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Top 10 Most Popular Authors in Nigeria

Over the years, Nigeria has produced great writers, novelists, poets, and authors generally. The country’s literary sector has also experienced international spotlight, courtesy of these seasoned writers.



From Chinua Achebe to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigeria has equally been well represented on the global literary scene.

In this article, we will highlight the 10 most popular authors in Nigeria, in no particular order.

10. Buchi Emecheta

Florence Onyebuchi Emecheta (OBE) is popularly called “Buchi Emecheta”. Although she died in 2017, her works de ella are still recognized around the world, making her name de ella live even after she’s gone.

Emecheta was a Nigerian-born novelist who stayed in the UK from 1962, having been born in 1944. She was known for her themes of motherhood, child slavery, female independence, and female freedom to get educated.



She was described as the “first successful black woman novelist living in Britain after 1948″. Some of her books are listed below.


  • In the Ditch (1972)
  • Second Class Citizen (1974)
  • The Bride Price (1976)
  • The Slave Girl (1977)
  • The Joys of Motherhood (1979)

Emecheta also has awards and recognitions to her name. She won the 1978 Jock Campbell Prize desde the New Statesman for his novel, “The Slave Girl”. In 2004 too, she featured in the “A Great Day in London” photograph featuring 50 Black and Asian writers for their contributions to contemporary British literature.

She also received an Honorary doctorate of literature from Farleigh Dickinson University in 1992.

9. Helon Habila

Helon Habila- Best Writers in Nigeria

Helon Habila easily makes it to the list of the most popular authors in Nigeria. He is a Nigerian novelist and poet who is famous for his many works and recognition including the Caine prize. Having studied English Language and Literature, he also lectured for 3 years before working with remarkable magazine and newspaper outfits in Nigeria.



Before moving to England in 2002, the novelist, the 55-year-old poet won the Music Society of Nigeria (MUSON) national poetry award for his poem “Another Age” (2000). He equally published his short story collection, Prison Stories. In 2001, he won the Caine Prize for a story from the collection and published his first novel (Waiting for an Angel) a year later.

In 2003, “Waiting for an Angel” earned him the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Africa Region) for “Best First Book”. Habila was equally recognized in 2016 for publishing a book on the infamous kidnapping of the Nigerian Chibok Girls.

Some of his short stories and novels are highlighted below:

  • Prison Stories (2000)
  • Waiting for an Angel (2004)
  • Measuring Time (2007)
  • Oil on Water (2010)
  • Travelers (2019)

Awards and recognitions

  • 2007 Emily Clark Balch Prize (short story)- The Hotel Malogo
  • 2008 Library of Virginia Literary Award for Fiction-Measuring Time
  • 2011 Commonwealth Writers Prize (shortlist)- Oil on Water
  • 2015 Windham–Campbell Literature Prize (Fiction) valued at $150,000
  • 2020 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (shortlist)- Travelers

8. Uzodinma Iweala

Uzodinma Iweala- Best authors in the world

Uzodinma Iweala is a popular Nigerian-American author who is known for his work “Beasts of No Nation”. The book was published in 2005 and was adapted 15 years later as a movie that bagged an award. The piece was also recognized by Time Magazine, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Times, and Rolling Stone. He has published works about HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, homosexuality, and many other topics.



His Works

  • Beasts of No Nation (2005)
  • Speak No Evil (2018)

Awards and Recognitions

  • New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award- 2006
  • Granta magazine’s 20 best young American novelists- 2007

Uzodinma Iweala is the son of the current director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Also, he is the CEO of The Africa Center in Harlem, New York.

7. Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani- Best writers in Nigeria

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani is a Nigerian novelist, essayist, humorist and journalist. She boasts of a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and a Washington Post mention. Adaobi’s writing ambition started at a very tender age. At 13, she already won a cash prize for winning a writing competition.

She is known for two novels- “I Do Not Come To You By Chance” and “Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree”. The latter is her first Young Adult novel based on interviews with girls kidnapped by Boko Haram.

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book (Africa)
  • 2010 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa finalist
  • The Washington Post Best Books 2009
  • 2010 Betty Trask First Book Award
  • 2018 Raven Award of Excellence for her book “Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree”

6. Ben Okri

Ben Okri- Best writers in nigeria



Ben Okri is a Nigerian poet and novelist popularly recognized as one of the foremost literary personalities to herald the postmodernism and postcolonialism movement.

The 63-year-old author is also known for his early criticism of the Nigerian government which according to him, put him on a death list and necessitated his departure from the country. Okri’s career success began when he published his first novel by him “Flowers and Shadows” in 1980. His works and achievements are highlighted below.

  • Flowers and Shadows (1980)
  • The Landscapes Within (1981)
  • Infinite Riches (1998)
  • The Freedom Artist (2019)
  • An African Elegy (poem)- 1992

Awards/Recognition

  • Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts, Trinity College, Cambridge (1991 – 1993)
  • 1991 Booker Prize- The Famished Road
  • Chianti Ruffino-Antico Fattore International Literary Prize – The Famished Road (1993)
  • Honorary Doctorate of Literature, awarded by University of Westminster (1997)
  • Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Ben Okri has over 5 honorary doctorates from various international institutions.

5. Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka- most popular authors in Nigeria

Wole Soyinka is not only one of the most popular authors in Nigeria, he is recognized internationally as a Nobel prize winner. The 88-year-old veteran playwright and author serves as a father and mentor to younger writers. Soyinka’s works, achievements, and career span from the late 1950s to date.



