A list of more than 30 Black European writers and poets you should know

Linton Kwesi Johnson
Interested in reading literature from Black European writers? Here is a list of more than 30 Afro-European writers and poets you should definitely know. The order is purely random, so it’s not a ranking.

1. Léonora Miano (FR)

Léonora Miano

La Saison de l’ombre, is a story by French writer Léonora Miano. The story is set during the height of the slave trade, in the sub-Saharan village of Mulongo. It is the moving story of the villagers’ struggle to cope with the shocking kidnapping of twelve tribe members during a mysterious fire.

 Léonora Miano is a Cameroonian author (born 1973, in Douala) who lives in Paris since 1991. Her debut novel L'Intérieur de la nuit (Dark heart of the night) was translated and published by University of Nebraska Press in 2005. She received the prix Femina in France for La Saison de l’Ombre (published by Grasset in 2013).

With La Saison de l’ombre Léonara Miano continues her project of documenting the 400-year experience of sub-Saharans during the dark times of the slave trade. 

In the video Miano talks about her book.


In her previous book, Les Aubes Ecarlates, the second volume of the trilogy Suite Africaine, a child soldier is haunted by ghosts of the past, slaves who didn’t survive the trip to America.  Read more at http://wordswithoutborders.org/


2. Bernardine Evaristo (UK)

Bernardine Evaristo

Bernardine Evaristo is an author, academic, and activist. Born in London in 1959 to a Nigerian father and white English mother.  

She is best known for her novel "Girl, Woman, Other," which won the Booker Prize in 2019, making her the first black woman to win the award.

Evaristo writes about race, gender, and identity, often through the lens of Black British experiences. Evaristo's work often about on the experiences of Black British women, whose voices have historically been marginalized in British literature.  

In the book "Girl, Woman, Other" she also explores the voices of Black women. And also mixes her own experiences as biracial women in the UK. In cllip she says: "I have members of my family, we're all mixed race, right, so white English and Nigerian. But members of my family who would identify as mixed-race or just aren't uninterested in it.

So I chose to identify as a Black woman many years ago and I think that's how society sees me. But I totally respect somebody who says well I'm mixed-race so why should I identify with one side. 

They won't identify as white because they can't, because society will say well you're not. But actually they can say that's who I am, I'm biracial, I'm multiple heritage, I'm mixed-race. That's absolutely valid and fine and that's what I am within being black. 

So a lifetime of having these conversations has been put into this novel."


Evaristo is also  a professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University and has been an advocate for greater diversity in the publishing industry. She co-founded the Brunel International African Poetry Prize, which seeks to promote African poetry and foster connections between African poets and the global literary community.


3. Radna Fabias (NL)

Radna Fabias

Radna Fabias (1983) was born and raised in Curaçao. She is a graduate of HKU University of the Arts Utrecht. She debuted as a poet with the poetry collection Habitus (2018) which won all major poetry awards in the Netherlands & Belgium, amongst which the Herman de Coninck prize and the Grote Poëzieprijs. 

She was hailed as the Dutch literary talent of 2019 by Dutch National newspaper De Volkskrant. 

In the video she performs the poem 'Oorlog/War" 


4. Igiaba Scego (IT)

Igiaba Scego

The diasporic novel 'Adua' (2015) by Afro-Italian writer Igiaba Scego is translated in English, the novel will published by New Vessel in June 2017.  

Adua is a portrait of a woman who is in search of herself trough a journey from Somalia to Rome. The Italian magazine Panorama writes: "This book depicts the soul and the body of a daughter and a father, illuminating words that are used every day and swiftly emptied of meaning: migrants, diaspora, refugees, separation, hope, humiliation, death.” See the synopis, exerpt and reviews at Newvesselpress.com Also see Afro-Europe: Video: Meet black Italian writer Igiaba Scego

5. Zadie Smith (UK)

Zadie Smith. Photo by JACKIE NICKERSON

In the New York Times British writer Zadie Smith talks about Jamaica, her search of identity in Africa and her new book “Swing Time”.  And just recently she discussed the intersection of class & race in nurturing literary creativity in working class minorities at NYU. 

