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Nigerian literature has exploded in popularity in recent years with the rise of authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Akwaeke Emezi. If you’re looking for books about Nigeria, this list has you covered with literary fiction, romances, memoirs, children’s books, fantasy, and more.
Nigeria is a country of dualities. It is modern in many senses and has a large wealthy population. But there is also a large population of the country that lives in extreme poverty. And the history of Nigeria is riddled with conflict, from the impact of colonialism and slavery to the more recent civil war of the 1960s.
But more optimistically than that, if you judge from this book list, it seems to be a country of dreamers. There are better things out there with new lives to find. And these books about Nigeria reflect that, whether it is Nigerians finding new futures in their own country or by moving to places like London or the US. No matter what though, Nigeria is home for these writers and characters, and these books are soaked in a love (albeit sometimes complicated) for Nigeria.
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Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This bestseller has become perhaps the best known Nigerian novel of recent years. In it, Ifemelu and Obinze are in love but part ways when they leave Nigeria. Ifemelu goes to America and is faced with racism for the first time. And later, when she returns to Nigeria, she must figure out where she now fits in with both her home and Obinze. For fans of contemporary fiction.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This historical novel from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie captures the story of Nigeria’s civil war, as the Igbo people tried to secede from Nigeria in 1967. The story is told from the perspective of a 13-year-old houseboy as well as two wealthy twin sisters. For fans of literary and historical fiction.
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Kambili and her brother Jaja seem to have a picture-perfect life in Nigeria. But the truth is that their father, a religious fanatic, has created an unhappy home. Then they are sent to live with their aunt during a period of military violence, and they discover that families can be filled with joy and homes can be happy. For fans of literary fiction and coming of age stories.
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Yejide and Akin are newly married and agree on a fundamental principal: even though polygamy is accepted, they won’t let it be a part of their marriage. But then Yejide has trouble getting pregnant and Akin’s mother shows up with a woman she introduces as Akin’s second wife. For fans of literary fiction.
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
Adunni is a girl who lives in rural Nigeria and is determined to get an education and find her voice. She is up against many obstacles, including poverty and abuse, but she remains hopeful and determined. For fans of literary fiction.
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Emezi is an award winning Nigerian writer, and Freshwater is their first novel. It’s about a girl named Ada who struggles with mental health as she grows, her mind separating into different selves. When she goes to America for college, the stakes for her mental health are raised even higher. For fans of literary fiction.
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
This novel starts out with a shock: a mother in Nigeria opens her door to find her son’s body on her porch. This novel is about Vivek, that son, his life and relationships, and what eventually led to his death. For fans of literary fiction and queer stories.
Dangerous Love by Ben Okri
This novel, set during Nigeria’s civil war, tells the story of Omovo who is in love with a married woman who lives nearby. She also loves him, but they can never be together. This is for fans of quiet novels and literary fiction.
For more books set in Africa, check out these books about Ghana!
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
When their father leaves town for work, four brothers decide to skip school and go fishing. At the river they meet a madman who predicts the oldest brother will be killed by one of his other brothers, a prediction which changes the course of their futures. For fans of myth-like tales and literary fiction.
The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
Jess grows up with an English father and Nigerian mother, and she never feels like she fits in. Then she visits Nigeria for the first time and finally feels like she has found her place. She also makes a new friend, TillyTilly. But TillyTilly seems to be hiding something. For fans of myth-like tales and literary fiction.
Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham
Bibike and Ariyike are twins and they have a close relationship. But then their family life starts to fall apart as their mother loses her job and their father is drawn into a cult-like church. When they are sent to live with other family, will they keep their close relationship or will the strain be too much for them? For fans of sibling stories and literary fiction.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Korede’s sister Ayoola has a habit of killing her boyfriends. And Korede is always there to help clean up the mess. But then Korede starts to like a guy at the hospital where she works. And when he asks Korede for her sister’s phone number, it can’t mean good things. The New York Times described this as “Lagos noir” and it’s perfect for fans of crime fiction and dark satire.
