Brittle Paper

2018: Most Anticipated Reads

An annual ritual you may call it but every year, we put together a list of books we cannot wait to get our hands on. This time, we got together 21 literary connoisseurs, bloggers and editors, and asked for their most anticipated read of 2018 from an African or author with African heritage. From them emerged a potpourri of genres, 10 debuts, 9 forthcoming novels and a consensus: Emezi's Freshwater is coming for all your coins! So, start piling them.


Historian and literary blogger

Black British history is cast aside by academia, and this negation of Black British history allows Britain to carry on its myth of racial harmony and egalitarianism. As an African, I think it is important to educate myself on not only the country and continent I’m from but also on the diaspora. This book is black excellence, and I am really looking forward to educating myself on my British sisters and brothers!


Founder/Editor, Brittle Paper

Adeyemi burst into the limelight last year when the news of her million-dollar book deal got out. She is the second African writer to attract that kind of payout. So that’s exciting. But the story itself is intriguing. It is a fantasy narrative which draws some inspiration from Yoruba cosmology and features a powerful female lead character. Children of Blood and Bone could very easily be the next mega hit YA novel…like The Hunger Games, perhaps.


Writer, book reviewer, and blogger, Black Book Quotes

An American Marriage    - Tayari Jones

An American Marriage - Tayari Jones

It is a story of upwardly mobile newlyweds whose love is tested when the husband gets jail time for a crime he didn't commit. Having never read Jones before, I am really looking forward to being introduced to her work. After having loved Ayobami Adebayo's Stay With Me and Imbolo Mbue's Behold the Dreamers in 2017, I'm super excited to read another nuanced portrayal of how structural injustice trickles down into romantic relationships.


Writer and editor

Akwaeke’s writing is not of this world. To be honest, her style isn’t for everyone. She’s one of those love-them-to-your-bone-marrow or hate-them-with-everything-in-you type of authors. Iweala, on the other hand, had a good first book, so I’m excited to see what he’s done with Speak No Evil. It’s interesting that even with his well known surname in Nigeria, the literary community knows him as his own person.


Writer and content creator,  Afoma Umesi

Hold   -  Michael Donkor

Hold - Michael Donkor

Michael Donkor’s Hold - to be published in July by 4th Estate - is definitely high on my TBR list. It is a story of unexpected kinship between a housegirl and her masters’ daughter, set in London and Ghana. Hold promises to be a captivating read from a new African voice. Besides, with a cover like that, who wouldn’t be interested?


Book blogger, Kenyan Bibliophile

I’ve always been fascinated by race relations. It seems my thirst for wanting to understand how people can mistreat a certain group based on their skin color is yet to be quenched. Hurston’s book is based on her 1931 interviews with Cudjo Lewis who was brought to the US as a slave in 1860. Barracoon is set to be released in May by HarperCollins, almost half a century after the author’s death.


Postgraduate student and literary enthusiast

Tales of the Metric System   -  Imraan Coovadia

Tales of the Metric System - Imraan Coovadia

My most-anticipated African read of 2018 is Imraan Coovadia's Tales of the Metric System (Umuzi, 2014). Coovadia is one of South Africa's most exciting contemporary writers, and I'm looking forward to reading his latest (though not-so-new) novel, which reflects on the nation that is South Africa through its transition from the atrocities of apartheid to the uncertainties of the present.


Co-founder, Afrikult.

I'm a big lover of historical fiction. When I first heard that Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani was due for release in March, I immediately leapt to my laptop and began reading the reviews. The endorsement from Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is very promising; the overflow of praise this novel has received won me over completely. I'm intrigued to see where this story takes me, what I learn of colonial Kenya's 'iron snake', how the narratives are interweaved meanwhile discovering Peter Kimani's work. I'm equally excited and intrigued by Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi.

Freshwater   -  Akwaeke Emezi

Freshwater - Akwaeke Emezi

I fell in love with Akwaeke’s words after reading ‘Sometimes, the fire is not fire’. I can’t wait to read her debut book and immerse myself in the story and completely savour it. Freshwater is part fiction, part memoir, and Akwaeke blends the two beautifully. I’m excited to go into new worlds with her and have my reality and worldview completely shaken.