It's Zadie Smith’s first novel since 2012’s NW. The story about “two brown girls [who] dream of being dancers”, will come out this winter, her publishers have announced.

Editors note: An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from North-West London to West Africa.
In an interview, at NYU, Smith is very sceptical about the future of Black writing in the UK,  "like in England Black writing is really struggling still and me and I guess Monica Ali  and a few other people who published in 2000 thousand and one I guess, we have felt this was going to be the beginning of something and it really has not been the beginning of anything. And there is this African Diaspora of writing but they're wonderful writers but they're all like upper-middle class African writers but black British working-clothes writers that's not a thing that's happening." See video.


Perhaps off topic, but Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in conversation with British novelist Zadie Smith

6. Alain Mabanckou (FR)

Alain Mabanckou

What happens to a Congolese man who is anxious to demonstrate the failings of the Black community in Paris, and repeatedly insists that he is not a racist? You will find the answer in the populair French novel Verre Cassé, or in English, Broken Glass by French writer Alain Mabanckou.

The author of seven novels and six collections of poetry, Alain Mabanckou is already well known and celebrated across the Francophone world. His novels have been translated into more than fifteen languages, including Hebrew, Korean, Spanish, Catalan, and Norwegian. In 2006, he was awarded France’s prestigious Prix Renaudot for his novel Mémoires de por-épic (Memoirs of a Porcupine), a literary interpretation of a number of African folktales. 

He is widely acknowledged as one of the most important and decorated authors writing in French today, according to Critical Flame.

In an interview (video) he opens up about how fictional characters have inspired him, from his teenage years until today.


Alain Mabanckou was born in Congo-Brazzaville in 1966. He spent his childhood in the coastal city of Pointe-Noire where he received his baccalaureate in Letters and Philosophy at the Lycée Karl Marx. After preliminary law classes at The Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville, he received a scholarship to go to France at the age of 22.

7. May Ayim - Afro-German Poet May Performs Poem Against German Nationalism (DE)

May Ayim. Photo by Dagmar Schulz

Afro-German poet May Ayim (1960 - 1996) began the year 1990 with the poem Borderless and brazen: a poem against the German “u-not y” .  She discovered that the German reunification in 1990 excluded everyone who was not white and German, and was part of a minority. The poem was published after her death in the book ' Grenzenlos und unverschämt' (in English: 'Borderless and Brazen').


 “borderless and brazen: a poem against the German “u-not y.”
i will be African
even if you want me to be german
and i will be german
even if my blackness does not suit you
i will go
yet another step further
to the farthest edge
where my sisters – where my brothers stand
o u r
i will go
yet another step further and another step and
will return
when i want
and remain
borderless and brazen
for Jaqueline and Katharina
(Translation by May Ayim)


8. Marie NDiaye (FR)

Marie NDiaye

Marie NDiaye’s 'Three Strong Women' ((French: 'Trois Femmes puissantes') won the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary award, when it appeared in 2009 and made her, according to a survey by L’Express-RTL, the most widely read French author of the year.


The title suggests a story about three strong women, but that is not the case. "This isn't really a novel about three strong women because, out of the three protagonists, one seems delusional, one a victim of circumstance, and the other a deranged man", writes British writer Bernadine Everisto.

9. Linton Kwesi Johnson (UK)

Linton Kwesi Johson

Linton Kwesi Johnson needs no introduction. Much of his poetry is political, dealing primarily with the experiences of being an African-Caribbean in Britain. "Writing was a political act and poetry was a cultural weapon," he told an interviewer in 2008.

He has also written about issues such as British foreign policy, and the death of anti-racist marcher Blair Peach. His most striking and celebrated work was arguably produced in the 1980's, with Johnson’s spirit of anger and protest finding its ideal subject and opposite under Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government. 

