African literature is witnessing a renaissance of sorts. Talent both within the continent and across the diaspora have turned their attention and spotlight on dissecting the African experience and the resulting books from this have been some of the best-written works by African literature in the last few decades.
For this list, we are taking a look at books written by African writers on the continent or the diaspora who focus on the African experience that we think everyone should read in 2023.
Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
Written by South African comedian Trevor Noah, Born A Crime is a collection of autobiographical short stories about growing up in South Africa amidst the final throes of apartheid, the lasting effect, and the new breath of freedom. The number #1 New York Times bestselling book sees Noah expertly move from comedy to tragedy without compromising either and is as enjoyable as it is heartbreaking.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
With Homegoing, American-Ghanaian writer Yaa Gyasi made a splash as she debuted on the literary scene in 2016. The book snagged the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Literature and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award amongst others following its release. The book documents the lives of a different descendant of an Asante woman named Maame as they go through colonialism, immigration, culture shock and so much more.
ranscendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Following her triumphant debut Homegoing, Ghanian-American writer Yaa Gyasi returned to the book scene with ‘Transcendent’ – a titillating story that grapples with abandonment, drug abuse, grief, and religion all under the Immigrant experience that Gyasi is familiar with.
Welcome To Lagos by Chibundo Onuzo
Welcome To Lagos, attempts and succeeds in capturing the spirit of Lagos. From the buoyancy and joy to the pitfalls and corruption, it paints a modern story of Nigeria’s commercial capital and serves as an easy and enjoyable guide to a city that many in the diaspora visit and hope to visit.
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Adichie
Easily one of the most celebrated and acclaimed writers to come out of Africa in the last few decades, Adichie’s masterful storytelling is exemplified in this collection of short stories where she explores themes like retrospection, loss, the rejection of the African identity and multiple times the reality of immigrating from the conception of the idea of leaving, securing a visa, to arriving in a new country.