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Africa39 Authors

A selection of the best 39 authors under the age of 40 from Sub-Saharan Africa and the diaspora, the Africa39 were chosen by Margaret Busby (Ghana/UK), Elechi Amadi (Nigeria) and Osonye Tess Onwueme (Nigeria/US). These talented writers feature in the Africa39 anthology.

Find out more about the Africa39 project.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Nigeria

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Born in Nigeria, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah and the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck. Translated into over thirty languages, her work has been awarded prizes including the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, the Orange Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.

Richard Ali A Mutu - Congo

Richard Ali A Mutu

Richard Ali A Mutu writes in Lingala. The winner of the 2009 Mark Twain Prize, he published his first novel, Le cauchemardesque de Tabu, in 2009. He has also written poetry, monologues and theatre performance pieces.

Monica Arac de Nyeko - Uganda

Monica Arac de Nyeko

Monica Arac de Nyeko is from Uganda. She was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2004 for her story ‘Strange Fruit’, going on to win the prize in 2007 for ‘Jambula Tree’.

Rotimi Babatunde - Nigeria

Rotimi Babatunde

Rotimi Babatunde writes poems, plays and prose fiction. His story ‘Bombay’s Republic’ was awarded the 2012 Caine Prize for African Writing. His plays have been produced by the Young Vic in London, the Halcyon Theatre in Chicago, and Sweden’s Riksteatern, among others. He lives in Nigeria.

Eileen Barbosa - Cape Verde

Eileen Barbosa

Eileen Barbosa is a Cape Verdean writer and advisor to the Prime Minister. She is the recipient of the inaugural National Pantera Revelation Prize 2005 for Short Stories and the Pantera Revelation Prize 2005 for Poetry. Her story collection, Eileenístic, was published in 2007. She is currently at work on a second collection.

A. Igoni Barrett - Nigeria

A. Igoni Barrett

A. Igoni Barrett is the author of the story collection Love Is Power, or Something Like That. He is the winner of a BBC World Service short story competition, the recipient of a Chinua Achebe Center Fellowship, a Norman Mailer Center Fellowship, and a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Residency. He lives in Lagos.

Jackee Budesta Batanda - Uganda

Jackee Budesta Batanda

Jackee Budesta Batanda is a short story writer and independent journalist. The Africa regional winner of the 2003 Commonwealth Short Story Competition, her work has been performed on the BBC World Service and appears in publications including the New York Times, the Boston Globe and the Mail & Guardian . She is currently at work on a novel.

Recaredo Silebo Boturu - Equatorial Guinea

Recaredo Silebo Boturu

Recaredo Silebo Boturu is a poet, playwright, actor and theatre director from Equatorial Guinea. His award-winning articles have been published in the Afro-Hispanic Review and in both Equatoguinean and Spanish publications. His collection of poetry and plays, Luz en la Noche (Light in the Night), was published in 2010.

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond - Ghana/USA

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is a Ghanaian-American writer living in New York. Her fiction, poetry and essays have been published by African Writing,, Sunday Salon and Nike, among others. Publishers Weekly hailed her novel Powder Necklace as ‘a winning debut’. Most recently, she founded the blog People Who Write.

Shadreck Chikoti - Malawi

Shadreck Chikoti

Shadreck Chikoti is a Malawian writer. His awards include the 2013 Peer Gynt Literary Award for his forthcoming futuristic novel, Azotus the Kingdom. He is vice president of the Malawi Writers Union and Director of Pan African Publishers Ltd.

Edwige-Renée Dro - Ivory Coast

Edwige-Renée Dro

Edwige-Renée Dro worked as a marketing assistant and community journalist in the UK before moving back to Cote d'Ivoire. Her stories have been published Prima magazine and She is currently completing work on her first novel and is the founder of Abidjan Lit, an African fiction book group.

Tope Folarin - Nigeria

Tope Folarin

Tope Folarin made his fiction debut in Transition with ‘Miracle’ in 2012, for which he was awarded the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2013. He is a graduate of Morehouse College and the University of Oxford, where he earned two Master's degrees as a Rhodes Scholar. He lives in Washington DC.

Clifton Gachagua - Kenya

Clifton Gachagua

Clifton Gachagua is the recipient of the 2013 inaugural Sillerman Prize for African Poetry. In 2013 he was longlisted for the 2013 Kwani? Manuscript Project and his debut poetry collection, The Madman at Kilifi, was published in 2014. His work has appeared in publications including Storymoja and Kwani? He is currently an editor and television scriptwriter.

Stanley Gazemba - Malawi

Stanley Gazemba

Stanley Gazemba is a journalist and the author of three novels: The Stone Hills of Maragoli, Khama and Callused Hands and eight children’s books. A recipient of the Jomo Kenyatta Prize, his articles and stories have appeared in publications including ‘A’ is for Ancestors, the Caine Prize Anthology, the East African and the New York Times.

