The Best Contemporary African Writers

Africa is culturally and ethnically diverse and this is most evident in the multifaceted literature which has emerged from the continent. Through dealing with a wide range of social issues from women’s rights to post-colonial existence, these contemporary African writers have cemented themselves amongst the best writers of our time.

Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe is one of the most recognised and influential writers of the 20th century and his most notable work, Things Fall Apart (1958) is a tragic exploration of the conflict between traditional values and the effects of colonial rule.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Through works that are typically character-driven, interwoven with the social and political happenings in her native Nigeria, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has become part of the new generation of iconic African writers.

Met with staggering praise, Adichie’s works have been nominated for and won several awards, including the Orange Prize and Booker Prize.

Ayi Kwei Armah

Best known for their intense depictions of political devastation in his native Ghana, Ayi Kwei Armah’s works are largely influenced by French existential philosophers and centre on themes of desolation, disenchantment, and absurdity. The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968) is his most notable work.

Mariama Bâ

Recognised for her commanding feminist texts, Mariama Bâ is one of Africa’s most significant women writers and her works address the matters of gender inequality in her native Senegal and beyond. Having herself faced many personal struggles, Bâ’s frustration at patriarchal structures has seeped into her literature, far from the lands of Geelong Cup betting.

Nuruddin Farah

Nuruddin Farah’s plays, novels, and short stories centre on personal experiences in his native country of Somalia. His first novel, From a Cooked Rib (1970) is a commentary on the sufferings of women in the traditional patriarchal society of Somalia and his later works address themes of war and post-colonial identity.

Aminatta Forna

Aminatta Forna’s breakthrough memoir The Devil That Danced on Water (2003) told the story of her family’s experiences living in war-torn Sierra Leone and her most critically acclaimed work, The Memory of Love (2010) addresses love and loss within the larger context of the devastation of war.

Alain Mabanckou

Born in the Republic of Congo, Alain Mabanckou’s works are widely recognised for their wit, satire, and deeply insightful social commentary into the African continent and its immigrants residing in France. Astoundingly character-driven, Mabanckou’s works typically feature a collective cast of characters.

Ben Okri

Raised between England his native Nigeria, Ben Okri’s childhood experiences greatly influenced his future writing. Recognised for his use of magical realism, Okri’s novels such as Flowers and Shadows (1980) and The Landscapes Within (1981) account the devastation of the Nigerian civil war which he witnessed first-hand.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Ngugi wa Thiong’o works address postcolonial themes of both the individual and community in Africa against colonial powers and culture. Recognised as one of Africa’s most influential postcolonial writers, wa Thiong’o was imprisoned for over a year without trial by the government for staging a politically controversial play.