2023 promises exciting African books from authors such as Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, Leila Aboulela, Peace Adzo Medie, Tendai Huchu, Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, and more.
Editor’s note: This essay is available in our print issue, Godfathers: An Introduction. Buy the issue here.
In 2022, I read over eighty books. Surprisingly, only a few of those books were published in 2022. As I mapped out my reading goals for 2023, I resolved to read more books published in the reading year. Though it’s hard to predict what the new year will bring, one thing is certain; I and other book lovers will be reading all year long.
The year ahead promises to keep book lovers busy. After all, authors like Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, Peace Adzo Medie, Tendia Huchu and Leila Aboulela are making a comeback to the literary scene. Debuts by Jessica George, Fatin Abbas, Chịkọdịlị Emelụmadụ, Ore Agbaje-Williams, and Wole Talabi has me excited for the future of African literature. For non-fiction, 2023 also promises work from Emmanuel Iduma, who tells the story of his return to Nigeria, and we’ll see Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond’s brilliant editorial effort centred on the African and diaspora experience.
Here are 23 books that will be published in 2023 that you can look out for.
ALL THAT IT EVER MEANT by BLESSING MUSARIRI
Family, grief, ghosts, and a mystery: this clever and compelling young adult novel heralds a masterful new voice from Zimbabwe. Mati’s family is reeling from the death of Mati’s mother. Her Baba has drawn into himself, her sister Chichi is rebelling, and her young brother Tana is desperate for love and normalcy. When Chichi pulls her worst stunt yet, Baba uproots the family from their home in England for an extended camping holiday in their native Zimbabwe. Along for the trip is Meticais, a fabulously attired gender-neutral spirit—or ghost, or imaginary friend—who only Mati can see and converse with.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: January 3, 2023.
GHOST SEASON BY FATIN ABBAS
Amid the paradoxes of identity, art, humanitarian aid, and a territory riven by conflict, William, Layla, Dena, Alex, and Mustafa must forge bonds stronger than blood or identity. Weaving a sweeping history of the breakup of Sudan into the lives of these captivating characters, Fatin Abbas explores the porous and perilous nature of borders—whether they be national, ethnic, or religious—and the profound consequences for those who cross them. Ghost Season is a gripping, vivid debut that announces Abbas as a powerful new voice in fiction.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: January 10, 2023.
RELATIONS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF AFRICAN AND DIASPORA VOICES BY NANA EKUA BREW-HAMMOND
Relations is a compilation of fresh and electrifying stories, poems, and essays by African and diaspora writers, edited by author Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond. In this book, new and established storytellers reshape the narratives that divide and subjugate, revealing the truth of our shared humanity despite differences in language, identity, class, gender, and beyond. This anthology is Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond’s striking vision of a meeting place of perspectives, centred on the African and diaspora experience.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: January 17, 2023.
DAUGHTER IN EXILE BY BISI ADJAPON
The acclaimed author of The Teller of Secrets returns with a gut-wrenching but heart-warming story about a young Ghanaian woman’s struggle to make a life in the U.S. and the challenges she must overcome. Lola is twenty-one, and her life in Senegal couldn’t be better. An aspiring writer and university graduate; she has a great job, a vibrant social life, and a future filled with possibility. But fate disrupts her world when she falls for Armand, an American Marine stationed at the U.S. Embassy. Her mother, a high court judge in Ghana, disapproves of her choice but nothing will stop Lola from boarding a plane for Armand and America. That fateful flight is only the beginning of an extraordinary journey, for she has traded her carefree life for the perilous existence of an undocumented immigrant.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: January 31, 2023.
MAAME BY JESSICA GEORGE
A self-acknowledged late bloomer, Maddie is ready to experience some important ‘firsts’. But it’s not long before tragedy strikes, forcing Maddie to face the true nature of her unconventional family, and the perils—and rewards—of putting her heart on the line. Smart, funny, and deeply affecting, Maame deals with the themes of our time with humour and poignancy: from familial duty and racism to the complexity of love, and the life-saving power of friendship. Most importantly, it explores what it feels like to be torn between two homes and cultures―and it celebrates finally being able to find where you belong.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: January 31, 2023.
