#YNaija2019Review: An Orchestra of Minorities, In the Nude, Prince of Monkeys… The 10 Notable Books of the year

These books kept Nigerians reading all year round. The world took notice too.

A Particular Kind of Black Man- Tope Folarin

Tope Folarin expands on some of the key ideas and themes embedded in his 2013 Caine prize winning short story, Miracle for this accomplished debut novel about a Nigerian family living in Utah and their difficult assimilation into American living. Sweeping in scope, A Particular Kind of Black Man is a poignant consideration of memory, manhood, home and identity as seen through the eyes of a first-generation Nigerian-American.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

An Orchestra of Minorities- Chigozie Obioma

Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize- Obioma’s second merry go round- An Orchestra of Minorities is a mythic, contemporary twist on The Odyssey that follows a Nigerian poultry farmer who sacrifices everything to win the woman he loves. Ambitious and challenging, An Orchestra of Minorities is a heart-wrenching epic about destiny and determination that borrows heavily from Igbo beliefs and mythologies.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

David Mogo, Godhunter- Suyi Davies Okungbowa

In this atmospheric urban fantasy set in Lagos, David Mogo, demigod and godhunter, has one job only, to capture two of the most powerful gods in the city and deliver them to the wizard gangster known as Lukmon Ajala. Split into three interlinked sections, David Mogo, Godhunter embraces some decent worldbuilding inspired by Nigerian mythologies and marks the arrival of a promising talent in the realm of fantasy fiction.

Publisher: Abbadon

The Freedom Artist- Ben Okri

Ben Okri’s latest is a political fable set in a dystopian world that sounds very Orwellian- no books, zero free thought, average citizens. A woman has disappeared and a desperate search by her loved one leads to a terrible realization. The Freedom Artist is more though as Okri spins a fantastic, dense world of lies, and violence, nightmares and dreamscapes.

Publisher: Head of Zeus

I’m telling the truth, but I’m lying- Bassey Ikpi

A stunning, edge snatching collection of essays, I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying is the work of an artist exorcising her demons and reclaiming her agency. Slam poet Bassey Ikpi explores her life as a Nigerian-American immigrant, mother, daughter and artist through the lens of her bipolar II and anxiety diagnosis. This deeply personal memoir in essays implodes preconceptions of normalcy and mental health with radical honesty and brutal intimacy.

Publisher: HarperPerennial

In the Nude – Logan February

In this revealing collection, poet Logan February considers the concepts of grief, identity and religion, charting the pains and rewards that come with existing on the fringes and living as the other. The prodigious February brings his audience to experience new perspectives with poems that chart the realities of queer identity, especially as they relate to the African environment.

Publisher: Ouida

Nigeria’s Soldiers of Fortune: The Abacha and Obasanjo Years – Max Siollun

Prominent military historian Max Siollun demonstrates with his latest, Nigeria’s Soldiers of Fortune: The Abacha and Obasanjo Years that Nigeria’s story is in many ways, the story of its military. Modern Nigeria cannot be understood without an understanding of past military governments. And so Siollun’s book provides a detailed summary of the role of Nigeria’s military, especially during the military dictatorship years of Abacha and Obasanjo.

Publisher: Hurst

Nudibranch – Irenosen Okojie

In this diversely original new collection of short stories, offbeat characters are caught up in extraordinary situations that test the boundaries of reality. A love-hungry goddess arrives on an island inhabited by eunuchs, a girl from Martinique moonlights as a Grace Jones impersonator and a homeless man goes right back to the very beginning, through a gap in time. Pick your poison.

Publisher: Dialogue

Prince of Monkeys – Nnamdi Ehirim

Nnamdi Ehirim’s exhilarating debut is a fine addition to the coming of age subgenre. Tackling politics, class, power and spirituality, Prince of Monkeys is set in middle-class Lagos during the ‘80s and ‘90s and follows a group of close friends as they discover Lagos on their own terms. Following some political turmoil, the young adults are forced to grow up, picking up real world lessons along the way.

Publisher: Counterpoint

Travelers- Helon Habila

Immigration stories may have been done to death but Helon Habila, a national treasure finds a startlingly imaginative way of exploring the African diaspora in Europe with his lean new novel. Travelers tells universal truths about love and loss, pain and connection through the story of a Nigerian immigrant in America who visits Berlin and finds himself increasingly drawn to the stories of other travelers from around the world.

Publisher: W.W Norton Company

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