Poems such as 'Sonny's Lettah' and 'Di Great Insohreckshan' (both featured here) contain accounts of police brutality upon young black men, and capture the period’s unwritten attitude of resistance and antagonism in their empathic descriptions of rioting and imprisonment. Told via the uncompromising, yet generous and inventive use of unstandardised Jamaican patois, the poems are alive with Johnson’s relish of the tics and rhythms of spoken language.

See more at: http://www.poetryarchive.org

The poem 'Sonny's Lettah' is of course famous. So the video and the written poem.

The written poem: Sonny's Lettah

Video: Di Great Insohreckshan

 A meeting between Edouard Glissant and Linton Kwesi Johnson

This short film is a classic. The late French Caribbean writer Édouard Glissant (1928 – 2011) and the Britisch Jamaican Dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson discuss the concept of identity.

The late writer Édouard Glissant (1928 – 2011) is widely acknowledged as one of the most important Caribbean writers of the past half-century. 

In 2002, Linton Kwesi Johnson became the only second living poet and first black poet to have his work published in Penguin`s Modern Classic series. Both poets are major key-figures of this and the last century, Linton Kwesi Johnson, the father of Dub poetry and Edouard Glissant, has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature for his writings on creolization processes and aesthetics of worldliness. These two friends meet on a summer day....

Starring Edouard Glissant, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, with music by Linton Kwesi Johnson and Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky That Subliminal Child. I loved the conversation and the atmosphere.

You can see the entire film at Culture unplugged


10. Sharon Dodua Otoo (DE/UK)

Sharon Dodua Otoo. Photo by SN/ORF

"Black British writer won the major German-language fiction award in 2016. Sharon Dodua Otoo takes €25,000 Ingeborg Bachmann prize with Herr Gröttrup Sits Down, about the rocket scientist who worked for the Nazis, then the USSR, " wrote The Guardian. She won the award in July.

Sharon Dodua Otoo started her journey back in 2011 when she launced her witnessed book series. A  books series which captures the voices of German authors in English. A project that turned out to be very succesfull.  

In an interview (video) on ORF,  Dodua Otoo is asked what literature can do that political engagement can't do. She explains that political engagement to her means protesting and  voicing your opinion on social issues, like racism.  Literature on the other hand can give people the oportunity to let them see the world from another perspective. This will perhaps create the possibility that we can be more emphatically towards each other. 


11. Warsan Shire, The British Poet Who Gave Poetry to Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ (UK)

Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire needs no introduction. "When the credits roll on Beyoncé’s new visual album, “Lemonade,” which had its premiere on Saturday on HBO, one of the first names to flash on screen doesn’t belong to a director, producer or songwriter. It belongs to a poet: Warsan Shire, a rising 27-year-old writer who was born in Kenya to Somali parents and raised in London," writes The New York Times. 

In 2012 Warsan Shire became the first ever Young Poet Laureate for London at the age of 25.


One of Warsan Shiri famous poems, is the poem 'For women who are difficult to love'. This poem used Beyoncé for the clip 'Hold up' from  the album "Lemonade".


The Guardian writes, "She writes of places where many Beyoncé fans rarely go, the portions of London where the faces are black and brown, where men huddle outside shop-front mosques and veiled women are trailed by long chains of children.  

12. Caryl Phillips (UK)

Caryl Phillips

The European Tribe is the first book of essays by Caryl Phillips, published in 1987. Seeking personal definition within the parameters of growing up black in Europe, he discovers that the natural loneliness and confusion inherent in long journeys collide with the bigotry of the "European Tribe"—a global community of whites caught up in an unyielding, Eurocentric history.

Phillips illustrates the scenes and characters he encounters, in places like poverty-stricken Casablanca, racy Costa del Sol, and peaceful Provence, where he muses with writer James Baldwin over dinner about the state of the human spirit. He explores Venice through the Shakespearean outcast Othello and views Amsterdam through the eyes of young Anne Frank.

The European Tribe was awarded the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize. 