A SPELL OF GOOD THINGS BY AYỌ̀BÁMI ADÉBÁYỌ̀
Author of the critically acclaimed debut novel, Stay With Me, and one of Africa’s literary stars returns with A Spell of Good Things. Arguably one of the most anticipated book releases of 2023, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ returns with a stunning tale of contemporary Nigeria. A Spell of Good Things explores two families caught in the riptides of wealth, power, romantic obsession, and political corruption. Adébáyọ̀’s forthcoming novel is deeply and authentically Nigeria in the scenery it paints, the originality of characters, and its discourse on socio-political issues such as corruption, class difference, and social injustice.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: February 07, 2023.
CALL AND RESPONSE BY GOTHATAONE MOENG
A young widow adheres to the expectations of wearing mourning clothes for nearly a year, though she’s unsure what the traditions mean or whether she is ready to meet the world without their protection. An older sister returns home from a confusing time in America, only to explain at every turn why she’s left the land of opportunity. A younger sister hides her sexual exploits from her family, while her older brother openly flaunts his infidelity. The stories collected in Call and Response are strongly anchored in place—in the village of Serowe, where the author is from, and in Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana—charting the emotional journeys of women seeking love and opportunity beyond the barriers of custom and circumstance.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: February 07, 2023.
DAZZLING BY CHỊKỌDỊLỊ EMELỤMADỤ
In this debut novel, two girls must reckon with their burgeoning wildness and the legacy of their fathers’ decisions. Treasure and Ozoemena will face terrible choices as each must ask herself: in a world that always says ‘no’ to women, what must two young girls sacrifice to get what is theirs? Dazzling is steeped in magical realism and Nigerian mythology.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: February 16, 2023.
I AM STILL WITH YOU: A RECKONING WITH SILENCE, INHERITANCE, AND HISTORY BY EMMANUEL IDUMA
In inimitable, rhythmic prose, Emmanuel Iduma tells the story of his return to Nigeria, where he grew up, after years of living in New York. He travelled home with an elusive mission: to learn the fate of his uncle Emmanuel, his namesake, who disappeared in the Nigerian Civil War in the late 1960s. A conflict that left so many families broken, the war remains at the margins of the history books, almost taboo to discuss. To find answers, Iduma stopped in city after city throughout the former Biafra region, reconnecting with relatives dear and distant to probe their memories, prowling university libraries to furtively photocopy illicit books, and visiting half-abandoned monuments along the highway. Perhaps, he realized, if he could understand how his father grieved the loss of a brother in the war, he might learn how to grieve his late father in turn. Equal parts memoir, national history, and political reckoning, I Am Still With You is a profoundly personal story of collective loss and making peace with the unknowable.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: February 21, 2023.
RAIMBEL BY PRIYA HEIN
Fifteen-year-old Noemi has no choice but to leave school and work in the house of the wealthy De Grandbourg family. Just across the road from the slums where she grew up, she encounters a world that is starkly different from her own—yet one which would have been all too familiar to her ancestors. Bewitched by a pair of green eyes and haunted by echoes, her life begins to mirror those of girls who have gone before her. In Riambel, Priya Hein invites us to protest, to rail against long standing structures of class and ethnicity. She shows us a world of natural enchantment contrasted with violence and the abuse of power. This seemingly simple tale of servitude, seduction and abandonment blisters with a fierce sense of injustice.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: February, 2023.
RIVER SPIRIT BY LEILA ABOULELA
The new novel from Caine Prize winner, Leila Aboulela, follows the life of an embattled young woman’s coming of age during the Mahdist War in 19th century Sudan. Through the voices of seven men and women whose fates grow inextricably linked, Aboulela’s latest novel illuminates a fraught and bloody reckoning with the history of a people caught in the crosshairs of imperialism. River Spirit is a powerful tale of corruption, coming of age, and unshakeable devotion to a cause, to one’s faith, and to the people who become family.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: March 07, 2023.
