In recent years, African literature has broken free of what Wole Soyinka called the “orange ghetto” of the Heinemann African Writers Series, which in 1962 launched the series with the one African book that everyone seems to know: Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Writers from around the continent—José Eduardo Agualusa, Doreen Baingana, Mia Couto, Emmanuel Dongala, Nuruddin Farah, Petina Gappah, Yasmina Khadra, Zakes Mda, Maaza Mengiste, Abdellah Taïa—continue to win awards and gain international recognition. From Nigeria alone, authors like Chris Abani, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Teju Cole, Helon Habila, E.C. Osondu, and Helen Oyeyemi have joined the pantheon already occupied by Achebe, Ben Okri, Wole Soyinka, and Amos Tutuola. A steady stream of anthologies has introduced American readers to fresh voices from Africa. But something has been missing. These anthologies have focused almost exclusively on fiction, ignoring a wealth of extraordinary true-life narratives.
more from Geoff Wisner at The Quarterly Conversation here.