Literary blogger, James Murua

Freshwater   -  Akwaeke Emezi

Freshwater - Akwaeke Emezi

The only book I am eyeing right now is Akwaeke Emezi debut novel "Freshwater." So why am I looking forward to this read? Well, I read her Commonwealth Prize winning short story 'Who is Like God’ which announced her as an important new voice in African writing, and I LOVED IT. With the talent from that wonderful short story, I want to sample more of her prose.

Bri(tish)   -  Afua Hirsch

Bri(tish) - Afua Hirsch

Blackass   -  A. Igoni Barrett

Blackass - A. Igoni Barrett

Akua: The novel presents a melange of cultures in its quest to explore answers to the question "where are you from?" As British born Ghanaian, I can relate to the pressure of self-identity when it concerns that provocative and also annoying question. I'm confident this book is going to be amazeballs.


Mel: Picture yourself, a person of African descent, and you wake up one morning with blue eyes and freckles! I've toyed with the concept with friends and family so it's no surprise that I was drawn to reading this book in 2018. I'm looking forward to the comical flare this satirical novel has to offer.

I actually just posted some books (56 of them) that I'm looking forward to this year. But I'd say Hold by Michael Donkor and The Hundred Wells of Salaga by Ayesha Harruna Attah are the ones I'm very eager to read. Nafkote Tamirat and Akwaeke Emezi's debuts - The Parking Lot Attendant and Freshwater - are also highly recommended!



It's easy to fall for this book, really. A seven-figure deal, a Fox 2000 film option, a gorgeous cover and a six-chapter sampler (released in late 2017) everyone's gushing over. But what interests me most is how this book will tackle matters of identity, community and courage. People are calling it Black Lives Matter meets Fantasy. Who wouldn't want to read that?

So many good books are coming out in 2018, and I am looking forward to reading Wake Me When I’m Gone by Odafe Atogun. He captured me with Taduno’s Song, which I found was almost spiritual for me. I am also chuffed that Buchi Emecheta’s books will be re-published this year. Buchi was a woman who came way before her time and her writing is still relevant today. Head Above Water which is her memoir is definitely the one I am most excited about.


Avid reader and book blogger

Always Another Country  -  Sisonke Msimang

Always Another Country - Sisonke Msimang

This is a book that has been doing the rounds on Instagram (bookstagram). Out of curiosity, as always the case, I looked it up and found that the storyline seems compelling and very interesting. I'd really like to travel back in time with this particular book especially since the Sisonke Msimang has South African roots.


Founder and Editor-In-Chief, The Republic Journal

The Rise of the African Novel  -   Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ

The Rise of the African NovelMũkoma wa Ngũgĩ

I’m most looking forward to reading Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ’s The Rise of the African Novel: Politics of Language, Identity, and Ownership. According to a tweet the author posted in 2017, The Rise of the African Novel explores “what it means for the current generation of writers and scholars of African literature not to have an imaginative consciousness of their literary past.”

Ghana Must Go   -  Taiye Selasi

Ghana Must Go - Taiye Selasi

Ghana Must Go – I have watched a lot of Taiye Selasi Interviews and thoroughly enjoyed her brilliance. Ghana Must Go is up next on my list. I have heard contradicting opinions about this book, and I want to see for myself. Some seem to love it and others, not so much. I read that her writing in this book reads like poetry and as a huge fan of poetry, it’s a yes from me.


Researcher, Writer and Editor

Freshwater   -  Akwaeke Emezi

Freshwater - Akwaeke Emezi

After reading her short story, Who Is Like God, I became interested in Emezi's writing and looked forward to reading more of her work. My curiosity about the book increased because of my interest in Psychology. I read in a blurb on her site which says the main character has several selves; making identity of the major themes of the book.

What We Lose   -  Zinzi Clemmons

What We Lose - Zinzi Clemmons

Maybe because it was described as the debut book of the year by Vogue in 2017. Or, perhaps, because I am curious to know how a pretty face like Zinzi Clemmons captures grief — a theme I want to learn more about this year; that is, how does one handle loss or grief? What We Lose reminds me of my most potent 2016 read - When Death Becomes Air - and I just want to relive that moment again.


Founding Editor, Afreada

Hold   -  Michael Donkor

Hold - Michael Donkor

My anticipated read of 2018 has to be Hold by Michael Donkor. I remember smiling when I first heard about this book. During a conversation with the Editor, I was informally introduced to the three main characters, “wayward” Amma, born to Ghanaian parents in Brixton; “sensible” Belinda, a housegirl sent from Ghana to London, and Mary, left behind in Kumasi. This debut is bound to explore issues of cultural navigation. As a Nigerian-Londoner, Hold already holds a very special place in my heart.

