14 award-winning African authors you should know


There’s a whole host of authors from Africa who have made a splash on the international stage. Scroll through the gallery to see just a few of the award-winning stars you should look out for.
Maaza Mengiste‘s novel “The Shadow King” was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2020, following widespread acclaim for her 2010 book “Beneath the Lion’s Gaze.”
Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mengiste has lived in Nigeria and Kenya, and now lives in the United States where she is a professor at Queens College, New York.
Nina Subin

Nigerian-American Nnedi Okorafor is a writer of science fiction, Africanfuturism and comic books.
She has won multiple awards, including the Hugo and World Fantasy awards, and the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa — an award established in honor of the Nigerian Nobel Prize-winning author of the same name.
Okorafor has written comics for Marvel, including “Black Panther: Long Live the King” and “Wakanda Forever.” Her novel “Who Fears Death” is being developed into a TV series by HBO, and she is co-writing the screenplay for a Hulu TV adaptation of her novella “Binti.”
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a global sensation, loved by Beyonce, Michelle Obama, and millions of others.
An influential feminist, she has won multiple awards for her novels, including the 2007 Orange Prize (now called the Women’s Prize for Fiction) for “Half of a Yellow Sun,” her novel on the Biafran war which was adapted into a movie starring Thandiwe Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Jack Taylor/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images

South African Lauren Beukes has earned a global reputation for her speculative fiction, including the novels “Broken Monsters,” “Moxyland” and “The Shining Girls,” which is being adapted for TV.
Her many awards include the Arthur C Clarke Award for science fiction for “Zoo City.” She is also a journalist, documentary maker, and writer of comics.
Tabitha Guy

Born in Liberia, Ghanaian Peace Adzo Medie is an academic who has written fiction and non-fiction. Her debut novel “His Only Wife” was published in 2020 and was named among the New York Times’ “100 Notable Books of 2020,” and a Time Magazine Must-Read.
She is also senior lecturer in Gender and International Politics at the University of Bristol, in the UK.
Sylvernus Darku

Born in Rabat, Morocco, Laila Lalami is a novelist and essayist. Her debut collection of short stories, “Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits,” was published in 2005. Nearly a decade later her book “The Moor’s Account” won the Arab American Book Award and the American Book Award. She was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.

Her 2019 book, “The Other Americans,” which begins with the mysterious death of a Moroccan immigrant in California, was a national bestseller in the US, where she is a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside. The book also saw her become a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and the National Book Award in Fiction.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

Nigerian Chigozie Obioma has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, for his novels “The Fishermen” and “An Orchestra of Minorities.”
Obioma was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of its “100 leading global thinkers of 2015.” He is a professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in the US.
Jason Keith

Born in Douala, Cameroon, Hemley Boum was first published in 2010, writing three books in her adopted city of Paris.
In 2015, her book “Les Maquisards” earned her the “Grand prix littéraire d’Afrique noire” — a leading prize for Black African literature written in French.
Boum won the same award for her 2019 novel “Les jours viennent et passent” (“Days come and go,” in English). Telling the story of three generations of women relaying their personal histories of Cameroonian families plagued by war, it is set to have an English translation published in 2022, and distributed in sub-Saharan Africa.
Francesca Montovani — Éditions Gallimard

Internationally celebrated Nigerian author Ben Okri has had his novels, poetry and short stories translated into more than 20 languages.
In 1991 he became the youngest ever winner of the Booker Prize, for “The Famished Road.” He has also won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa, and the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction.
He lives in London, where he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Jeff Spicer/Getty Images Europe/Jeff Spicer/Getty Images

Djaili Amadou Amal is a Cameroonian activist, writer and president of the feminist collective “Femmes du Sahel,” (Women of the Sahel).

In 2019 Amal was awarded the Orange Book Prize for her novel “Les impatientes,” which explores subjects including rape and polygamy as it chronicles the lives of three young women from wealthy families in Cameroon as they navigate society’s expectations. A year later she won the eminent French literary award, the “Prix Goncourt des Lycéens” for the same novel.


Ayobami Adebayo was born in Lagos, Nigeria. Her 2017 novel “Stay With Me” was named among the best books of 2017 by The Guardian and a notable book of the year by The New York Times. It won the 9mobile Prize for Literature and and was shortlisted for the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction (now called the Women’s Prize for Fiction) and the Wellcome Book Prize. The French translation won the “Prix Les Afriques” in 2020. Agence Opale/Alamy

Irenosen Okojie, who was born in Nigeria and moved to England aged eight, won the 2020 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story “Grace Jones.” The story features in her new collection, “Nudibranch.”
Her 2015 debut novel “Butterfly Fish” won a Betty Trask award and was shortlisted for an Edinburgh International First Book Award.
Awakening/Getty Images

Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga is novelist, filmmaker and playwright. Her novel “This Mournable Body” was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2020.
BBC culture writers named her 1988 debut novel “Nervous Conditions” among its “100 stories that shaped the world.”
In 2020 Dangarembga was arrested during anti-government protests in Zimbabwe, before being freed on bail. She was awarded the 2021 Freedom of Expression Award by PEN International, which describes itself as defending freedom of expression and promoting literature worldwide.
Aaron Ufumeli/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The work of Moroccan writer and visual artist Youssouf Amine Elalamy has been translated into multiple languages including English, Spanish, Arabic, Greek, Dutch and German.
His novel “Les Clandestins,” which explores the stories of 13 refugees stranded on a beach along the Straits of Gibraltar, won critical acclaim, and last year he won the Orange Book Award in Africa for his novel “C’est Beau, la Guerre.”
Elalamy is a professor at Ibn Tofaïl University in Kenitra, Morocco, where he teaches Stylistics, Art, Communication and Media Studies.
Alexandre Marchi

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