Speculative fiction has slowly become the Kim Kardashian of the literary genres. We love it. We read it. We want to be (in) it. And African writers across the continent are at the forefront of this new awakening now more than ever before.
So, today, I’m going to help you get your ASF reading on. If you’re tired of the usual and you want to take a dip in the pool of all things supernatural and mystique, this blog post is just for you. Don’t forget to share to a friend who might need this!!
So, what is “Speculative Fiction” and why are African authors doing it best?
Speculative Fiction is a broad category of fiction which includes other subgenres like science fiction, fantasy, super hero fiction, utopian fiction, dystopian fiction (my personal favorite) and so much more. It is really any type of fiction that consists of things yet to be observed in theory. It deals with the mythical and pretty much anything you can think up that does not exist in this reality… yet.
I love how Margaret Atwood puts it. She believes it is any literature that deals with possibilities in a society which have not yet been enacted but are latent. The two-time Booker Prize winning author would know as she wrote the infamous speculative fiction (dystopian) novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, which has been reference in everything from Halloween costumes to film (I LIVE! for this novel).
The continent of Africa has really brought out some of the greatest Speculative Fiction authors of this century. And I would be remiss not to highlight the impact the continent has made and the contribution it’s writers have made to the genre.
Some African Speculative Fiction writers you might know include Nnedi Okorafor, Namwali Serpell, Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Tomi Adeyemi, Wole Talabi, Masande Ntshanga, Lesley Nneka Arimah and the list goes on.
I personally believe that Nnedi Okorafor’s novels are the best of African Speculative Fiction. The Hugo and Nebula award winning author has written books that inspire a whole new generation of Africans (myself included).
Some of her most notable works include Binti (I recommend, heavily), Zahrah The Windseeker, Akata Witch, and Lagoon. Nnedi’s books are a great place to start if you’re looking for speculative fiction with heavy African influences.
Another great ASF writer is the not-so-new Tomi Adeyemi.
Tomi’s debut novel, Children of Blood and Bone was only released two years ago, but it was received with such acclaim that it became a NYT #1 bestseller. The novel won the 2018 Andre Norton award for YA Sci-fi and Fantasy and may just receive it’s own film adaptation as it’s rights have been bought by 20th Century Fox. She has written a sequel to the novel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance.
One writer I believe you HAVE to read if you’re tapping into ASF is Suyi Davies. Suyi is beloved in the world of ASF. His debut novel, David Mogo, Godhunter, won the 2020 Iluobe Nommo Award for Best Speculative fiction Novel by an African. It is the most prestigious award for SF on the African continent. His works have been published on magazines such as Tor.com, Fireside magazine, Strange Horizons and more. Asides from his novels and fiction, he runs an amazing newsletter, After Five, for budding writers. I am subscribed and I heavily recommend. If you’re interested you can subscribe, here.
Some ASF short fiction writers whom I believe you should also be reading include (but aren’t limited to) Oghenechovwe Ekpeki Donald, Ada Nnadi, and more.There you have it. Your official guide to ASF!
If I’m leaving anything out, let me know in the comments. Thank you so much for reading today and I hope you come back soon!