago Press.
A Spell of Good Things by Ayobami Adebayo | Penguin Random House
The second novel by the award-winning Nigerian writer, Ayobami Adebayo, whose debut Stay with Me was translated into 22 languages and garnered International acclaim, continues her literary journey with A Spell of Good Things, a story of two young people from different social classes whose lives collide due to political conflict in the region. Adebayowhose’s ability to illustrate powerful cultural differences and disparities in her native country, combined with her stunning prose and wisdom beyond her years in her storytelling, makes her an exciting new African author. Her talent has the potential to open doors for a new generation of diasporic fiction and offer opportunities for the world to engage with fresh voices and creative perspectives.
Nightbloom by Peace Adzo Medie | Workman PressNightbloom is a new work of fiction that highlights the beauty and complexity of female friendship as two cousins, both of whom love each other and never wanting to be apart, find themselves separated when one is accepted at an American university to study medicine. They are brought back together through crisis, and the experiences they live while reconnecting allow author Peace Adzo Medie to share the truth of what Ghanaian immigrants face while living in the cultural intricacies of the United States and the delicate balance of maintaining their culture, families and self-identities.