In 1993 he published historical novel Crossing the River. It's story about three black people during different time periods and in different continents as they struggle with the separation from their native Africa. He dramatised the novel and wrote a story of love and race set in Yorkshire during the Second World War

Phillips writes on the trans-atlantic slave trade from many angles, and his writing is concerned with issues of origins, belongings and exclusion.

13. Gisèle Pineau -  Exile (FR)

Gisèle Pineau

Gisèle Pineau was born, and spent the first fourteen years of her life, in Paris. Her parents, originally from the island of Guadeloupe, were part of the massive transplantation of Antilleans to the métropole after World War II (Bumidom). 

Most had left their homeland hoping to improve their lives and their children’s prospects. Born French nationals, all theoretically enjoyed equal footing with the Parisian French. The color of their skin, however, meant a far different reality for Pineau’s family and their fellow émigrés.

They lived on the outskirts of the city and on the margins of French society and culture.  'Exile According to Julia' ('L'Exil selon Julia'), 1996, is Gisèle Pineau’s compelling portrait of alienation and exile, which was born of that experience.

 An interview with Gisèle Pineau.


Exile According to Julia is a novel about longing to belong, longing for stability, longing for a sense of self, a home. This autobiographical work is Gisele Pineau’s third novel and a beautiful tribute to the grandmother who provided her with pieces of this precious belonging, and in return Pineau bears tender witness to this grand mother, “Man Ya” (a.k.a. Julia of the title), revealing her joyous secrets of life in the process. Review University of Minnisota

14. Aminatta Forna - The memory of love (UK)

Aminatta Forna

Aminatta Forna is a British author and former journalist born in Scotland in 1964. She is born  to a Scottish mother and Sierra Leonean father. 

Her work is characterized by   themes such as identity, displacement, and the human relationship with nature. One of her highly acclaimed books is the memory of war.

'The memory of love' is a story' (2011) of war, says Aminatta Forna in an interview. And that's exactly what it is. 

Her story is a luminous tale of passion and betrayal, encompassing the political unrest that racked Sierra Leone in the late 1960s and the ruinous civil war of the 1990s, as well as the days of tenuous quiet when those who managed to stay alive struggled to cope with the physical and mental scars of those years, wrote the New York Times.

The Memory of Love, winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best Book Award 2011,  was described by the judges as "a bold, deeply moving and accomplished novel" and Forna as "among the most talented writers in literature today". 

The Memory of Love was also shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2012, the Orange Prize for Fiction 2011 and the Warwick Prize for Writing.

15. Alex Wheatle - Brixton Rock (UK)

Alex Wheatle

Alex Wheatle grew up in a children’s home and went to prison after taking part in the Brixton riots in 1981. While serving his sentence, a cellmate advised Wheatle to start reading books.

“James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and the poetry of Langston Hughes – that informed me greatly,” says Wheatle in this clip from BBC Culture’s Textual Healing event at the 2019 Hay Festival. “So when I left I came out a much more educated man than I was when I was first sentenced.”  

The BBC made a film about his live 'The story of Alex Wheatle and the Brixton uprising of 1981'


 Brixton Rock

The story Brixton Rock (1999) is set against the backdrop of the Brixton race riots in London in the 1980s, the novel tells a story of overcoming obstacles from a teen's perspective. Brenton Brown, a 16-year-old mixed-race youth, has lived in a children's home all his life and is haunted by the absence of his mother.

Complications arise, however, when he finally meets his mother and then falls dangerously in love with his half-sister. Killer Terry Flynn also scars Brenton's life and leaves him wanting revenge. Through it all, this determined teen is driven to pursue education and recognize his true self in the midst of chaos.

16. Thomté Ryam - 'Banlieue noire' by (FR)

Thomté Ryam

The downfall of a talented football player in a French ghetto, is the theme of the debut novel ‘ Banlieue noire’ (2005) by Thomté Ryam. Thomté Ryam was born March 19, 1979, he is a young French writer of Chadian origin.

He describes the universe of French suburbs through the eyes of a footballer. It’s alternative vision of the suburbs, away from negative stereotypes in the media.

