Book digest

We look back at some of the books that were published across African and Black literary communities in 2021.

It was a very productive year for writing in the African and Black community as publications came out in numbers that we haven’t seen in many a year. We saw so many more poetry collections, novels and novellas, essay collections, anthologies, that it is difficult for any one person or organisation to keep track of. Our friends at Brittle Paper took the route of publishing their 50 most significant books of the year while Open Country took the route of 60 notable books of 2021.

We have opted to give you a list of all the books we covered for 2021. For more information on these titles, check out our new books section or just search the website. We tried to cover not just books written in English but also in French, Portuguese, German, and Setswana.

Here are the books that entered our consciousness in 2021.


  • Cette Morsure Trop Vive, Nassuf Djailani
  • An Unusual Grief, Yewande Omotoso
  • Station Master Eburru, Pheroze Nowrojee
  • Keeper of Secrets, Bisi Adjapon
  • The House of Rust, Khadija Abdalla Bajaber
  • Et Les Portes Des Bouches!, Richard Ali A Mutu
  • Unbury Our Dead with Song, Mukoma Wa Ngugi
  • Adas Raum, Sharon Dodua Otoo
  • Back-Fence Talk and Other Vices, Caroline Kinya Mbaya
  • Sleep Well, My Lady, Kwei Quartey
  • How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House, Cherie Jones
  • The Fugitives, Jamal Mahjoub
  • Adze, Kofi Dzogbewu
  • Tshika Fa E Ya Baneng, Tuelo Gabonewe
  • Gole de Lâminas, Albert Dalela
  • The Eternal Audience of One, Rémy Ngamije
  • L’Odyssée des Oubliés, Khalil Diallo
  • The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana, Maryse Condé
  • In the Company of Men, Véronique Tadjo
  • Walking on Cowrie Shells, Nana Nkweti
  • This Poison Heart, Kalynn Bayron
  • The Day I fell off My Island, Yvonne Bailey-Smith’
  • My Scars Are My Birthmark, Orlando Taylor
  • Zainab Takes New York, Ayesha Harruna Attah
  • Peaces, Helen Oyeyemi
  • Harlem Shuffle, Colson Whitehead
  • The Daughters of Nandi, Nokuthula Mazibuko Msimang
  • Wir Gottes Kinder, Nana Oforiatta Ayim
  • The Library of the Dead, TL Huchu
  • Sina De Aruanda, Virgília Ferrão
  • I know What You’ve Done, Dorothy Koomson
  • A Master of Djinn, P Djeli Clark
  • The Madhouse, TJ Benson


  • When Secrets Become Stories, edited by Sue Nyathi
  • Hauntings, edited by Niq Mhlongo
  • 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of contemporary Volume IV, edited by Nadra Mabrouk and K. Eltinaé
  • Surfacing: On Being Black and Feminist in South Africa, edited by Desiree Lewis and Gabeba Baderoon.
  • The Hope, The Prayer, The Anthem, edited by Allwell Uwazuruike, Munachim Amah, Confidence Uwazuruike.
  • No Time to Mourn, edited by Hilda Twongyeirwe and Elizabeth Ashamu Deng
  • The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021), edited by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki


  • Spells of my Name, I.S. Jones
  • The Future of Memory, Anja Saleh
  • Hullo Bu-Bye Koko Come In, Koleka Putuma


  • The Female Fear Factory, Pumla Dineo Gqola
  • Manifesto: On Never Giving Up, Bernardine Evaristo
  • The Sex Lives of African Women, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah
  • The Last Nomad: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert, Shugri Said Salh
  • Things I Have Withheld, Kei Miller