Through the eyes of black authors

The voices of African and AfricanAmerican writers in the world of English literature have grown in volume and diversity in recent years.

From novels that offer a glimpse into the new lives that African immigrants are ekeing out in the United States to science-fiction set in the fringes of Johannesburg, here are some novels to check out.

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME (2015) By Ta-Nehisi Coates

American journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates' rumination on racial injustice in his country is both unflinchingly political and surprisingly intimate.

The book, which won the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction, is written in the form of a letter to his teenage son, and delves into America's turbulent racial history and the fears of growing up black in a country where racial violence remains a brutal reality.

• The novel is available at $43.05 from Books Kinokuniya.


BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME (2015) By Ta-Nehisi Coates

ZOO CITY (2010) By Lauren Beukes

Think Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series - in which a person's soul is manifested in the form of an animal companion - set in a dystopic Johannesburg.

But in South African author Lauren Beukes' Arthur C. Clarke award-winning science-fiction novel, these companions serve a darker function: They are indelible reminders of a person's sins.

The "animalled" are killers, who, after taking a life, find themselves left with an animal familiar and banished to the fringes of society, a premise that sets the stage for a vivid mix of magic, morality and political and social turmoil in South Africa.

• The August 2016 reprint can be pre-ordered at $25.54 from the Books Kinokuniya Webstore.


ZOO CITY (2010) By Lauren Beukes

AMERICANAH (2013) By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Two teenagers in Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, fall in love. But around them, their country - in the clutches of military rule - is falling apart.

The spirited Ifemelu heads to the United States while her boyfriend Obinze seeks his fortune in England. Loneliness and dislocation set in for both characters, as their lives spiral off in wildly different directions and deal with life as outsiders.

The third book by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award.

• The novel is available at $21.40 from Books Kinokuniya.


AMERICANAH (2013) By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

BLACKASS (2015) By A. Igoni Barrett

Think Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis with a racial twist. In Nigerian writer A. Igoni Barrett's debut novel, a young black man living in Lagos wakes on the morning of his job interview and discovers he has turned into a white man.

And so Furo Wariboko has to learn to be white in Africa: an object of curiosity, fear and respect. But the transformation is incomplete. Despite his white skin and red hair, his buttocks remain stubbornly black, even as he goes through pains to lighten them.

• The novel is available at $28.59 from Books Kinokuniya.


BLACKASS (2015) By A. Igoni Barrett

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 17, 2016, with the headline 'Through the eyes of black authors'. Print Edition | Subscribe