Mehul Gohil - Kenya

Mehul Gohil

Mehul Gohil was born in Nairobi, Kenya. He is the winner of the Kwani? ‘The Kenya I Live In’ short story prize in 2010. His fiction has been published in Kwani? and on several online platforms including Short Story Day Africa. His journalism has appeared in publications including the Shahan Journal and

Hawa Jande Golakai - Liberia

Hawa Jande Golakai

Hawa Jande Golakai was born in Liberia and has lived in several African countries. Her debut novel, The Lazarus Effect, was shortlisted for the 2011 Sunday Times Fiction Prize, the University of Johannesburg Debut Prize and longlisted for the Wole Soyinka Prize. She works as a medical immunologist and is currently completing her second novel.

Shafinaaz Hassim - South Africa

Shafinaaz Hassim

Shafinaaz Hassim is a South African writer and sociologist. She is the author of the novel, SoPhia (2012) and several works of nonfiction. A social commentator and contributor to the Mail & Guardian, her work has been short-listed for the K Sello Duiker Award and the University of Johannesburg Debut Prize for Creative Writing.

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim - Nigeria

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim’s debut story collection The Whispering Trees was long listed for the inaugural 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature; the title story was shortlisted for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing. A 2013 Gabriel García Márquez Fellow, he won the BBC African Performance Prize in 2007. He lives in Abuja, Nigeria where he works as an arts editor for a national newspaper.

Stanley Onjezani Kenani - Kenya

Stanley Onjezani Kenani

Stanley Onjezani Kenani was born in Malawi and currently lives in Switzerland. He has twice been shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing, in 2008 and 2012. He is the author of the story collection For Honour and Other Stories and is currently working on his first novel.

Dinaw Mengestu - Ethiopia/USA

Dinaw Mengestu

(U.S.A 1978) Mengestu is an American novelist and writer born in Ethiopia and raised in Peoria Illinois. In both his novels The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears (2007) and How to Read the Air (2010), Mengestu explores his African roots while dealing with racial issues. His writing has featured in several publications including Rolling Stone, Jane and The Wall Street Journal. Mengestu was awarded the MacArthur Foundation genius grant in 2012.

Nadifa Mohamed - Somalia/England

Nadifa Mohamed

(United Kingdom) A Somali-British writer, Nadifa Mohamed was born in Hargeisa and moved to England with her family in 1986. Her father was a sailor in the merchant navy and Mohamed attended Oxford University, where she studied History and Politics. Her first novel, Black Mamba Boy (2009), won the Betty Trask Award in 2010 and was nominated for prizes like the Guardian First Book Award (given by the newspaper The Guardian), the Dylan Thomas Prize and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, all in 2010. The book was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize that year. In 2013 she was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists and published her second novel, The Orchard of Lost Souls, set in Somalia during the civil war. Mohamed lives in London and is working on her third novel.

Nthikeng Mohlele - South Africa

Nthikeng Mohlele

Nthikeng Mohlele was born in 1977 and grew up in Limpopo and Tembisa township, South Africa. A graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand, he is the author of the novels The Scent of Bliss and Small Things.

Linda Musita - Kenya

Linda Musita

Linda Musita is a writer, editor and lawyer. She is a literary agent at Lelsleigh Inc in Nairobi and an editor at the Star newspaper. Her fiction has been published on the Storymoja publishers’ blog and the Daily Nation. A Storymoja Hay Festival 2012/13 fellow, she is currently working on her first novel.

Sifiso Mzobe - South Africa

Sifiso Mzobe

Sifiso Mzobe was born in Durban, South Africa. His debut novel, Young Blood, was awarded the 2011 Herman Charles Bosman Award, the 2011 Sunday Times Fiction Prize, the 2011 South African Literary Award and the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. He currently works as a freelance journalist and is writing his second novel.

Glaydah Namukasa - Uganda

Glaydah Namukasa

Glaydah Namukasa is a Ugandan midwife and writer, and is currently chairperson of the Uganda Women Writers’ Association, Femrite. Her short stories are published in anthologies in Uganda, South Africa, the UK, the US and Sweden. She is the author of one novel, The Deadly Ambition. Her young adult novella Voice of a Dream, was awarded the Macmillan Writers Prize for Africa in 2006. She is the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center fellowship and in 2008 was awarded the title of Honorary Fellow by the International Writers Program at the University of Iowa. She is currently completing her second novel.

Kioko Ndinda - Kenya/England

Kioko Ndinda

Kioko Ndinda is a Kenyan-born writer and filmmaker. Her stories have been published in Fresh Paint - Literary Vignettes by Kenyan Women, and Amka Space for Women’s Creativity and other publications including Sanaa literary magazine. A new story is forthcoming in Jalada Africa, an African writers’ collective.

Okwiri Oduor - Kenya

Okwiri Oduor

Okwiri Oduor was born in Nairobi. She is a 2014 MacDowell Colony fellow. She is currently at work on her debut novel.