DRINKING FROM GRAVEYARD WELLS BY YVETTE LISA NDLOVU
In Drinking from Graveyard Wells, Yvette Lisa Ndlovu assembles poignantly reflective stories that centre the voices of African women charting their own Black history through the ages. Drawing on her own early experiences as a Zimbabwean living under the Mugabe dictatorship, Ndlovu’s stories are grounded in truth and empathy. Ndlovu boldly offers up alternative interpretations of a past and a present that speculates upon the everyday lives of a people disregarded. Her words explore the erasure of African women while highlighting their beauty and limitless magic. Immersed in worlds both fantastical and familiar, readers find themselves walking alongside these women, grieving their pain, and celebrating their joy, all against the textured backdrop of Zimbabwe.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: March 07, 2023.
THE MIDDLE DAUGHTER BY CHIKA UNIGWE
Award-winning author of On Black Sister’s Street, Chika Unigwe, returns with The Middle Daughter. Unigwe’s forthcoming novel is a modern reimagining of the myth of Hades and Persephone within a Nigerian family. It is a lush tale of family and sisterhood that follows the life of seventeen-year-old Nani who loses her older sister and then her father in quick succession.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: April 04, 2023.
NO EDGES: SWAHILI STORIES EDITED BY SARAH COOLIDGE
The first collection of Swahili literature of its kind, No Edges: Swahili Stories introduces eight East African writers from Tanzania and Kenya as they share tales of sorcerers, Nairobi junkyards, cross-country matatu rides, and spaceships that blast prisoners into eternity. Here we’re invited to explore the chaos of life on an overcrowded Earth as well as those mysterious realms that lie just beyond our reach. Translated into an English bursting with rhythm and vivid Afro-futurist visions, these are writers who are authoring the boundless future into being.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: April 11, 2023.
THE FIVE SORROWFUL MYSTERIES OF ANDY AFRICA BY STEPHEN BUORO
Fifteen-year-old Andrew Aziza lives in Kontagora, Nigeria, where his days are spent about town with his droogs, Slim and Morocca, grappling with his fantasies about white girls—especially blondes—and wondering who his father is. When he’s not in church, at school or attempting to form ‘Africa’s first superheroes’, he obsesses over mathematical theorems, ideas of black power and HXVX: the Curse of Africa. Sure enough, the reluctantly nicknamed ‘Andy Africa’ falls hopelessly and inappropriately in love with the first white girl he lays eyes on, Eileen. But at the church party held to celebrate her arrival, multiple crises loom. An unfamiliar man claims, despite his mother’s denials, to be Andy’s father, and the gathering of an anti-Christian mob is headed for the church, both set to shake the foundations of everything Andy knows and loves.
The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa announces a dazzling, distinctive, new literary voice.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: April 13 2023.
SMALL WORLDS BY CALEB AZUMAH NELSON
Stephen has only ever known himself in song, but what becomes of him when the music fades? When his father begins to speak of shame and sacrifice? When his home is no longer his own? How will he find space for himself: a place where he can feel beautiful, a place he might feel free? Set over three summers in Stephen’s life; from London to Ghana and back again, Small Worlds is an exhilarating and expansive novel about the worlds we build for ourselves; the worlds we live, dance and love within.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: May 11, 2023.
THE THREE OF US BY ORE AGBAJE-WILLIAMS
In The Three of Us, British-Nigerian author, Ore-Agbaje Williams weaves how long-standing tensions between a husband, his wife, and her best friend finally come to a breaking point in this sharp domestic comedy of manners, told brilliantly over the course of one day. The Three of Us explores what it means to defy cultural truths, and the fine line between compromise and betrayal. In a conversation with The Republic, Agbaje-Williams says readers should be expecting ‘a healthy dose of wealth and snobbery.’
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: May 16, 2023.
