Top 7 Nigerian Authors in the Last Decade

by Joshua Yemi Omoifo
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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I recently finished this interesting book written by a Nigerian author, and it got me thinking about this whole wave of amazing Nigerian writers we have these days. It feels like every time you turn around, there’s another incredible writing coming out of Nigeria. It’s like a literary explosion!

But here’s the thing; it’s not just about the entertainment. These Nigerian authors are diving deep into important societal issues, the kind of stuff that makes you stop and think about the world. On top of that, they’re racking up awards like crazy! 

Here, I put together a list of 7 Nigerian authors in the last decade who are blowing up the literary world right now. They’re all unique, but they all have this fantastic way of capturing your attention and making you see the world in a new way.

Top 7 Nigerian Authors in the Last Decade

  1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Hold on, have you heard about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? She’s one of the Nigerian authors who has taken the literary world by storm in the last decade. She has been doing something amazing in the literary world.

Nigeria has always been a breeding ground for talented writers, but Adichie is somehow special. She has been like a supernova in the last decade! Now, she has become this huge household name that everyone who reads knows her work.

You know those popular books “Half of a Yellow Sun,” “Purple Hibiscus” and “Americanah?” She wrote them, and they aren’t just page-turners. They tell these powerful stories about Nigerians, their culture, and history, featuring both the beautiful parts and the ugly parts. In her books, she spotlights Nigeria and makes the whole world see it in a new way.

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  1. Teju Cole

Adichie might be a force of nature with her powerful storytelling, but Cole? He’s more than just a Nigerian-American author who’s influencing the literary world differently.

Teju Cole’s writings are one of a quiet observer, a deep thinker who weaves fiction and non-fiction. His debut novel, “Open City,” is a perfect example. It follows the story of a Nigerian immigrant in New York City, wandering the streets and reflecting on life. But it’s not some boring travelogue, oh no. 

Cole’s writing is like poetry, and he uses this character to explore the huge questions about identity, belonging and what it means to be caught between two cultures. “Open City” blew up when it came out in 2011, and almost became a modern classic overnight. It gives the vibe of, “Here comes another Nigerian genius!” 

The best part? The book was a finalist for the “National Book Critics Circle Award.” This was part of what established Cole as a literary force to be reckoned with.

  1. Helon Habila

Here’s where things get interesting! Adichie and Cole are like rock stars of the literary world. However, Nigeria has had authors in the last decade who have been bringing home the trophy for a long time too. Take Helon Habila, for example. 

Habila has been writing for over two decades, engineering stories with this incredible literal touch that just pulls you right in. Habila’s novels, like “Waiting for an Angel,” are fantastic, but it’s “Oil on Water” that’s got everyone talking. This book dives deep into the whole oil exploration situation in the Niger Delta, showing the impact it has on the people and the environment. 

This Nigerian author is surely a master storyteller. He paints pictures with words and makes you feel like you’re right here in Nigeria with the characters. The stories he tells aren’t always sunshine and rainbows. 

Habila gets real about the tough stuff, the corruption that runs rampant, the violence that tears communities apart. He also shows the fight and the resilience of the Nigerians. His stories stay with you long after you turn the last page. They are stories that make you want to learn more and understand the world a little bit better.

  1. Sefi Atta

On to Sefi Atta, one of the top Nigerian authors in the last decade! This Nigerian-American author straddles the line between Nigeria and America, and her work reflects that beautifully. Her novels, like “Everything Good Will Come” and “Swallow,” take you right into the heart of contemporary Nigeria. But Atta doesn’t shy away from the complexities. 

Atta gives you a nuanced view, showing both the beauty and the struggle. One thing she excels at is portraying the lives of Nigerian women and mothers. She tackles issues of women’s rights, and the clash between tradition and modern life, all with a sharp wit that keeps you turning the pages. 

She has also this great eye for human nature, and her characters feel so real, that you could swear you know them. No wonder she’s built up such a devoted fanbase. Her stories resonate, they make you think, and leave you wanting more.

  1. Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

Ibrahim is one of those Nigerian authors whose stories are all about shaking things up, the kind of writer who makes you slam the book shut, lean back, and say “Wow, that was something!”

His novel, “Season of Crimson Blossoms,” is a perfect example. Nigeria is a pretty conservative society and this book? Let’s just say it throws tradition out of the window. It dives into some seriously taboo subjects that Nigerians don’t normally talk about openly, like love and desire in unexpected places. 