Main character is Sebastien, a young man of a city near Paris. He hopes to be spotted by a professional football team so he can be drafted in the pro leage.  His dream comes true. His team will play a crucial match, and at this game scouts of professional team will follow his performance.   “Three days to wait and we need to focus”, he says to himself.  But in the suburbs, that’s not easy. The day before the match, Sebastian goes to a party with friends. The descent into hell begins.

17.  Bessora -  Cueillez-Moi Jolis Messieurs...  (CH/FR)


The novel Cueillez-moi jolis messieurs... (Pick Me Pretty Sirs...) by Gabonese-Swiss  Bessora is a story about the relationship between two women who are both marginalized by circumstances.

Claire is a HIV infected language teacher, who is divorced after twenty years of marriage and abandoned by her friends.  When she wants to commit suicide,  she is rescued by Juliette Ebinel, a young widow with two daughters, who has nowhere to go. By expressing her gratitude, Claire hosts Juliet and her daughters in her already cramped apartment.  As time moves on Claire regains her thirst for live, while Juliette continues her endless search for housing to get out of her condition as an outcast.

Bessora leads us into a ruthless and cruel world.  The world of "no" , the world of the  undocumented and the homeless.  Her characters seek a normal live and an uneventful existence, but they have to overcome many obstacles to fulfill their dreams.

The novel Cueillez-moi jolis messieurs... (Pick Me Pretty Sirs...) of 2007 received the Grand prix littéraire d'Afrique noire.
Bessora, full name Sandrine Bessora Nan Ngueaia, was born in 1968 in Belgium, but she left there after two months. 

In the clip she talks about herself, the society and her books.


Her father is from Gabon , her mother from Switzerland. She grew up in Africa, Europe and the USA.  Bessora means ‘She who is sharing’.

18. Andrea Levy on Small Island: "I never thought people would be interested" (UK)

Andrea Levy

"I've grown up thinking I was worthless and that the story of the Caribbean was worthless and that people who came from that area were worthless. 

And then you write a book and people are interested in it", says Andrea Levy in an interview about her novel, SMALL ISLAND. Small Island is a 2004 prize-winning novel, it was adapted for television in two episodes by the BBC in 2009.

In 1948 Andrea Levy's father sailed from Jamaica to England on the Empire Windrush ship and her mother joined him soon after. Andrea was born in London in 1956, growing up black in what was still a very white England. This experience has given her an complex perspective on the country of her birth.

Hortense dreams of England - Small Island - BBC

In 1948 Andrea Levy's father sailed from Jamaica to England on the Empire Windrush ship and her mother joined him soon after. Andrea was born in London in 1956, growing up black in what was still a very white England. This experience has given her an complex perspective on the country of her birth.

19. Olumide Popoola (DE)

Olumide Popoola

"This is not about sadness", is the first debut novella (2010) of  the London-based Nigerian German author, poet, performer Olumide Popoola.

In "this is not about sadness", an unlikely friendship between two complex and traumatised London-based women, one an older Jamaican, the other a young South African, is explored through each character's use of specific language to relate to space, memory and silence.  

In 2017 Pópóọlá's novel When We Speak of Nothing was published. It tells a story of two young black boys in London whose friendship gets tested over several challenges that include sexual and queer identity, racism, bullying, and an unstable political climate 


British novelist Diana Evans in a review in The Financial Times describes When We Speak of Nothing as a "satisfying and perceptive examination of the emergence of the whole person against the odds posed by a constricting society 


20. Astrid Roemer (NL)

Copyright: In de Knipscheer: Astrid Roemer

"Why do I write? I hate the way society is structured; it seems there is no way out for black people, and this is my way to build a world I would like to live in. So my novels are just like music -- they give comfort to blacks and to others who are not part of the status quo," replied Astrid Roemer in an interview. 

Roemer was born in Paramaribo, Surinam, in 1947 and emigrated to the Netherlands in 1966, where she made her debut as a poet in 1970. In 2021 Roemer won the Dutch Literature Prize.