DON’T ANSWER WHEN THEY CALL YOUR NAME BY UKAMAKA OLISAKWE
Two years after the release of her critically acclaimed novel, Ogadinma, Ukamaka Olisakwe returns with a novel that blends myth and magic to introduce readers to an enchanting, spectral world where a young girl and her dog must change the destiny of an ill-fated community. Don’t Answer When They Call Your Name is an extraordinary novel bursting with kaleidoscopic worlds and beings. It is a feat of the imagination from a born storyteller.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: May 16, 2023
HOUSE WOMAN BY ADORAH NWORAH
One day in Lagos, young dancer Ikemefuna is put on a plane to Houston to meet her new husband, Nna. Promises are made to her – about her education, about the man she will marry, about her freedom. None of them are kept. A few months later, self-professed feminist Nna finds a beautiful woman cooking in his parent’s kitchen. They tell him Ikemefuna is his wife, there to give them the grandson they’ve been waiting for. She appears obedient and malleable, but she is no ordinary wife. Unpredictable and unsettling, House Woman is a delicious thriller you will never be able to forget.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: June 06, 2023.
NIGHTBLOOM BY PEACE ADZO MEDIE
Author of His Only Wife, Peace Adzo Medie returns with a moving novel about the unbreakable power of female friendship. After two inseparable young friends in Ghana become estranged, with one moving to the U.S.; only a crisis can bring them back together and reconnect their bond. A riveting depiction of life, class, and family in Ghana, an eye-opening story of life as an African-born woman in the U.S., and an assured follow-up to a much-heralded debut, Nightbloom is above all an accessible and powerful novel attesting to the strength of female bonds in the face of societies that would silence them.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: June 13, 2023.
SHIGIDI AND THE BRASS HEAD OF OBALUFON BY WOLE TALABI
Shigidi, Wole Talabi’s debut fantasy novel, presents a mythic tale of disgruntled gods, revenge, and a heist across two worlds. Shigidi is a disgruntled and demotivated nightmare god in the Orisha spirit company, reluctantly answering prayers of his few remaining believers to maintain his existence long enough to find his next drink. When he meets Nneoma, a sort-of succubus with a long and secretive past, everything changes for him. Together, they attempt to break free of his obligations and the restrictions that have bound him to his godhood and navigate the parameters of their new relationship in the shadow of her past. But the elder gods that run the Orisha spirit company have other plans for Shigidi, and they are not all aligned or good.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: August 15, 2023.
NO ONE DIES YET BY KOBBY BEN BEN
2019. The Year of the Return. It has been exactly 400 years since the first slave ships left Ghana for America, and Ghana has opened its doors for Black diasporans to come to know the land of their ancestors. Elton, Vincent, and Scott arrive from America to visit preserved sites from the transatlantic slave route, and to explore the country’s underground queer scene. Their activities are narrated by their two combative guides; Kobby, their liaison with Accra’s privileged circles; and Nana, the voice of tradition and religious principle. The two’s tense relationship set the tone for what becomes a shocking and unsettling tale of murder that is at times funny or erotic, but always outspoken and iconoclastic.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: August 17, 2023.
THE MYSTERY AT DUNVEGAN CASTLE BY TENDAI HUCHU
Everyone’s favourite fifteen-year-old ghost talker, Ropa, arrives at the worldwide Society of Skeptical Enquirers’ biennial conference just in time to be tied into a mystery—a locked room mystery. One of the magical attendees has stolen a valuable magical scroll. Caught between Qozmos, the high wizard of Ethiopian magic, the larger-than-life Lord Sashvindu Samarasinghe, England’s Sorcerer Royal, and Scotland’s own Hamish Manas MacLeod, it’s up to Ropa (and Jomo and Priya) to sort through the dangerous secret politics and alliances to figure out what really happened. But she has a special tool—the many ghosts tied to the ancient, powerful castle.
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: August 29, 2023.
WHEN WE WERE FIREFLIES BY ABUBAKAR ADAM IBRAHIM
When brooding artist, Yarima Lalo, encounters a moving train for the first time, two serendipitous events occur. First, it triggers memories of past lives in which he was twice murdered—once on a train. He also meets Aziza, a woman with a complicated past, who becomes key to helping him understand this experience. Faced with an imminent third death, together they go hunting for the remnants of his past lives. Will they find the people who once loved or loathed him or evidence that he is losing his mind?
EXPECTED PUBLICATION DATE: 2023⎈
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