This writing was bold and raw, and it sparked some major conversations about gender and sexuality. You know when a book tackles a sensitive subject like that and it’s good, people notice.

“Season of Crimson Blossoms” wasn’t just some controversial book that ruffled a few feathers. It was a total critical and commercial success. It even won the “2016 Nigeria Prize for Literature,” which is a huge deal in the African literary scene. That tells you something about the power of Ibrahim’s writing, right?

Well, Ibrahim isn’t just out there to shock people. He has been challenging the status quo, making us question the norms and traditions that society holds dearly. He’s not afraid to get real while exploring the complexities of human relationships and desires. That’s what makes him such a compelling writer.

So, if you’re looking for Nigerian writers who bring something different to the table, then Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is an author to check out. His writing is thought-provoking, and it might just change the way you see the world.

  1. Ayobami Adebayo

Still speaking of Nigerian authors making waves in the last decade, let’s talk about Ayobami Adebayo. This rising star practically exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, “Stay with Me.” Forget about slow burns, Adebayo came in with a bang! 

This book wasn’t just some quiet debut, it won the “9mobile Prize for Literature,” a pretty big deal in the Nigerian literary world. Not only that, it got shortlisted for the prestigious “Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction” too! That’s some serious recognition for a first-time author.

Awards are just the tip of the iceberg in Adebayo’s case. What got people hooked on her writing is the depth of her storytelling. “Stay with Me” tackles themes that are close to many people’s hearts; marriage, family, and the sting of betrayal. 

Adebayo doesn’t shy away from the complexities of these relationships. She dives right in and explores the hopes, the heartbreaks, and the messy realities that come with love and family. “Stay With Me” isn’t just some light summer read you forget about after a few days on the beach. Her characters stay with you, their struggles and triumphs echoing in your mind long after you finish the last page. 

She has earned a dedicated following of readers who can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. With critical acclaim like hers, it’s safe to say the world is eagerly awaiting her next masterpiece.

  1. Chigozie Obioma

Let’s shift gears a bit and talk about Chigozie Obioma, one of the Nigerian authors in the last decade who has gradually evolved to become another heavyweight in the Nigerian literary scene. His debut novel, “The Fishermen,” wasn’t just some one-hit wonder or a flash in the pan. It landed him a nomination for the “Man Booker Prize.”

For those who aren’t familiar, the Man Booker Prize is a huge deal. It’s like the golden ticket in the world of English literature. Getting a nomination is a sign that you’ve written something truly special that stands out amongst the best of the best. For Obioma to achieve that with his debut novel? That’s incredible! 

It’s a testament to his talent and the power of his story. But hey, honestly, once you crack open “The Fishermen,” you get to understand why it turned heads. It’s a captivating read that deserves all the recognition it has gotten.

Aside from that, Obioma’s writing is like a symphony for your senses. His prose is lush and lyrical, painting vivid pictures with every word. You can practically feel the Nigerian heat, smell the dust on the roads, and hear the murmur of the characters’ voices. It’s not just beautiful language; Obioma has a knack for weaving profound insights into human nature into his stories. 

He explores the complexities of love, loss, guilt, and forgiveness in a way that resonates deeply with readers. Some critics have even compared his storytelling to the legendary Chinua Achebe – the godfather of modern African literature

That’s high praise indeed, and it shows just how much potential Obioma possesses. His follow-up novel, “An Orchestra of Minorities,” and his other works have only solidified his reputation as a literary powerhouse. He’s an author to watch and someone who’s sure to keep pushing the boundaries of Nigerian literature for years to come.

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Conclusion

The seven Nigerian authors highlighted in this piece are putting Nigeria on the map, securing its place as a literary force. It’s truly an exciting time to be a reader and to be discovering all that Nigerian writers and literature have to offer.

Edited by Priscilla Ajayi.

About Author

Joshua Yemi Omoifo
Joshua Yemi Omoifo
Joshua Yemi Omoifo is researcher, lover of words and freelance writer.

Despite being a law undergraduate, his love for content writing and marketing has led him into acquiring professional digital skills and certifications which include Keyword Research, Content Marketing & SEO certification at Semrush Academy, certified Email Marketing Specialist at Hubspot Academy and certified Digital Marketing Expert at Google Digital Garage.

He is always looking for ways to improve his writing skills and aspires to someday have his work appear in big publications like Forbes, AARP Magazine, Cosmopolitan, TIME Magazine and The New York Times, to name a few.

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