If you’re not Dutch you may not have heard of Surinamese-Dutch writer Astrid Roemer. But she is considered one of the best Surinamese-Dutch writers. Her main obessions are the mystery of being of woman and Suriname. Just recently she endend a fifteen year self-imposed retreat from publicity, but as the classic goes, 'don't call it comeback, she is been here for years'.

The German translation of Lijken op liefde (1997), the second novel in a trilogy, was awarded the LiBeratur Prize

And to finish, the story “Arnold . . . !” 


21. Aminata Aidara - French Immigrant Writing Competition 'Exister à bout de plume' (FR/IT)

Aminata Aidara. Copyright GB

"Exister à bout de plume," was French literary competition which ended in 2012. The competition was initiated by Italian Aminata Aidara (Senegalese father and Italian mother) who studied in France to obtain her doctorate at the Sorbonne.

The project was aimed to give young people (aged 16 to 32) with an immigrant background a voice. It invited them to take up a pen and paper and write down their thoughts in stories, rap songs, poems, and plays. 

 In 2018, Éditions Gallimard published Aidara's first novel, Je suis quelqu'un, the narrative of a family scattered between France and Senegal and a reflection on family origins.


It's story about a secret that haunts the members of a family who are split between France and Senegal. It's a quest for truth where different voices unfold

22. Fatou Diome (FR)

©Michel Nicolas : Fatou Diome

The current Mediterranean migrant crisis was far away when Sengelase Fatou Diome wrote her debut novel The Belly of the Atlantic (French: Le Ventre de l'Atlantique) in 2001, a story about migration, succes and failure. Her novel became a bestseller in France.

Fatou Diome (born 1968 in Niodior) is a Senegalese writer,  her work explores immigrant life in France, and the relationship between France and Africa. Fatou Diome currently lives in Strasbourg, France. 
Her first novel was partly autobiographical and is about Salie, a Senegalese immigrant living in Strasbourg, and her younger brother Madicke, who stayed behind in Senegal. After years of struggle Salie has finally arrived and settled in France. 

Her younger brother dreams of following her to France and to become a successful football player. The Belly of the Atlantic was translated into English, German and Spanish.


Her second novel, Kétala, was published in 2006 in France. In her work Fatou Diome explores France and Senegal, and the relationship between the two countries. 

23. Buchi Emecheta - 'Second-Class Citizen' (UK)

Buchi Emecheta (1944,- 2017) wrote novels, some of which should be on the list of every European Black History Month. Emecheta is an Igbo writer whose novels deal largely with the difficult and unequal role of women in both immigrant and African societies.

Emecheta was married at age 16 and immigrated with her husband to London in 1962. The problems ( sexual politics and racial prejudice)  she encountered in London during the early 1960s provided background for the books that are called her immigrant novels.

In the clip she is interviewed about her book Second-Class Citizen (1974). The interviewer asks: "The book is about a Black woman from Nigeria, who came over to what she thought was the promised land, England to live. Do people really think that England is the promised land when they come over from the black countries?"

Her first two books, In the Ditch (1972) and Second-Class Citizen (1974)—both later included in the single volume Adah’s Story (1983)—introduce Emecheta’s three major themes: the quests for equal treatment, self-confidence, and dignity as a woman  Somewhat different in style, Emecheta’s later novel Gwendolen (1989; also published as The Family) also addresses the issues of immigrant life in Great Britain, writes the Encyclopædia Britannica .

24. John Agard Poem 'Half-cast' On Being Mixed Race (UK)

Copyright: Jay Blessed - John Agard

One of Agard’s most popular poems, Half-Caste, featured on the GCSE syllabus for many years. It is a wry analysis of racial prejudices and misconceptions.


