A Modern Pan African Syllabus

Back when I lived in New York, I worked in publishing. I was and continue to be amazed by the wealth of books our community the world over produces and in this light, have decided to share some of the books that cross my desk with you…

Want to know what books are a must-read? What books are coming out of Nigeria, New York or even Jamaica? Well, follow me as I take you on my literary journey as I catch up on all the amazing books out in the world that’s by us and for us. I’ll be regularly reporting on what books are a must-have and the who’s who of Pan African writing. Happy reading! 


A Modern Pan African Syllabus
Writer: Igoni Barrett

Title: Blackass

Author: A. Igoni Barrett

Publisher: Chatto & Windus – Vintage

Publishing year: 2015

A. Igoni Barrett is a Nigerian writer and Blackass is his first novel, published in 2015.  He is a winner of the BBC World Service short story competition and also has a collection of short stories under his belt entitled Love is Power, or Something Like That.  In 2014 he was named on the Africa39 list of sub-Saharan African writers under 40.

So, what could a book entitled Blackass possibly be about that has the critics raging?  Well, can you imagine what your life would be like if you woke up one day in modern day Nigeria as a white man?  That’s just what happened to Furo Wariboko a young Lagos native and suddenly, his life takes a drastic turn for the – better? Incredibly witty and a priceless commentary on privilege, Blackass has all the signs of a modern classic: timeless, timely, intelligent and unflinchingly relevant.  A must read if you have not done so yet.


A Modern Pan African Syllabus
writer Ta-Nehisi Coates


Title: Between the World and Me

Author: Ta-Nehisi Coates

Publisher: Speigel & Grau

Publishing year: 2015

Americans believe in the reality of “race” as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural world. Racism—the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce and destroy them—inevitably follows from this inalterable condition. In this way, racism is rendered as the innocent daughter of Mother Nature, and one is left to deplore the Middle Passage or the Trail of Tears the way one deplores an earthquake, a tornado, or any other phenomenon that can be cast as beyond the handiwork of men. But race is the child of racism, not the father.” 

– Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between the World and Me is a letter from a man growing up with front row tickets to the experience of growing up Black in America, to his young son. It is a letter of a man who has to make sense of a world, as best as he can, in the shadow of a country whose freedom and economic success is intricately linked to that of the bondage and oppression of Black Africans and their descendants– and he knows that this is, for him and his son, a necessary action.

Many are already familiar with African American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates from his work at the Atlantic. He is known for his sharp and relevant commentary – often being compared to writer James Baldwin. In a time when African Americans still have a need to create slogans such as “Black Lives Matter” – Coates has been a welcome champion of the rights of Black people in the States. One of the things I have noticed since moving to Denmark is that many have a very inaccurate view of what it can mean to be Black and American. Often, many perceive African Americans as privileged because they are in what some consider “the most powerful country in the world.”  The reality of this opinion is that all it reflects is the ignorance of world to the constant fight for human rights that Blacks have found themselves having to fight since we were brought over to the so-called New World in slave ships. With a disproportionate number of us currently incarcerated in the United States of America, a poverty rate that is astronomically high and what seems to be state-sanctioned killings of our people – it actually doesn’t take long to realize for those who care to look – we are in a state of emergency.