Freshwater   -  Akwaeke Emezi

Freshwater - Akwaeke Emezi

Akwaeke's Who Will Claim You remains one of my favourite creative non-fiction by our generation of African writers. Her forthcoming novel, Freshwater, is thus my most anticipated read. What heightened my anticipation is the 'blasphemy' African Book Addict describes in it. She warned 'Christians' that the book may have them wondering if they aren't sinning by reading it. It is a temptation I intend to fail at resisting.


We would like to hear from you too - what is your most anticipated read in 2018?


Prose: How To Write About Northern Nigeria By Pwaangulongii Dauod

This piece was originally published by Brittle Paper.

Do not begin until you have a large map of Nigeria before you. You will need it: at least for inspiration (or direction), or for the sake of knowing how big the size of the North is. Note: Nigeria is a beloved country and your writing is an importance piece on her largest region.

Your main character should be an imam, or a beggar, or farmer, or a herdsman. Or, all of it. But must be an illiterate and a Muslim who is not interested in science and technology. Or, he should be an almajiri because you love, because you care. However, whoever of these you chose as character must be empty, merely existing because he was born and needs to be alive. Involve him in situations that irritate and annoy the readers. Make sure in your writing, the readers pity him but should never love him or get anything about his humanity. You must do this. Because you so much love Nigeria. And he is the singular reason this (your) beloved country is backward. You can begin to show these in a well set out (a well polished) prologue, because you are a good writer.

You must avoid complex plot(s) and toughened language: the Northerner is simple in thought, frail in worldview and philosophically poor, and should not be portrayed in “high Literature”. Use: ‘Childish’, ‘innocent’, ‘victim’, ‘Docile’, ‘Frivolous’, ‘Trifling’, and maybe ‘Silly’ to describe him. Do not skip these except your poetic license has been seized. He needs nothing other than food, sleep, and always f__________ his ten years old wife. See to it that these details are given to the readers: their presence in your text may win you a prize. Or a trip, on a business class, to Western metropolises.

Use the present continuous tense in your narrative. Avoid the past participle tense; the North you are writing about has never changed. Use this verb tense. It reinforces the readers’ consciousness to the currency of your thematic concerns.

If your writing is about a juvenile, the title has to be eponymous: ‘Abdulkadir. The Brave Herdsman’, ‘Mallam Ilia’s Servant’, ‘Dantani, the Beggar’. You may use other titles like: ‘Zubairu, The Gateman’, ‘Zainabo, the Beauty Queen’. Or ‘How Abu Became a Mai suya’, ‘Kwainam the Village Witch’. Use these. You know why you should use them. And if you are writing a ‘serious’ text for adults, always use these words or expressions in your title or as your title: ‘Arewa’, ‘Trials of Ahmadu Bello’, ‘Kano’, ‘Almajiri’, ‘Hausa-Fulani, The Problem Within’, ‘Lord Lugard and The Biggest Mistake’. Or use these: ‘Sharia’, ‘The Wretcheds of the North’ or ‘The Wretcheds in the North’, ‘Why Nigeria lags Behind’, or ‘Aboki’. Use these, it shows you are angry, intelligent and bold. Use them because you are a writer; every writer is angry, intelligent and bold.

Mention early in your writing how much the Northerner admires blood and detests parenting. Include the way he goes about executing this in ethno-religious riots. Never give these pictures without using any of these words: ‘Genocide’, ‘Pogrom’, ‘Jihad’, ‘terrorism’, ‘Ethnic-cleansing’, or you use ‘Zangon Kataf’, ‘Chibok’. Use them as key words when writing about violence in the North. Always show in your writing that the North is an Islamic collective that carries out jihad. It is true. They will enhance the relevance of your writing at international fora. And you know what this means. You know.

Your Northern characters feed on starch, sugarcane, dates and nothing more. They do not know what continental or sophisticated or well-cooked meals are. Never show them eating noodles and spaghetti on dining tables. They have no names, so let them be called ‘Mallam’, ‘Malo’ or ‘Aboki’. Depict them roaming about your city, state or country inconveniencing you and your people with their stench.

