29 Jan Nigerian Fiction in a Nutshell
It is fair to say that Nigerian fiction has grown in leaps and bounds. Authors in these parts have moved on from the days of “Without A Silver Spoon” and “One Week, One Trouble”, and are exploring newer themes. Of course, this is not a dig at the older generation of writers, but it is refreshing to stumble on pages of Nigerian novels, stories and plots that dwell on topics other than war, hunger and all of that “poverty porn” stuff.
The accessibility of the internet has in no small way contributed to the growth of fiction writing in Nigeria. Literary magazines like Brittle Paper, Saraba Magazine and Praxis have provided platforms for young Nigerian writers to express themselves and get their art out there. Others start up literary blogs where they churn out short stories at their own pace, and there are those that display their prowess on their Facebook timelines and Twitter threads.
Sure enough, there has been sufficient expansion, but there is still work to do in the Nigerian literary sphere. There appears to be a chasm of sorts between “Facebook/Instagram writers” and the “real writers”, where one has to transition from merely posting on social media and get published in a magazine or journal of note to be taken seriously. This shouldn’t be so, but it is what it is, and this imaginary categorization plays out at literary events, award listings and even social media interactions. Good fiction writing should be applauded anywhere, whether it springs forth from a Catapult essay or a Facebook comment.
There is also the danger of overflogging certain themes, not least due to their seemingly trendy nature. Young Nigerian writers are often tempted, no thanks to the tastes of particular editors, to keep harping on a particular social issue because it seems “cool” to write about, and riding on that wave would probably get them published, even when their entries turn out to be pastiches. It is important to diversify, or else the recipe would become stale. Living in Nigeria makes for an abundance of stories and topics to choose from, and there is a lot yet unexplored, a lot yet undiscovered. There is need to dig deep and stretch imaginations, if our fiction is going to move forward.
Jerry Chiemeke Is A Screenwriter, Editor, Movie Critic And Lawyer. He Has Been Published In Brittle Paper, The Kalahari Review, Viva Naija, Pulse Nigeria And Kenya’s Daily Nation. Jerry Critiques African Literature For Okadabooks On The Bellanaija Platform. He Is The Winner Of The 2017 Ken Saro Wiwa Prize For Book Reviews And Literary Criticism.