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Sunday, 11 December 2016

My Favourite African Book Covers in 2016



The British Library by Yinka Shonibare MBE


Here is a place where I lovingly judge book covers. Here is also a place where I look back at some of my favourite African book covers in 2016. Like the UK edition of Helen Oyeyemi's What is Not Yours is Not Yours and the UK/Commonwealth edition of S.L Grey's The Apartment. Something about the solid background of both books and the object in the centre. I particularly love the texture and rustic nature of What is Not Yours is Not Yours - it is even more gorgeous in real life, particularly with its exposed spine.



The exposed spine ... image via Picador



Some of the covers I absolutely loved focused on aspects of bodies (particularly female bodies) from the neck up, such as full-on faces in the German edition of Nnedi Okorafor's Lagune which took my breathe away the first time I saw it - the detail, the fluidity ...  I also fell in love at first sight with Irenosen Okojie's Speak Gigantular cover. I loved the colour, the character's hair, the absence of a literal mouth. Then there's the presence of loudness in Selling Lip Service - Tammy Baikie's debut novel.  I wanted to know why the owner of the mouth was so vocal! Or maybe they weren't, but I just had to know. Both Speak Gigantular and Lip Service speak volumes!!!! I also loved the hair in Kopana Matlwa's Period Pains - to have natural hair front and centre on a book cover, particularly when it's so contested. 

Cover illustration by Greg Ruth

Cover design by James Nunn



Then there is the Chinese edition of Nnedi Okorafor's Binti. I mean look at that!!! 

Illustrated by Liu Junwe

... and the UK edition of Okorafor's Akata Witch! I am also extremely biased when it comes to this particular illustrator - Onyinye Iwu and love everything she does.


The covers I loved were also more abstract in their representation of people - from Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing to Emmanuel Iduma's The Sound of Things to Come and Chinelo Okparanta's Under the Udala Trees



Cover art by Victor Ehikhamenor

Cover art by Victor Ehikhamenor

Then there are the reprint issues of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's books. Again, look at them!!!
Covers designed by Jo Walker


There were even more abstract covers that stood out for me, including Safia Elhillo's Asmarani as well as Sarah Ladipo Manyika's Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun - this cover makes makes me feel both happy and sad. 



I clearly also had a thing for covers with yellow in them - including Nick Mulgrew's Stations ...

Cover designed by Louis de Villiers
Stations also has illustrations by skullboy

... but give me a yellow cover which also has bodies or faces and I'm sold. Take, for instance Yewande Omotoso's The Woman Next Door ... 


 .... as well as Nick Wood's Azanian Bridges! Okay this cover is more orangey-yellow, than full on yellow, but face!



Last but certainly not the least are the covers of Fred Khumalo's #Zuptas Must Fall and other rants (okay so maybe I also had a thing for orange) and Jen Thorpe's The Peculiar - in fact it was the cover that first attracted me to the book.



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