Northern female characters must be women in purdah. Do not tell the readers why. Everybody knows. Do not forget to portray all of them as VVF patients. Include how their children and husbands suffer from leprosy and polio. They look pale and pinched. Dirty, smelly and ignorant. Demonstrate how much you know the Northern woman by showing a teen-ager in her menstruation.

Have your spatial setting as a hot and unattractive place. No streetlights, clubs, bars and hotels. It is made up of farmlands, huts, and mosques, with donkeys, cattle, sheep and chicken roaming about. You can include how close it is to the Sahara desert. No school: You should, however, show some children chanting the Quran under a tree. It is the only school in the North. The huts are large abodes because Northerners sleep in there with their animals. Do not feel too revealing about these. What you are doing is good. These non-urban details enhance the importance of your piece. It is for Nigeria. It is for NGOs. You want to civilize your country. Or because you are bold and want to win a prize. Or, you want to just give shape to your thoughts in a fine text.

Temporal setting could be anytime. This year or last year. This century or last century. It is the same North, not much has changed. However, when it is this year or this century make sure you depict the groundnut pyramids in a flashback somewhere around your concluding stage. It must be in a flashback. You know the importance of this.

Be democratic in your writing (after all your beloved Nigeria is a democratic nation). Look at the map before you and notice the North-Central. You should refer to the people there as Middle-Beltans and refer to the people beyond as core Northerners. You must see and get this difference. It will help you. Do not allow the difference get you fidgeted anyway. Treat the North as though it is a lame expanse. Never forget to tell your readers, hereupon, that Northerners in the North-Central are nothing other than foolish ‘Civil Warriors’ and unfortunate people.

Include harmattan-stricken boys sleeping under trees, in mosques, or scavenging on mounds of rubbish among your characters. And include young girls in a mass wedding somewhere in Sokoto or Bauchi. Beside this, give the picture of a naked child, standing shoeless, before a hut picking his nose and eating the dry snot. Do not skip the details of his small (uncircumcised) penis. It means a lot to your readers. Your other Northern characters should include Snake charmers, Islamic clerics, Herdsmen, Blacksmiths, and Rainmakers. They are the true images of the North. Describe, in detail, how they remain the reasons why your beloved country’s North is so poor, and know nothing about family planning. Never deny your readers details on mortality rate, leprosy, poliomyelitis, whooping cough, and malaria. Show that the North is too diseased.

Always use the omniscient or authorial voice in your narrative, because you know everything about the North and can show them in a fine literature. Use this to reveal the Northerner in all he does. Your readers would be glad if they see how he fondles his ‘underage’ wife’s p____, the penetration, the blood, the moans. Do not tell; show how private and how unromantic the lovemaking is. Because you are a civilized kind. Because, with your all-seeing eyes you know the Northerner.

Or employ the first person point of view to evoke pity from the readers when the character is a homeless, parentless child. Or, when she is a hijab-wearing girl from Kaura Namoda detonating bombs in Kafanchan or when he is the old man from Yola who sells Suya in Ikoyi or Port Harcourt or when he is the aboki from Maiduguri or Kano who guards houses in Lekki and Maitama. Try to do this except you are writing about Aliko Dangote or Mamman Shatta or about the Northern woman you were sleeping with during your NYSC or university days.

On the other hand, you must avoid having your northern character masturbating or wet-dreaming. Deny your readers scenes that depict him having oral or anal sex. He is not that complex. He is a crude simple being. And those are sexual complexities. You know, yes you know.

You will need a lot of crude images to show that the North is too conservative: Anti-progress or Anti Western. Anti-technology or Anti Modern. Anti-Nigeria or Anti-1914. Do not avoid these details in your writing because you so much love Nigeria and your writing is an important opinion about her largest region.

Mention near your conclusion where Ahmadu Bello is saying something about being a Southerner and Christian and being a Northerner and Muslim. Or, Yakubu Gowon saying something about Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation. Do not forget this. You already know who they are.

Always end your writing with an ellipsis. Because you do not want to say the other things. Because your readers should think out the other things. Because you are angry, intelligent and bold. Do this because you are a good writer.
— Pwaangulongii Dauod

Source: Pwaangulongii Dauod via Brittle Paper.

Image: Alia Ali via The Sole Adventurer.