‘Afonja’, ‘Be(com)ing Nigerian’ – The Top Nigerian Books Of 2019
Which Nigerian book did you read this year that made you pause and reflect? Or maybe it soaked you in a tank of joy and despair all at once, peeling off emotions and memories you never really thought you could muster. Well, at Channels Book Club, we came up with our own list – 20 in total – which includes titles ranging from military non-fiction to children fiction. Let us know in the comment section what you think and which books you felt should have made it.
NON FICTION TITLES
1. Nigeria’s Soldier of Fortune: The Abacha and Obasanjo Years by Max Siollun
This mini-history of Nigeria’s life reflects on a cataclysmic decade and three mesmerizing protagonists who personified that era. Moshood Abiola: the multi-billionaire businessman who had his election victory voided. General Sani Abacha, the mysterious, reclusive ruler under whose watch Abiola was arrested and Olusegun Obasanjo, who emerged from prison to return to power as an elected civilian leader. This book certainly ruffles feathers.
2. Adenike by Adenike Oyetunde
This memoir chronicles the life of Adenike Oyetunde who is a lawyer and media personality. The story highlights Adenike’s life leading up to the amputation of her right leg and after then. But beyond the loss of a leg, this is a story about parental love, the power of dreams, the importance of people and the opportunities life often veils with challenges.
3. Digital in the New Code of Wealth by Japheth Omojuwa
In this thought provoking book, social media expert, Japheth Omojuwa, argues that the power of technology manifesting in the digital space, holds the key to the development of the Africa and Africans particularly in economic and socio-political terms. Despite its many challenges, the benefits of the digital space make it indispensable for personal and continental breakthroughs in the current and future eras.
4. Entrepreneurship the SLOT Way by Nnamdi Ezeigbo
In Entrepreneurship the SLOT Way, Nnamdi Ezeigbo shares his unique experiences in building SLOT Systems Limited into a successful brand in Nigeria – against the odds. The book is candid, inspiring and empowering. Nnamdi’s story is the typical start from ground up Nigerian business story.
5. Be(com)ing Nigerian: A Guide by Elnathan John
This is satire at its best. El Nathan John, in this book, pokes fun at power holders and power itself in the context of Nigeria. He traverses how power is performed, negotiated and abused in politics, business, religious institutions and homes. From the exploration of religious hypocrisy to inequality in matters of the heart, the collection is a jab at Nigerian society and what it means to be a Nigerian.
6. The Making of Me by Dele Fajemirokun
For almost 40 years, Dele Fajemirokun has been establishing, buying into and spearheading prominent brands in Nigeria’s business landscape. In this autobiography, he reveals his story, experiences in business and relationship with his late father, Chief Henry Fajemirokun, who was regarded as the richest man in Nigeria during his time.
7. Oyinbo Came to Africa by Dele Ogun
This book uses gripping illustrations to tell the story of how Europeans and Arabs came to Africa from mid-15th century onwards with their religions and models of civilisation, and how this changed the African way of life. It covers the arrival of foreign religions; the Slave Trade and Abolition; Colonisation and Decolonisation; Africa’s centrality to the World Wars; Democracy and Military Coups. It is captivating literature for young readers.
8. I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi
In I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying Bassey Ikpi explores her life—as a Nigerian-American immigrant, black woman, poet, mother, daughter, and artist —through the lens of her mental health and diagnosis of bipolar II and anxiety. Her remarkable memoir in essays implodes our preconceptions of the mind and normalcy as Bassey bares her own truths and lies for us all to behold.
9. The Entrepreneur by Olabode Adetoyi
Agriculture Entrepreneur, Olabode Adetoyi, has had a career cutting across various aspects of the agriculture value chain in Nigeria. In this autobiography, Adetoyi tells his intriguing life story which also turns out to be a handy manual for budding and practicing entrepreneurs. It’s a straight-shooting, no holds barred business-focused autobiography.
