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Five Must-Read Nigerian Novels.

by Frederick Akinola
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Nigerian writers have earned global acclaim with excellent writing over the years. If you have never read a Nigerian novel, you’re missing the opportunity for a thrilling experience. Subsequently, it was difficult narrowing this list down to just 5 books because of the plethora of amazing books from Nigeria. Aside from the brilliant writing, these books were also chosen because of the impact the novels had. Furthermore, they had a huge significance in the way Nigerian history is told through stories.

Things Fall Apart  – Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe - Novel

Things Fall Apart is the debut novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe first published in 1958. It depicts pre-colonial life in the southeastern part of Nigeria and the invasion by Europeans during the late 19th century. Particularly, it follows the life of Okonkwo, an Igbo man and local wrestling champion in the fictional Nigerian clan of Umuofia. Achebe’s writing is smooth and inundated with proverbs, the palm oil with which words are eaten. The book has also been translated into over 50 languages and won several awards.

The Joys of Motherhood – Buchi Emecheta

The Joys of Motherhood is a story about the life of Nnu Ego, a Nigerian woman whose life revolves around her children. It explores what it means to be a mother in Nigeria. Generally, traditions and customs seem to always be changing, as well as marriage, colonialism and gender roles in society. What greater honour is there for a woman than to be a mother?  Nnu Ego works extremely hard to provide for her children, with the hope that one day all of her suffering and sacrifice would pay off. The book also borders on African tradition, Slavery, and the transition from rural life to modern civilization.


Half of A Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

half-of-a-yellow-sun - Novel

Half of a Yellow sun tells the story of the Biafran war through the perspective of three characters. The effect of the war is shown through the relationships in five people’s lives. The people include the twin daughters of an influential businessman, a professor, and a Nigerian houseboy. After Biafra’s declaration of secession, the lives of the main characters drastically change. Afterwards, they are torn apart by the brutality of the civil war and decisions in their personal lives. The book was also awarded the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2007 and was adapted into a film in 2013. Other works by the author include Americanah, Purple Hibiscus, and The Thing Around Your Neck.

The Fishermen – Chigozie Obioma

The fishermen, chigozie Obioma

Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen established the author as an instant heavyweight in the literary space.  It is set in the 1990s and tells the story of four brothers from a quiet middle-class family. The oldest 15, and the youngest 9, take advantage of their father’s extended absence to skip school and go fishing at a forbidden river. There they encounter a vision-seeing madman whose prophecy of violence will follow the boys throughout their lives and shake up their family in both devastatingly tragic and yet redemptive ways. The book was nominated for the Man Booker prize and won several literary awards.  Obioma has also published another novel, An Orchestra of Minorities. 


Oil On Water – Helon Habila

helon habila Oil on Water -Novel


Oil on Water explores the conflict between idealism and cynical disillusionment in a journey full of danger and unintended consequences. The story is set in the oil-rich and environmentally devastated Nigerian Delta. Two journalists set out to find the kidnapped wife of a British oil executive. Waddling polluted rivers flanked by exploded and dormant oil wells, they must contend with the brutality of both government soldiers and militants. Basically, the story highlights the pollution and corruption eating up the Niger Delta. Helon Habila has won the Caine prize, the Commonwealth writers prize, and many more. His other books include “Waiting for an Angel”,  “Measuring Time”, and “Travelers”.


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