Agard moved to Britain in the late seventies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, cultural differences, class divisions and subverted racial stereotypes abound in his often questing, questioning work, from poems that adopt the Caribbean tradition of limbo dancing as a symbol of freedom and otherness, to darkly comic, bitingly sardonic pieces such as 'Half-caste', one of Agard's best-loved poems, which brilliantly turns that phrase's offensive absurdity inside-out. - See more at: http://www.poetryarchive.org/

25. Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo (ES)

Spanish Guinea

Cultural conflicts between Africa and Spain, ancestral worship competing with Catholicism, and tradition giving way to modernity.  That is what your going find in the novel Shadows of Your Black Memory by Spain-based Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo from Equatorial Guinea. Equatorial Guinea is a country in Central Africa, which was colonialised by Spain, from 1778 to 1968, under the name Spanish Guinea.

Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo (born 1950 in Neifang, Spanish Guinea) is a writer/journalist and part of a movement of young Afro-descended authors who have contributed their African experience and traditions to Hispanic culture.  He wrote the novel (orginal title) 'Las  tinieblas  de  tu  memoria  negra' in 1987.

The novel is set during the last years of Spanish rule in Equatorial Guinea, Shadows of Your Black Memory presents the voice of a young African man reflecting on his childhood. Through the idealistic eyes of the nameless protagonist, Donato Ndongo portrays the cultural conflicts between Africa and Spain, ancestral worship competing with Catholicism, and tradition giving way to modernity. The backdrop of a nation moving toward a troubled independence parallels the young man’s internal struggle to define his own identity.

 "The boy's struggle to harness the competing visions of cultural and religious superiority that haunt his subconscious is beautifully reflected in Father Ortiz's determination to convert Tio Abeso to Catholicism. A fascinating intellectual joust ensues, in which provocative and contemporary social tensions clash head on," writes The Independent.

A conversation with Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo.

Words without borders writes:" Though the unnamed boy, whose story is narrated by his adult self, feels a vocation to the Catholic priesthood, he is also alive to the power of traditional ceremonies. His circumcision, at about six years old, is dramatically told, as is a later ceremony (at age thirteen) in which his head is anointed with the blood of a toucan.

 This book is definitly a classic. 

See a translate short story: Donato NDONGO-BIDYOGO, The Dream.

26. Johannes Anyuru (SE)

Copyright: Mercies May: foto Johannes Anyuru

Afro-Swedish Johannes Anyuru wrote the Scandinavian hit novel A Storm Blew in from Paradise. Johannes Anyuru (Sweden, 1979), son of a Ugandan father and a Swedish mother, is a novelist and poet.

It's both the story of Anyuru’s Ugandan father P, and Anyuru himself. P makes a promising start as a fighter-pilot, but no matter what he does or where he goes, he is unable to escape his fate. He finds himself a refugee, on the run like a hunted animal―while his only dream is to fly.

"Searingly poetic style rescues the mbleakness of living in exile", wrote The Independent.

In a interview (clip) Anyuru talks about how he became a writer


 A Storm Blew in from Paradise sold over 44,000 copies in Sweden and has been translated to Norwegian, Danish, German and French. The book won the Svenska Dagbladet’s Literature Prize and the Aftonbladet Literature Prize 2012.
Read 10 page of the book at World Editions (pdf)

27. George Lamming - 'In the Castle of My Skin' (UK)

Orginal cover

'In the Castle of My Skin' is one of those forgotten must-read postcolonial novels. The novel is the first and much acclaimed novel by Barbadian writer George Lamming (1937). The novel won a Somerset Maugham Award and was championed by eminent figures such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Richard Wright.

In the Castle of my skin is an autobiographical account of George Lamming’s childhood growing up in Barbados. It's about social hierarchy, power relationships and identity.  leaving the island is the only escape from the post-slavery social structure he grew up in. The only way to decolonise the mind, so speak.  Although the scene is Caribbean, the novel was written two years after Lammings arrival in London.

In a story in the Guardian Lammy writes: "Migration was not a word I would have used to describe what I was doing when I sailed with other West Indians to England in 1950. We simply thought we were going to an England that had been painted in our childhood consciousness as a heritage and a place of welcome. It is the measure of our innocence that neither the claim of heritage nor the expectation of welcome would have been seriously doubted. (..) Read more The Guardian.