10. From Frying Pan to Fire by Olusegun Adeniyi
This book is about how African migrants risk everything in their futile search for a better life in Europe. Through heart breaking stories of woe, particularly that of Adeniyi’s brother, this book offers insights into the experiences of the ever increasing number of young Africans diving into the unknown each year in search of greener pastures in other countries.
1. My Sister the Serial Killer – by Oyinkan Braithwaite
This novel is sly and full of surprises. Laced with nail biting violence, it’s a riveting, hilarious and dark novel about sister rivalries and staying alive. Oyinkan’s explosive debut novel has caught the attention of readers across the world and made her a writer to watch in the coming years.
My Sister the Serial Killer has won the 2019 Rooster Award, the 2019 Anthony Award for Best First Novel and the 2019 LA Times Award for Best Crime Thriller.
2. The Son of The House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia
This debut novel won its 41-year-old author, the award for best fiction writer at the 2019 Sharjah International Book Fair. It is about the struggles of womanhood and parenting amidst sexual abuse and societal pressure in marriage. These themes and more show up as the lives of two women separated by distance and class collide over a shared trauma. This is a classic example of a writer weaving advocacy and activism into storytelling.
3. Boom Boom by Jude Idada
This children’s book by Nigerian writer and filmmaker, Jude Idada, won the 2019 Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Prize for Literature. Boom Boom is a novel that explores sickle cell disease as the theme of a story told in the first person through the eyes of a child who grapples with the familial bonds of love, friendship, loyalty and trust in the face of impending doom.
4. A Particular Kind of Blackman by Tope Folarin
This is an impressive debut novel, from the Rhodes Scholar and winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, Tope Folarin, about a Nigerian family living in Utah and their uncomfortable assimilation to American life. Tunde, the protagonist in this novel, epitomizes a search for self and meaning in a strange land where his skin color separates him and his family dynamics challenge him.
5. Of Women and Frogs – Bisi Adjapon
Esi, the protagonist of this novel, is a feisty half-Nigerian girl beating a path to self-actualization in post-colonial Ghana, with occasional visits to her maternal family in Lagos. Her story is skilfully used by Bisi Adjapon to address some of the truly difficult aspects of love and sexuality for girls and women in Ghana. This is a bold book that challenges stereotypes and age long notions.
6. An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma
A Booker Prize 2019 and Digital Book World Awards 2019 Finalist, Chigozie Obioma’s second novel is a heart-breaking and mythic story about a Nigerian poultry farmer who sacrifices everything to win the woman he loves. Linguistically flamboyant and fast-moving, Obioma successfully crafts an allegory of post-independence Nigeria and the cruelties of the contemporary world.
7. A Small Silence – Jumoke Verissimo
A Small Silence is an intimate and evocative exploration of Nigeria’s political history, the alienating effects of trauma and the restorative power of the dark and silence. It is a lyrical debut novel by Jumoke Verissimo whose poetry has been translated into French, Chinese, Japanese, Macedonian, and Norwegian. A Small Silence centres on an activist released from prison and an orphaned young woman
8. Afonja – The Rise by Tunde Leye
Afonja – The Rise is a historical fiction based on the legendary Oyo Empire. It is a succession story that chronicles the clashes of two men, Aole Arogangan, the provincial prince who becomes Alaafin and Afonja, the powerful, provincial chief of war camp, Ilorin. The clashes of these two men led to the decline and eventual fall of an all-conquering empire.
9. Prince of Monkeys by Nnamdi Ehirim
Twenty Six year old Nnamdi Ehirim who is based in Lagos and Madrid, boldly tackles politics, religion, class, and friendship in this impressive first novel. Provocative and incisive, this book tackles politics, class, and power as a group of friends come of age in Lagos. The story looks into modern Nigeria and offers unsettling insight into the ways in which we are often at the mercy of powerful forces beyond our control.
10. The Adventures of Lara and Dara
From a movie came this captivating children’s book. It’s the story of two young sisters and their many life experiences. The book was adapted from the 2018 award-winning film, ‘Lara and the Beat’. Its executive director, Biola Alabi, teamed up with writer, lawyer and history buff, Aduke Gomez, to write and publish this book that has intrigued many young readers.
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