What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories by Lesley Nneka Arimah
While not a novel, this book of short stories is largely set in Nigeria. It focuses on relationships, often between parents and children, but also between other family members. There is a story about three generations of women haunted by the past, a story about a woman who weaves her own child out of her hair, and a story about an unsettling utopian future. For fans of literary fiction and short stories.
Jollof Rice and Other Revolutions: A Novel in Interlocking Stories by Omolola Ijeoma Ogunyemi
This novel about Nigerian girls at a wealthy boarding school is told in linking stories. It centers around four friends: Nonso, Remi, Aisha, and Solape. A school rebellion bonds them all together, but as they grow and find new lives outside of their school, they find themselves in different places. For fans of short stories, women’s fiction, and literary fiction.
Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo
This novel follows a group of people on their way to Nigeria as they try to escape the lives they had and search for a new future. There is an army officer abandoning his post after he is told to kill civilians, a member of a rebel group who wants to become a DJ, a girl whose father has been killed, and a woman escaping an abusive husband. This is for fans of literary fiction.
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
When civil war breaks out in Nigeria, Ijeoma is sent away for safety. She is only eleven, but while she is away she falls in love with another girl. When they are discovered though, she learns this is a part of herself she will have to hide. For fans of historical fiction and queer stories.
The Secret Lives of the Four Wives by Lola Shoneyin
This novel is about polygamy in Nigeria, as the lives of Baba Segi’s three wives are thrown into chaos when a fourth wife is added to the wealthy family. You might also see this book listed as The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. For fans of family stories.
Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People On Earth by Wole Soyinka
In this political satire novel, Dr. Menka and his friend Duyole are both up against an adversary getting in the way of their success. Someone is stealing body parts from Dr. Menka’s hospital, while Duyole is faced with a mysterious roadblock on his way to his new post at the United Nations. This is for fans of literary fiction, satire, and mysteries.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
This book is the first book in Achebe’s African Trilogy, and it tackles British colonialism in the late 1800s. Okonkwo is a Igbo warrior and wants to keep his traditions alive and resist the British, but of course we all know through the way history went and that this won’t work out for him. For fans of literary fiction, modern classics, and historical fiction.
Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro
Three friends, Funmi, Enitan, and Zainab, reunited in Lagos for the wedding of Funmi’s daughter, Destiny. They have been through everything together, including fraught loves. Now, at the wedding, Funmi wants everything to be perfect, but it soon becomes clear that something is wrong. For fans of women’s fiction.
The Sweetest Remedy by Jane Igharo
Hannah never knew her father, but when he dies she travels to Nigeria, curious to learn about the half of her family she has never known. There, her presence is controversial, but as she discovers more about her family she also starts to fall in love. For fans of women’s fiction and romance.
Where We End & Begin by Jane Igharo
Even though Dunni and Obinna were once high school sweethearts, Dunni hasn’t seen him since she moved to the United States. She’s created a new life for herself in Seattle with a career plan and a fiancé her parents love. But when she returns to Nigeria for a friend’s wedding and sees Obinna again, it throws everything off course. For fans of romance.
The Nigerwife by Vanessa Walters
Nicole lives in Nigeria, married to a wealthy man and part of the group of foreign women married to Nigerian men known as the Nigerwives. But then Nicole disappears and her aunt Claudine travels to Nigeria to discover what happened to her. For fans of suspense and domestic thrillers.
Noor by Nnedi Okorafor
In a futuristic Nigeria, AO is on the run. She’s never fit in, and when she runs away after a disaster, she meet a man named DNA who joins up with her. But in this world, everything is streamed, and the world is watching them. For fans of sci-fi and fantasy.
Non-Fiction Books About Nigeria
Aké – The Years of Childhood by Wole Soyinka
This memoir tells the story of Soyinka’s childhood in a small Nigerian village during World War II. He grew up in a church compound with Christian parents, but also learned Yoruba traditions from his grandfather. For fans of memoirs and coming-of-age stories.
I Am Still With You: Reckoning with Silence, Inheritance, and History by Emmanuel Iduma
After years of living in NYC, Emmanuel Iduma returns to Nigeria. This memoir reflects on his family and Nigeria’s history as he searches for answers about the disappearance of his uncle during Nigeria’s civil war. For fans of memoirs and books about history and politics.
