1 x 60 BBC Four
The continent of Africa is one of the world’s literary super-powers. The Shortlists for the world’s major literary prizes are constantly packed with African authors. Writers like Ben Orki Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Aminatta Forna are among the most exciting literary talents of the early 21st Century, and younger African novels are emerging each year. There are 3 African authors on the 2019 Booker longlist - Oyinkan Braithwaite, Bernardine Evaristo and Chigozie Obioma
This film tells the story of how African novel became a global phenomenon. It begins with the generation of African writers – many of them educated in Britain – who came of age around the time of independence. As literary rates in Africa were increasing and the continent was gripped by a new sense of post-colonial optimism, writers like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Buchi Emecheta, Ama Ata Aidoo and Ousmane Sembène set out to tell the story of Africa in an African voice.
They were assisted by small obscure London publishing house, Heinemann who launched their African Writers Series in 1962. Cheap, affordable editions with striking art work on their orange covers they became a symbol of the new Africa and the voices of its authors.
In this documentary, Nigerian-born presenter and historian David Olusoga explores the incredible story the African novel. He’ll travel to the USA, Uganda and to his home city of Lagos to meet the last of that first generation of writers and in London and New York he’ll meet their successors. Like him their journey into writing began with those little orange Heinemann African Writers Series books.