The Perfect Nine is the first-ever title originally written in an African language longlisted for the Booker

Having been longlisted for the 2021 International Booker Prize, The Perfect Nine is the first-ever title originally written in an African language to have made the cut. Wa Thiong’o is also the first to be nominated as both author and translator of the same book. A modern take on the origin story of Kenya’s Gĩkũyũ people, The Perfect Nine is one of those rare books about history that has, itself, made history.

The Booker-nominated Black Moses is a damning portrait of 80s Congo-Brazzaville

Longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize, Alain Mabanckou’s Black Moses zeroes in on corruption in late 1970s Congo-Brazzaville. In this cynical coming-of-age story, Mabanckou changes the narrative by troubling what is expected of the bildungsroman. Straddling an array of themes like orphan suffering, governmental corruption, and mental health in a seedy setting, this tale of endearing novice gangsters and charming sex workers offers a refreshing take on the well-worn tropes of urban fiction.

Bernardine Evaristo cuts her teeth on a fun verse novel

The Emperor's Babe is an irreverent and salacious romp that merges together tradition and contemporaneity in a startlingly unique way. Published almost 20 years before Girl, Woman, Other and four years before the similarly daring Blonde Roots, The Emperor’s Babe offers a distinctively different Evaristo. When not slyly winking at the reader who is equal parts befuddled and delighted, this Evaristo reveals the years of genre waywardness it took to mould her distinctive brand of literary experimentation for popular success.