A Coastline Is an Immeasurable Thing: A Memoir Across Three Continents by Mary-Alice Daniel
Mary-Alice Daniel was born in Nigeria, but largely grew up in England before settling in the United States. This is a memoir that looks at her heritage, where she belongs in the various tribes of Nigeria, and how both the traditions of her Nigerian family and the culture of her adopted home have shaped her. For fans of memoirs.
Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria by Noo Saro-Wiwa
Noo Saro-Wiwa is a Nigerian raised in England and hated going to Nigeria every summer to visit her father. But after her father dies and she goes years without visiting, she finally decides to return and see Nigeria for everything it really is, from Lagos to the countryside and more. For fans of travel memoirs.
Be(com)ing Nigerian: A Guide by Elnathan John
This comedic book takes a look at Nigerian society, from politicians to wealthy businessmen to religious leaders. It’s a satirical look at the people that hold positions of power in Nigeria and what that means for society at large. For fans of satire and humor writing.
Children’s Books Set in Nigeria
Olu and Greta by Diana Ejaita
Olu and Greta are cousins. But Olu lives in Nigeria while Greta lives in Italy. While it may seem like their lives would be super different, they are both kids who love to play and have fun, and this simple book highlights their similarities even while living on different continents. Recommended ages: 0-5 years.
Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke, Illustrated by Angela Booksbank
In this counting book, Baby goes to market with Mama and the different vendors give cute baby treats. Recommended ages: 0-3 years.
Catch That Chicken! by Atinuke, Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank
In a small Nigerian village, Lami is great at catching chickens. But then she tries to catch a chicken too quickly and hurts her ankle, learning a lesson about how thinking can be more important sometimes than moving. Recommended ages: 2-5 years.
Why The Sky Is Far Away: A Nigerian Folktale by Mary-Joan Gerson, Illustrated by Carla Golembe
With captivating illustrations, this Nigerian folktale explains how the greed of people caused the sky to move far away from the Earth. Recommended ages: 3-7 years.
Middle Grade and YA Books About Nigeria
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke, Illustrated by Lauren Tobia
Anna Hibiscus lives in “amazing Africa” with her big extended family. This book of stories is all about Anna Hibiscus’s adventures as her Auntie Comfort comes to visit from Canada, her family goes on vacation, and her brothers, Double and Trouble, seem to always cause trouble. This is the first book in a series. Recommended ages: 4-9 years.
Too Small Tola by Atinuke, Illustrated by Onyinye Iwu
Tola lives in a Lagos apartment with her sister, brother, and grandmother. And even though she is “too small,” she finds unique ways that only she can help her family and neighbors. And if kids love this book, it’s the first in a series. Recommended ages: 7-9 years.
Children of the Quicksands by Efua Traoré
When Simi goes to a small Nigerian village to live with her grandmother, she goes looking for a family secret. But she finds herself sinking through quicksand into an alternate reality. Recommended ages: 8-12 years.
Jummy at the River School by Sabine Adeyinka
Jummy is going to attend the best girls boarding school in Nigeria, except her best friend, Caro, isn’t going with her. Then Caro appears at the school to work, and Jummy and her new friends band together to help her. Recommended ages: 9-11 years.
Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor
After Nnamdi’s father is killed, he wants to avenge his death. A powerful criminal is suspected of murdering him, but there’s not much Nnamdi can do until one night he has an experience that grants him magical powers. Recommended ages: 10-12 years.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
This YA fantasy novel set in West Africa (likely Nigeria since the author is Nigerian-American) tells the story of Zélie, who wants to bring magic back after the king eradicated it, taking her mother with it. This book is on so many “best of” lists and is for fans of fantasy. Recommended ages: 14 and up.
How You Grow Wings by Rimma Onoseta
This book is about two sisters in Nigeria, Cheta and Zam, who are vastly different and don’t get along; but both live with their abusive mother. Then they both escape, Zam to a luxurious life with her aunt and Cheta to a life of hardship. But when they come back together, what will their relationship look like? And will they care enough to help each other? Recommended ages: 14 and up.
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