28. Jay Barnard's Urban Poetry (UK)

Jay Barnard

Jay Barnard's poems are often set against an urban backdrop, and in ‘Migration’ she imagines London’s tube system as a human body – “The tunnels were arterial,/ the intermittent lamps like a spinal constellation/ and each station was a throbbing heart” – and its buildings linked to human history, as in “the blank menace of so many windows,/ imagine the fear of the first people huddled, haunted/ one hundred, thousand years ago.”

Bernard's poetry collection, Surge, won the 2020 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award.

29. Poet Kat Francois - Tube Rage and Ordinary [Absent Father] (UK)

Copyright: Kat Francois

On her website Kat Francois writes: "Kat is a performance poet with many accolades, including being the first person to win a UK televised poetry slam, held on BBC3 in 2004. 

Following this success, Kat was invited to take part in the World Slam Championships in Rotterdam, competing over 2 rounds against national champions from Canada, USA, Sweden, Australia, Germany, South Africa. Kat won the competition and was crowned World Slam Champion 2005. Kat has been published in a number of anthologies. Her first collection, Rhyme and Reason, was published in 2008."




I was 12 when we first met
You spotted mum and me in the street.
Jumped in the back of your blue Ford
She told me you were my father.
I shyly said hello,
There were some similarities
You had teeny mouse ears just like mine
Our skin colourings matched, dark chocolate.
But I dreamt you would be taller
With a handsome movie star face
Dazzling pearly teeth
And manicured nails.
I dreamt you’d have a deep man voice,
A warm enveloping laugh.
I dreamt that when we met you would hug me
And shower me with love and long lost apologies.
But that did not happen
You were ordinary
You could have been anyone’s father
I made a mental note to ask mum if she was sure.
I took sneaky looks at you
Through the rear view mirror
You smiled
I did not smile back.

copyright Kat Francois

30. Black  -  Afro-European Literature from the Low Countries


The anthology Zwart. Afro-Europese Literatuur uit de Lage Landen (in English: Black. Afro-European Literature from the Low Countries) was launched on 1 February in TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

It’s a collection of stories - fiction and non-fiction (in Dutch) - by writers  with African roots from the Netherlands and Belgium. The authors’ backgrounds differ in terms of their homeland, culture, and language, but they share a hybrid identity. The book is edited by Vamba Sherif and Ebissé Rouw.

From the book read the intro

The included authors in alphabetical order (homeland-origin/country) from left to right:

  • Simone Atangana Bekono (Cameroon/Netherlands) - writer, poet |  Begrafenis
  • Neske Beks (Gambia/Belgium/Netherlands) -  actrice, writer
  • Heleen Debeuckelaere (Rwanda/Belgium) - historian
  • Nozizwe Dube (Zimbabwe/Belgium), student
  • Clarice Gargard (Liberia/Netherlands) - journalist
  • Dalilla Hermans (Rwanda/Belgium) - opnion maker, writer 
  • Sabrine Ingabire (Rwanda/Belgium) - student, writer
  • Kiza Magendane (Congo/Netherlands) -  student,writer
  • Ahmad Al Malik (Sudan/Netherlands) -  writer
  • Alphonse Muambi (Congo/Netherland) - writer
  • Hélène Christelle Munganyende (Rwanda/Netherlands), 
  • Olave Nduwanje (Burundi/Netherlands) - lawyer, activist
  • Melat G. Nigussie (Ethiopia/Belgium) - publicist
  • Seada Nourhussen (Ethiopia/Netherlands) - journalist
  • Anousha Nzume (Cameroon/Netherlands) - actrice, writer, opinion maker
  • Olivia U. Rutazibwa (Rwanda/Belgium) - academic
  • Vamba Sherif (Liberia/Netherlands) - writer
  • Babah Tarawally (Sierra Leone/Netherlands) - journalist
  • Chika Unigwe (Nigeria/Belgium) - writer

Articles (in Dutch)
Black writers are ready to get even with White cannon
Hier zijn de Afropeanen
Jagen op konijnen met een machinegeweer


Also see the list: Afro-European writers and books

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