2018 in books: an (African) literary calendar

by - 19:58

A new year and even more exciting times for African literature. So here's a literary calendar of the first half of 2018, which I will be updating throughout the year.


It's all about the women in January with three exciting books coming out. First, there's the English translation of Leila Slimani's Chanson Douce, which won the Prix Goncourt. Translated to Lullaby (UK edition)/The Perfect Nanny (US edition), it's the story of a middle-class couple who employ the 'perfect nanny' which leads to very fatal consequences. 

Also out in January - the concluding part of Nnedi Okorafor's award winning Binti trilogy. In Binti: The Night Masquerade, Binti has returned to her home planet, believing that the violence of the Meduse has been left behind, and it is left to Binti and her new friend, Mwinyi to intervene and try to prevent a war. 

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi's award winning debut, Kintu, which reimagines Uganda's history through the cursed history of the Kintu clan also gets its UK release date.


This month, it's all about anticipated debuts and even more anticipated re-issues. There's Akwaeke Emezi's debut, Freshwater exploring the surreal experience of a young Nigerian woman who develops separate selves within her - the book is told from the perspective of the main character's different selves. 

In the realm of non-fiction, there's The Wife's Tale by Aida Edemariam - described as an 'intimate memoir' and 'extraordinary story of an indomitable 95-year-old woman - and of the most extraordinary century in Ethiopia's history'. 

Non-fiction also out in February is Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging by Afua Hirsch - a personal and provocative investigation exploring a British crisis of identity centred on Britain's 'awkward, troubled relationship with our history'.

February also sees the reissue of many of Buchi Emecheta's works, including Destination Biafra, Kehinde, In the Ditch and Head Above Water. The new covers have all been designed by Victor Ehikhamenor


This month sees the release of another anticipated book, Tomi Adeyemi's debut Children of Blood and Bone - book one of what sounds like a very exciting fantasy trilogy (that is also soon to be a major motion picture) about magic, the loss of magic and the possibility of bringing it back and bringing down the ruling monarchy in the process.

Nafkote Tamirat's coming-of-age story, The Parking Lot Attendant about a young girl in Boston's tightly-knit Ethiopian community is a tale of 'fatherhood, national identity, and what it means to be an immigrant in America today'.

In Uzodinma Iweala's Speak No Evil, a revelation shared between two privileged teenagers from very different backgrounds sets off a chain of events with devastating consequences.

There's also the UK edition of Peter Kimani's Dance of the Jakaranda, set in the shadow of Kenya's independence from Britain and tracing the lives of three men: a preacher, a colonial administrator and an Indian technician.  

Chuma Nwokolo's The Extinction of Menai is also out this month in the US. Set in a village in Niger Delta, the novel is described as encompassing 'bioethics, language extinction and Nigerian history and diaspora'.


There's Aminatta Forna's Happiness set in London and bringing together disparate lives and the true nature of happiness after two strangers collide on Waterloo Bridge. 

Diana Evan's Ordinary People is also published this month. Also set in (South) London, it is described as 'an intimate, immersive study of identity and parenthood, sex and grief, friendship and aging, and the fragile architecture of love'.

Ngugi Wa Thiong'o's prison memoir, Wrestling with the Devil, which charts the year he was thrown in a Kenyan jail without charge is also published for the first time in the US this month. 

She Called Me Woman edited by Azeenarh Mohammed, Chitra Nagarajan and Aisha Salau is a collection bringing together 30 unique narratives on what it means to be a queer Nigerian woman comes out in April. 

Cynthia Jele's The Ones with Purpose is also out in April, but I don't have much information on it yet. 


Ayesha Haruna Attah's
The Hundred Wells of Salaga is also out in May. Set in pre-colonial Ghana during the height of the slave trade, it is  a story of courage, forgiveness, love and freedom told through the experiences of two women. 

Also published in May - Sarah Lotz's Missing Person about a group of amateur detectives infiltrated by the sadistic killer whose case they're investigating.


June sees the publication of Novuyo Rosa Tshuma's House of Stones set in modern-day Zimbabwe and spanning thirty years since the overthrow of British rule - described as a story 'about cuckoos in the family nest, the death of colonial Rhodesia and the bloody birth of corrupt Zimbabwe'.  

Okay, okay, I said this was for the first half of the year, but a brief glimpse beyond.  


Moving between Ghana and London, Hold by Michael Donkor follows three young women navigating their way into adulthood.


In This Mournable Body out in August, Tsitsi Dangarembga returns to the protagonist of her acclaimed first novel, Nervous Conditions, to examine how the hope and potential of a young girl and a fledgling nation can sour over time and become a bitter and floundering struggle for survival. 


In Diriye Osman's We Once Belonged to the Sea two women - a reclusive queer Somali artist and a gifted Iranian-Somali teenage punk - both have survived extraordinary circumstances and find unexpected solace, inspiration and friendship when their lives intersect. 

There are also books that should be out in 2018, but I am still waiting on more information on release dates. These include: Imraan Coovadia's A Spy in Time described as an 'African time travel novel', Emmanuel Iduma's A Stranger's Pose  - a book of travel stories, Abnelfattah Kilito's The Tongue of Adam and The Clash of Images, Niq Mhlongo's new collection of short stories Soweto, Under the Apricot Tree, Mphthumi Ntabeni's The Broken River Tent about the life and times of a Xhosa chief who was at the forefront of fighting British colonialism in the Eastern Cape during the nineteenth century, and Sue Nyathi's The Golddiggers about the experiences of Zimbabwean immigrants in Johannesburg.

No idea when these will be published, but also Petina Gappah's The Last Journey of Doctor Livingstone, as well as part two and three in Tade Thompson's Rosewater Trilogy. Further afield - to January 2019 - is the follow-up to Margaret Busby's landmark anthology Daughters of Africa. The new anthology, New Daughters of Africa will bring together the work of over 200 women writers of African descent and 'charts a contemporary literary canon from 1900'.

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