Contemporary African authors you should add to your reading list this summer

Here are four voices from across the continent you need to hear

Ghana Must Go was Taiye Selasi's first published full-length novel. (Photo courtesy of Manfred Sause)


By: Jackline Obungah

1.Taiye Selasi

Ghana Must Go

Ghana Must Go is a deeper illustration of Selasi’s “afropolitanism.” A fresh breath into the diverse realm of African literature, the book weaves through cultural complexities whilst tackling themes such as migration and family.

It’s a truly exciting read! It has received critical acclaim and several nominations, including one for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Image Award.


(Image courtesy of Hamish Hamilton)


2. Binyavanga Wainaina

How To Write About Africa

As an African, I have never read a more outstanding satirical piece about the depiction of our continent. Wainaina weaves a relatable picture on the classic depiction of the “dark continent” in modern-day media. He drops powerful lines such as:

“In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving.”

It is a piece that cuts through you and makes you grapple with the dangers of a single story, while using light-hearted satire, sarcasm, and humour to get through it.

(Image courtesy of Kwani Trust)


3. NoViolet Bulawayo

We Need New Names

This novel is a riveting coming-of-age tale set in Zimbabwe and the US. It has a unique child’s-view perspective on complex themes such as democracy, violence, and death. The novel sheds light on the immigrant experience, as the characters’ struggles evolve to include identity in an unforgiving America, especially to the black teen.

Bulawayo weaves a new and fresh narrative, African voices in migration literature, and the struggle of African-born natives in finding an identity foothold in the West.

(Image courtesy of Back Bay Books)

4. Leila Aboulela

Lyrics Alley

This novel is set in 1950s Sudan. It is a story that dissects the fragile balance between modernity and traditionalism in a country that has experienced years of foreign imperialism.

Rather than a cultural sob story, Aboulela offers the warmth and deep meaning of a Muslim family life, and of Islam’s great usefulness to many. Lyrics Alley reminds us of the amazing beauty of the Qur’an, classic Sufi poetry, and the shahada.

(Image courtesy of Grove Press)