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An Introduction to Nigerian Fiction

With guest host Mayowa Atte

Download and listen to "Nigerian Fiction" here

This week, The Writing Show explores Nigeria through its stories.

When Mayowa leaves his his day job as a software developer, he morphs into a tights-wearing-metaphor-wielding writing superhero with an inflated ego and a rampant addiction to hyphens. He writes literary fiction and is currently slacking away on his second novel. His first, In Greener Pastures, is in the wild and wonderful purgatory that is the query process.

Mayowa also blogs at, where he writes wicked but thought-provoking posts about the writing life and the publishing industry.


There are now three living generations of Nigerian writers.

Generation One

Chinua Achebe

  • Works: Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God, A Man of the People, The Education of a British Protected Child
  • Acclaim: Man Booker International Prize for Fiction 2007, twelve million+ books in print, Commonwealth Poetry Prize, Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, Nigerian National Order of Merit, etc.

Wole Soyinka

  • Works: The Lion and the Jewel, The Interpreters, Season of Anomie, You Must Set Forth at Dawn, Kongi’s Harvest
  • Acclaim: Nobel Prize for Literature 1986, Honorary Doctorate Harvard University, Honorary Doctorate Princeton University.

Cyprian Ekwensi

  • Works: People of The City, The Drummer Boy, Jagua Nana, The Passport of Mallam Illia, An African Night’s Entertainment, When Love Whispers.
  • Acclaim: First Nigerian writer to garner international attention. Started out writing pamphlet fiction sold in marketplaces and sold tens of thousands of copies

Generation Two

Ola Rotimi

  • Works: To Stir the God of Iron, The Gods Are Not to Blame, Man Talk Woman Talk, Kunrunmi
  • Acclaim: One of Nigeria’s foremost playwrights, two Fulbright Scholarships

Christopher Okigbo

  • Works: Heavensgate, Limits, Silences, Paths of Thunder, Collected Poems
  • Acclaim: Africa’s most celebrated poet, Langston Hughes Award for African Poetry, fought and died in the Civil War.

Ben Okri

  • Works: The Famished Road, Flowers and Shadows, Starbooks, Tales of Freedom
  • Acclaim: 1991 Booker Prize, 1987 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Paris Review Prize for Fiction, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature

Generation Three

Chimamanda Adichie

  • Works: Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Acclaim: Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Orange Prize for Fiction, National Book Critics Circle Award, O’Henry Short Story Prize

Sefi Atta

  • Works: Everything Good Will Come, News From Home, The Miracle Worker
  • Acclaim: Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, PEN International's David TK Wong Prize (2004, 2006)

Chris Abani

  • Works: Graceland, Virgin of the Flames, Masters of the Board, Song For Night
  • Acclaim: Guggenheim Fellowship, Hemingway Foundation/Pen Award, Two-time Pushcart nominee.

Interviewee/host: Mayowa Atte
Date: June 13, 2010
Running time: 20:01
File size: 10 megabytes
Rating: G
Mayowa Atte's blog: Pens with Cojones

Check out some of Mayowa's recommendations at

First generation

Second generation

Third generation