Nigerian literature is on the rise. In recent years, the country’s writers, especially women, have gained international prominence. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is perhaps the most prominent Nigerian writer at the moment. However, a new generation of authors drew attention to the world for their work, especially for bringing different female realities.
Ọgbanje is a word from the Igbo culture that means an intrusive spirit that is born in a human form, and that would result in a child with a third gender. Akwaeke Emezi identifies himself as ogbanje, that is, he considers himself a non-binary person.
In 2017, her short story Who is like God won the “Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa”, which rewards the best texts not yet published that year. Her debut book, Freshwater, a fictionalized autobiography, was released in 2018. The book was nominated for the Women’s Prize, making Akwaeke the first non-binary person to compete for the award. The book was also “Editor’s Choice” by the New York Times Book Review and received complimentary reviews from major publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New Yorker, Guardian and LA Times.
“It is vigorous with a sensitive and contemporary language and still brings up the discussion about the ‘selves’ we have”, comments Aza Njeri, coordinator of the African Political Philosophy Center at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). “This link between spiritual life and material life is, in fact, an important fact and present in many works of African literature,” adds Rodrigo Ordine Graça, professor of African literature at the University of the Integration of Afro-Brazilian Lusophony (Unilab).
Oyinkan was born and raised in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. However, he graduated in Creative Writing and in Law from Kingston University, London. In 2014, she was nominated among the ten best artists in the “Eko Poetry Slam” contest in her hometown. In the same year, she also participated in the work Icatha – The Soul Eater (Naija Stories Anthology Book 2) ”, an anthology of retellings of traditional stories from Nigeria. And in 2016, she was a finalist for the “Commonwealth Short Story Prize”.
Her book “My sister, the serial killer”, in addition to being nominated for the “Women’s Prize” was also nominated as a finalist in “The Booker Prize 2019”. So far, the work has been translated into 26 languages. The rights to a cinema adaptation were acquired by British production company Working Title, responsible for films such as Billy Elliot and The Diary of Bridget Jones.
“He is quite celebrated for his narrative. The book in question is humorous and amazing, “says Aza Njeri, from UFRJ.” The book had a great resonance even outside the circuit of African literature, being marked as a best seller “comments professor Elena Brugioni, professor of African Literatures and Postcolonial Studies at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp).
For Professor Rodrigo Ordine Graça, the issues of identity shown in the book are more Westernized. He attributes this to the fact that the writer lived for many years in England. “Her work does not directly debate Nigeria’s political issues and this points to, perhaps, a new phase in the country’s literature, where politics, although present, is not the central element. The book is much more about the dynamics between the sisters and this discussion, in the book, I find very interesting ”.
Diana Omo Evans
Novelist and journalist, Diana Omo Evans was born and lives in London. Daughter of a Nigerian mother and an English father, she spent part of her childhood in Lagos.
Her debut book, “26a”, published in 2005, won three awards: Orange Award for New Writers, Betty Trask Award and deciBel Writer of the Year. Ordinary People, his third novel, won the South Bank Sky Arts Award.
As a journalist, Diana wrote for publications such as Marie Claire, The Independent, The Observer, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times and Harper’s Bazaar. Her book follows two couples going through a crisis and reflects on their middle-aged protagonist. The book, set in London, is set during the Obama election.
“Evans, of the three, besides being the oldest, is the only author who is not Nigerian, although the daughter of a Nigerian mother. I believe that this identity configuration is very marked in your debut novel ”, says Rodrigo Ordine Graça.