Ukamaka Olisakwe - Nigeria

Ukamaka Olisakwe

Ukamaka Olisakwe was raised in Kano State. Her debut novel, Eyes of a Goddess, was published in 2012. Her stories have appeared in various online journals and blogs including Saraba, Sentinel Nigeria, Short Story Day Africa and Naija Stories. She writes a weekly column for the Nigerian Telegraph.

Ondjaki - Angola


Ondjaki was born in Luanda. He is the recipient of numerous prizes, including the 2008 Grande Prémio de Conto Camilo Castelo Branco awarded by the Portuguese Writers' Association and the Prémio Jabuti. His novel Os Transparentes was awarded the Saramago Prize in 2013. He currently lives in Rio de Janeiro.

Chibundu Onuzo - Nigeria

Chibundu Onuzo

Chibundu Onuzo’s debut novel, The Spider King’s Daughter, was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize, shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize. She writes comment pieces for the Guardian, with a special interest in Nigeria. She currently completing a Masters in Public Policy and writing her second novel.

Helen Oyeyemi - UK

Helen Oyeyemi

(United Kingdom, 1984) This British novelist wrote her first novel, The Icarus Girl, when she was still at school. While she was studying Social Sciences and Politics at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, two of her plays, Jupiter’s Whitening and Victimese, were performed by university students and were later published by Methuen. In 2007 Bloomsbury published her second novel, The Opposite House; her third novel White is for Witching was published in 2009 and was shortlisted for the Shirley Jackson Award and won the Somerset Maugham Award en 2010. In 2011 she published her fourth novel, Mr Fox, which is now available in Spanish. In 2013 she was included on Granta's list of the best young British writers.

Nii Ayikwei Parkes - Ghana

Nii Ayikwei Parkes

Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a writer, editor and performance poet. His debut novel, Tail of the Blue Bird, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize and translated into Dutch, German, French and Japanese. He is the publisher at flipped eye publishing, one of the most respected small presses in the UK and curator of the African Writers' Evening reading series.

Mohamed Yunus Rafiq - Tanzania

Mohamed Yunus Rafiq

Mohamed Yunus Rafiq is a writer and independent documentary film maker. The co-author of a poetry collection, Landscapes of the Heart, he is also a member of the internationally acclaimed hip-hop group Xplastaz collective based in Tanzania and the co-founder of Aang Serian Peace Village, a youth-led cultural preservation organization.

Taiye Selasi - Ghana/Nigeria/England

Taiye Selasie

Writer and photographer. Born in London to Nigerian and Ghanaian parents, raised in Massachussetts, Taiye Selasie now lives in Rome, Italy. Her debut novel, Ghana must go, was published to international acclaim in over sixteen countries and was selected as one of the ten best books of 2013 by the Wall Street Journal and the Economist. In 2013 she was name one of Granta's Best of Young British novelists. She is currently working on her second novel.

Namwali Serpell - Zambia

Namwali Serpell

Born in Lusaka, Namwali Serpell is an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of a book of literary criticism and her fiction has appeared in publications including Callaloo, Tin House and The Best American Short Stories 2009. She was shortlisted for the 2010 Caine Prize for African Literature and is a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award recipient.

Lola Shoneyin - Nigeria

Lola Shoneyin

Lola Shoneyin is the author of three volumes of poetry and two children's books. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, her debut novel, was long-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction and won the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award and the Ken Saro-Wiwa Prose Prize. She is the director of the Aké Arts and Book festival.

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma - Zimbabwe

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is a Zimbabwe-born writer. Her short fiction has appeared in publications including the 2010 Caine Prize Anthology. She was awarded the 2009 Yvonne Vera Award and her debut collection was published 2013. She is currently a Maytag Fellow at the MFA Creative Writing Programme at the University of Iowa.

Chika Unigwe - Nigeria

Chika Unigwe

Chika Unigwe was born in Enugu, Nigeria. She is the author of On Black Sisters Street and Night Dancer. She is the most recent winner of the Nigeria Literature Award and her work has been published extensively in journals and papers around the world including the New York Times and the UK Guardian.

Zukiswa Wanner - Zambia

Zukiswa Wanner

Zukiswa Wanner was born in Zambia of South African and Zimbabwean parentage. Her debut novel, The Madams, was published in 2006. She is the author of three more novels: Behind Every Successful Man (2008); Men of the South (2010, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Best Book Africa Region 2011 and the Herman Charles Bosman Award); and most recently London Cape Town Joburg (2014). She is also a regular contributor to publications including the New African, the Mail & Guardian, Elle and O magazine.

Mary Watson - South Africa

Mary Watson

Mary Watson published her debut story collection, Moss, in 2004 and was the 2006 winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing. She is the author of the literary thriller The Cutting Room, and a contributor to several anthologies. Her work has been translated into languages including Arabic, Italian, German and Dutch.