I’ve recently begun getting into podcasts and This Afropolitan Life (TAL) has become an early favorite. TAL is “a blog that inspires Afropolitan women to live stylishly, adventurously, conscientiously, and confidently—by a woman who’s trying to do the same. “ Clarissa Bannor hosts each show (or at least each episode I’ve listened to thus far) where she catches up with influencers in the arts, entertainment and the table. You thought “politics” was going to take the last category eh? No! I think we Africans are probably more invested in what we eat than who runs our respective democracies/dictatorships. (See the Jollof Wars for reference.)
So as I was saying, I tuned into this week’s episode because Clarrisa was interviewing Zahrah Ahmed, curator of Book Shy Books about what books should be on our beach/summer reads for 2016. @bookshybooks and I recently began following one another on Twirra, and it’s always nice to place a voice with a handle. I listened in with a smile playing about on my lips for the full 28 minutes. ( Click HERE to listen to their amusing conversation.)
Clarissa and Zahrah ran down an impressive list of authors and titles from varying genres; Genres like sci-fi, young adult and horror that don’t readily come to mind when we think of “African literature”. Ben Okri, Chimamanda No-Last-Name-Needed, NoViolet Bulawayo, Nnedi Okorafor and Buchi Emecheta made the list for obvious reasons. These are all brilliant African writers. NONE of these authors write steamy (African) romance, however. When it comes to sex in the African context – or between two African partners particularly – I think the perception that the sex is primarily (and unavoidably) awkward, messy, cumbersome and/or forced or violent in literature still persists.
Perhaps this perception is what prompted Clarissa to ask earnestly:
“African sex scenes…who does that well? I’ve heard Boakyewaa Glover does a good job in The Justice. Do we typically do good sex scenes?”
…to which Zahrah earnestly replied:
“Well, Ben Okri won the bad sex in fiction award.” Then she mentioned Ankara Press.
…which had me screaming at my iPhone:
“Ladies! Sisters!! Africans write loads of steamy, panty sopping, abeg let me get a drink of ice-water before we continue, sex!”
They couldn’t hear me outchea in the ether, so there was only one thing to do: head over to Twirra and take the conversation there. After much playful banter, Zahrah suggested that I put together a list of steamy African literature for beginners. Never one to back down from a challenge, to scooped up the gauntlet and will now introduce to some and present to others
Ten Books to Get you Hyped about African Romance/Sex/Erotica.
- The Justice – Boakyewaa Glover
- TOWGA (The One Who Got Away) – Sharlene Apples
- Destiny Mine – Nana Prah
- Chancing Faith – Empi Baryeh
- Africa Hot: West African Stories of Sex and Love – Nnenna Marcia
- The Daughters of Swallows – Malaka Grant
- Keeping Secrets – Kiru Taye (Kiru also writes fantastic period drama/historical romance.)
- Everything Nana Malone has ever written – Nana Malone (Seriously. It’s hard to pick ONE title!)
- Lover of Her Sole – Malaka.
- Novellas from Ankara Press – Various Authors
The content in each of these titles is diverse with the heat ranging from PG-13 to R. Read your blurbs and choose books according to your steam tolerance wisely! And don’t worry: there aren’t any doe-eyed women strolling wistfully in meadows contemplatively reflecting on whether their paramour would’ve fought harder for the longevity of the relationship if only she’s pounded her fufu a little harder and made it a little softer. What I like about each of these books is that the heroines are relatable and realistic. This is contemporary African romance!
You’ve probably noticed that few of the names of the authors on this list are “big in the industry”. That’s because African romance – with its themes and scenes and reactions they illicit are enjoyed privately – does not have the benefit of broad-based support publicly. That’s a political discussion for another time. Nevertheless, these authors produce great work filled with rich plots and multi-dimensional characters.
Have you read any of the books on this list? Is there a title or an African author who you would recommend to someone who’s curious about the genre? Leave the details in the comments below!