As the first Nigerian to win a Nobel Prize in 1986, Soyinka is considered one of the foremost authors to put Nigeria on the international scene. He is known for his dogged actions against the pre-democratic Nigerian government which earned him imprisonment, solitary confinement, and a death sentence.

Between 1975-1999, Soyinka was a Professor of Comparative literature at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He also taught at Cornell University in the United States as a professor for African Studies and theater arts between 1988 and 1991. The Professor Emeritus was a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Duke University in 2008.

Some of his works and achievements are highlighted below.

plays

  • The Lion and the Jewel
  • A Dance of the Forest
  • The Strong Breed

novels

  • The Interpreters
  • Season of Anomy

Poetry Collections

  • telephone conversation
  • Idanre and other poems
  • A Big Airplane Crashed into The Earth

4. Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe- most popular authors in Nigeria

The list of the top 10 most popular authors in Nigeria would be incomplete without mentioning Chinua Achebe.



Achebe is considered the dominant figure of modern African Literature. He was also regarded as the father of African Literature even though he often rejected the title.

The Nigerian novelist was a poet, and critic whose lifespan from 1930 – 2013 was characterized by great literary works that earned him both indigenous and international recognitions.

He is known for his pre-independence novel, Things Fall Apart and other works such as “No Longer at Ease” and “A Man of the People”. Achebe’s legacy is one that Nigeria continually celebrates to date. Here are some of his works and achievements of him.

novels

  • Anthills of the Savannah
  • Arrow of God
  • No Longer at Ease

Short Stories

  • The Sacrificial Egg and Other Stories
  • The Voter
  • In a Village Church

Awards/Recognitions

Achebe received over 32 honorary degrees from Universities in Nigeria, Canada, South Africa, the United States, and the UK Some of his other honors include:

  • The first Commonwealth Poetry Prize (1972)
  • The Nigerian National Order of Merit, the Order of the Federal Republic (1979)
  • St. Louis Literary Award (1999)
  • Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (2002)
  • Man Booker International Prize (2007)
  • Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2010)
  • First living writer to be represented in the Everyman’s Library collection (reprints of classic literature) published by Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Appointment as Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Population Fund (1999)

3. Sefi Atta

Sefi Atta- most popular authors in Nigeria



Next on our list of most popular authors in Nigeria is Sefi Atta, a Nigerian-American novelist, screenwriter, short-story writer, and playwright. Her books and stage plays have received several international recognitions and multiple language translations. Her plays of her have also been performed globally.

Atta’s first novel, “Everything Good Will Come” won the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa in 2006. Some of her other works are highlighted below.

novels

  • Swallows (2010)
  • A Bit of Difference (2013)
  • The Bead Collector (2019)
  • The Bad Immigrant (2022)

Stage Play Premieres

  • The Engagement, MUSON Centre, Lagos- 2005
  • The Cost of Living, Lagos Heritage Festival- 2011
  • Hagel auf Zamfara, Theater Krefeld, Germany- 2011

2. Chris Abani

Chris Abani- most popular authors in Nigeria

Christopher Abani is another Nigerian-American author who makes the list of the most popular authors in Nigeria. The 1966-born writer is a self-acclaimed new generation writer working to expose the experience of Nigerians to an English-speaking audience.

Abani published his first novelMasters of the Board” at the age of 16 and got one-year imprisonment for it. The book was a political thriller based on a coup carried out in Nigeria. He was impressed a second and third time after the publication of his 1987 novel “sirocco” and his anti-government plays that were performed on the street near government offices. Wikipedia however reports that his third imprisonment placed him on death row until officials were bribed for his release from him.



Here are some of his works.

  • graceland
  • The Virgin of Flames
  • The Secret History of Las Vegas

Novels

  • Becoming Abigail
  • Song For Night

poetry

  • Kalakuta Republic
  • Hands Washing Water
  • Feed me the sun (Peepal Tree Press, 2010)
  • Sanctificum (Copper Canyon Press, 2010)

1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- most popular authors in Nigeria

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian feminist and writer, known for her novels, “Purple Hibiscus” and “Half of a Yellow Sun”.

Adichie’s writing career was hugely influenced by the legendary literary writer equally cited in this post- Chinua Achebe, and Buchi Emecheta. According to her, her choice of Adichie as a literary mentor was made at the age of 10 when she read his classic de ella, “Things Fall Apart”, which according to her, was a typical representation of her story.

Before her rise into the spotlight, Adichie published a collection of poems in 1997 titled “Decision”. During this time, she published works under the name “Amanda N. Adichie”. The author has aroused quite a number of controversies both for her feminism and for her support for the LGBT community. In 2014, she condemned the anti-homosexuality bill, calling it “unconstitutional”. This attracted backlash from many Nigerians including co-authors.



Adichie is not without awards and achievements also but first, let’s see some of her works.

  • americannah
  • For Love of Biafra
  • The Thing Around Your Neck
  • Dear Ijeawele
  • We Should All Be Feminists

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2002 nomination for Caine Prize for African Writing
  • 2002/2003 David T. Wong International Short Story Prize (PEN American Center Award)
  • Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Best First Book (Africa)- 2005
  • Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Best First Book (overall)- 2005
  • 2008 nomination for International Dublin Literary Award

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