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Saturday, 22 December 2018

Happily Judging 2018 in Book Covers




Ah! It’s that time of year. You know the one! When all the ‘best of …’ lists come out. From the Guardian’s Genuinely Brilliant From Cover to Cover Books (Hello, Slay in Your Lane and Akata Warrior), to the Roots 28 Brilliant Books by Black Authors (Hello, Stay With Me and Children of Blood and Bone), NYTs 100 Notable Books of 2018 (Hey, Freshwater, Friday Black, The Parking Lot Attendant, The Perfect Nanny, Washington Black) and 10 Best Books of 2018 (Hello, The Perfect Nanny and Washington Black), and one of my favourite best of lists visually, NPRs Best Books of 2018 (Hello, Freshwater, My Sister, the Serial Killer, Children of Blood and Bone, The Perfect Nanny, Washington Black, Housegirl). Oh and Vogue India have a brilliant list of Top 50 Books of 2018. And for lovers of African Literature, look no further than Brittle Paper’s 48 Notable Books of 2018, and also check out Africa's must-read books of 2018 on African Arguments.


Well, here’s another ‘best of’ list, but one based solely on book covers because well, at this point it’s no secret that I lovingly judge books by their covers. Plus, African book covers keep getting better and better each year. So why not celebrate the African book cover, especially when they all draw me in, in their own beautiful, unique and creative ways.

I have also loved learning about designers, such as Kimberly Glyder who designed Tsitsi Dangarembga's This Mournable Body and whose illustrations are stunning. Check out the redesigns of Alice Walker's Books. And really love reading about the process behind designing a cover, such as Sarahmay Wilkinson on designing Mia Cuoto's Woman of the Ashes:

When I sat down to begin I had a couple of different things I wanted to explore; the materials of the place (sand, dirt, arid air), the magical and ethereal qualities in Cuoto's writing, and the textiles of the region (which were linked to regional history and status).

 Or Michael J. Windsor on Oyinkan Braithwaite's My Sister, The Serial Killer:
Within the first few chapters of reading, the specific idea popped into my mind. So much of it is about Korede having to clean up after her sister's murders. When you see the book from a distance, you think the girl on the cover is the killer, but when you inspect the image, you see the knife reflected in her glasses and the cleaning products and it's like: What is going on?
So, as much as possible, I have included the designer behind the cover, and I will continue to update whenever I find out another designer behind the selected covers. For more 2018 book covers from this year, check the 2018 African literary calendar. And for other best covers of 2018 lists, check out Paste’s 18 Best Book Covers of 2018, Book Riots Best Book Covers of 2018, NYTs 12 Best Book Covers of 2018, LitHub’s 75 Best Book Covers of 2018, and The Casual Optimist’s Book Covers of Note 2018. What have been some of your best African book covers of 2018?

Cover design by Mark Robinson





Designed by Sarahmay Wilkinson



Designed by Charlotte Stroomer


Some non-fiction up in the mix.

Designed by Kimberly Glyder

Designed by Donna Payne, based on the original US artwork created by Julianna Lee




Design by Michael J Windsor

Designed byRichard Deas

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