Brittle Paper’s Notable African Books of 2022


By Ainehi Edoro-Glines:

In spite of the enduring challenges of African book publishing, 2022 was a luminous year of brilliant debut authors, exciting genres and engaging ideas.

At Brittle Paper, we have attempted to capture how richly and expansively African literary culture has grown this year with our 100 Notable African Books of 2022 list.


Our notable books list is in its fourth year. It is aimed at helping readers stay current on new, exciting and noteworthy African books.

It also conveys the diversity of African writing in English. In 2022, 23 countries were represented, including Djibouti and Burkina Faso, for the first time.

Featured writers include familiar names, such as Tsitsi Dangaremgba, Nnedi Okorafor, Sofia Samatar and Niq Mhlongo, as well as brand-new voices such as Noor Naga, Eloghosa Osunde and Okwirri Oduor.


The list also offered a unique perspective into major trends in African literature. For example, it confirmed the hunch that, over the last few years, women have become more visible in the African literary space and this trend is not slowing down.

Thirty of the 100 books on the list are debut books. From this we know that the culture is getting a good bit of fresh blood, which might also mean African literary culture is expanding in the direction of new, emerging voices as opposed to older, established writers.

The diversity of genres and subject matter is stunning. The list features poetry, fiction and nonfiction but also crime thriller, travel memoir, romance fiction, speculative fiction and many more. There is something in there for everyone!

The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz Bazawule, published by Ballantine

Bazawule’s debut is the story of a young black couple who end up in Nkrumah’s Ghana while on the run from killing a white man in Alabama.

These Impossible Things by Salma El-Wardany, published by Grand Central Publishing & Trapeze Books

In El-Wardany’s debut novel, three women share an experience that shakes their relationships with each other and threatens their bond.

Vagabonds! By Eloghosa Osunde, published by Riverhead Books

Vagabonds! captures the essence of Lagos through queer and trans experiences, filtered through magical realist elements. The story is haunting and irresistible.

Things They Lost by Okwiri Oduor, published by Scribner

In her debut novel, Oduor takes us to a dreamy East African world where women are at their most powerful when they lean into the multiple selves and worlds they embody.

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way by Alistair Mackay, published by Kwela

Mackay’s debut novel is post-apocalyptic story set in what is left of Cape Town. Three queer friends attempt to make sense of a world falling apart and losing itself in the allure of virtual reality.

The Second Verse by Onke Mazibuko, published by Penguin Random House South Africa

South African psychologist Onke Mazibuko examines the emotional and psychic experience of teenagers. The novel is about a boy navigating the confusions of coming of age.

On Rotation by Shirlene Obuobi, published by Avon Books

Ghanaian cardiologist Shirlene Obuobi’s debut’s book is the story of a young Ghanaian woman who finds love amid the whirlwind of life as a medical student.

Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye, published by Harper Teen

In this stunning debut, Falaye draws from Yoruba Orisha mythology to weave a gripping tale about a girl who possesses the power to change the world.

The Merciless Ones by Namina Forna, published by Delacorte Press

Forna’s intricately built fantasy world inspired by Sierra Leonean folklore is still dark and enchantingly fantastical in the second installment of the deathless trilogy: How You Grow Wings.

Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor, published by Viking Books for Young Readers

The third book in the Africanjujuist Nsibidi Series is about witchy powers “that zip, buzz, creep, swell on this planet and beyond.”

Blood to Poison by Mary Watson, published by Bloomsbury UK

Savannah is destined to die due to an old curse, but she fights for survival at all cost. Blood Poison is a feminist story about girls who use their anger to confront the world.

Even When Your Voice Shakes by Ruby Yayra Goka, published by Norton Young Readers

A maid for a wealthy family has to choose between silence or calling out her assaulter at the risk of losing everything.

An African Abroad by Olabisi Ajala, published by Masobe Books & Olongo Africa

Masobe Books and Olongo Africa join forces to revive this Nigerian travel memoir classic. It chronicles the adventures of Àjàlá during his trip around the world on his Vespa!

Broken Porcelain by Relebone Rirhandzu eAfrika, published by Blackbird Books

The Nine Lives of Depression Survivors podcast host bares it all in this memoir about her struggle with mental illness, calling for more understanding and less stigma.

The White Mosque by Sofia Samatar, published by Catapult

Fans of Samatar will encounter a new side of the sci-fi author in her memoir where she retraces the steps of German-speaking Mennonites who left Russia for central Asia a century ago.

A Visible Man by Edward Enninful, published by Penguin Books

Edward Enninful is the first black editor-in-chief of British Vogue. The memoir chronicles his amazing journey from the city of Tema in Ghana to astronomical success in fashion.

Can Themba: The Making and Breaking of the Intellectual Tsotsi by Siphiwo Mahala, published by Wits University Press

Can Themba was an iconic Drum-era journalist in South Africa. Mahala brings Themba’s storied career to life in a vivid depiction of his evolution as a cultural figure.

Radius: A Story of Feminist Revolution by Yasmin El-Rifae, published by Verso

Examining the Tahrir Square uprising and its aftermath, journalist El-Rifae looks at how revolutions can fail women but also the powerful solidarities that lead to truly meaningful impact.

Black and Female by Tsitsi Dangaremgba, published by Faber Books

Dangarembga is a literary powerhouse. Her first nonfiction book takes readers through the life experiences and lessons that made her the writer and filmmaker she is today.

Africa is not a Country by Dipo Faloyin, published by WW Norton & Company

Using humour and deep insights, Faloyin destroys assumption after assumption about Africa as a world of famine and safaris.

How to Write about Africa by Binyavanga Wainaina, publisher by Penguin Books

Binyavanga’s untimely death at 48 is still a shock. This collection gathers some of his well-known essays exploring sexuality, art, history, food and Africa.—Mail and Guardian

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