Meet Black British 'Afropolitan' writers of Granta list 2013

Photo: Taiye Selasi

 In 1983, Granta magazine's list of the 20 most promising young British novelists under 40 predicted the authors who would dominate British fiction over the years to come. A decade late the exercise was repeated and in 2003 the list included Zadi Smith. This year the list includes tree promising black British writers: Taiye Selasi, Nadifa Mohamed and Helen-Oyeyemi.

Taiye Selasi has been mentored by Toni Morrison and endorsed by Salman Rushdie. She is Yale- and Oxford-educated, half-Nigerian and half-Ghanaian, born in London, raised in Boston, living in Rome. Her 2005 essay "What Is An Afropolitan?" gave a face to a class of sophisticated, cosmopolitan young Africans who defy downtrodden stereotypes. Her short fiction "The Sex Lives of African Girls" was published in The Best American Short Stories last year. She has also adapted a screenplay for Alicia Keys. Ghana Must Go – named after the Nigerian phrase directed at incoming Ghanaian refugees during political unrest in the 80s – is one of the most hyped debuts of recent times. Check the Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi – review

Nadifa Mohamed, born in 1981, moved with her family to London from Somalia in 1986. Her debut novel “Black Mamba Boy” is based on her father’s tales of his youthful peregrinations in East Africa and Europe during the 1930s and ’40s. In an Granta interview she also speaks about her arrival from Somalia, growing up in Tooting and how she believed from a young age that cats were spies for the government. Also check out the great book review of her debut novel "Black Mama Boy" at the New York Times

Novelist Helen Oyeyemi , as the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, knows how hard it can be to feel at home. But when she was assaulted in broad daylight in a London park, she had no option but to pack her bags, writes the Guardian. Oyeyemi is the author of The Icarus Girl and The Opposite House. Her third novel, White is for Witching, was awarded a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award, and her fourth, Mr Fox, won the 2012 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Award. ‘Boy, Snow, Bird’.


  1. Great article! Celebrating black authors, thought you may be interested in this – WORLDbytes is producing a documentary ‘Every Cook Can Govern: Documenting the life, impact & works of black activist and writer CLR James '. To get the project off to a flying start, the launch will be on Saturday 23rd November 2013 at the Long Room in the historic pavilion at the Kia Oval, Surrey County Cricket Club, London. To pay homage to a truly inspirational figure, the launch will feature a debate ‘Should CLR James be fodder for a 21st century canon?’ Should James’ works be ‘on the list’ because he is black, a Trinidadian or because of the inspiration they provide? Tickets and more details here-

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