18 Sep Seven Must-Read African Novels About LGBTQ
Have you wondered if writers are exploring the LGBTQ in Africa? Wonder no more. Here are Seven Must-Read African Novels About LGBTQ to show you the African perspective on the topic.
Africa and LGBTQ
Homosexuality is perceived as a strange culture in Africa— an undisputable reason African authors rarely incorporate LGBTQ themes into their works. Having an LGBTQ theme in your book may embroil a controversy that can be life-threatening. The book itself will be banned.
However, some authors defy this societal norm and stereotype to write about the plights of the LGBTQ community; South Africans and Africans in the diaspora dominate this aspect of literature. Yes, South Africa offers the LGBTQ community that serene environment to thrive, unlike other countries on the continent. South Africa is the only country in Africa that legalized LGBTQ and allows its law to criminalize the act of discrimination against a member of the queer community. However, a country like Nigeria punishes anyone found indulging in homosexuality with death; several other African countries do the same. The rationale behind that is rooted in religion and tradition.
Despite the unfriendly climate that Africa has for LGBTQ people, some African authors still incorporate queer characters into their novels, perhaps in an implicit manner.
This article will explore some of the LGBTQ novels written by black authors.
1. The Death of Vivek Oji — Akwaeke Emezi
Emezi belongs to this category. That is why she pours her feelings and that of the entire queer group into her work. Most of Emezi’s works are classified as autobiographical. She speaks for the voiceless queer people who are being brutally shut up by the authorities in Africa through her novels. The Death Of Vivek Oji, Published in 2020, tells the story of Vivek, whose mother is overprotective in a nonlinear narrative. The story reveals the fate of queer people in Nigeria, where the authority and static culture offer them no room to spring up or raise their voices or arms.
2. You Have To Be Gay To Know God – Siya Khumalo
The South African author tries to tell the world what it’s like to grow up a queer in South Africa. South Africa is undisputably the only country in Africa that doesn’t stifle the right of the LGBTQ community. However, queer people still face discrimination and harassment in some parts of the country, despite the law giving them the full right to live like any other citizen. Khumalo, here, explores how religion and culture shape the minds of South African people toward queer people.
3. Under The Udala Tree — Chinelo Okparanta
The story is about a girl who grew up in Nigeria after the devastating thirty-month war. The country was still trying to forge a promising future at this time. The protagonist, Ijeoma, was struggling to come to terms with her sexuality in an environment where lesbianism was taboo. She got enamored with other girls: Amina and Ndidi but estranges herself from them after facing a backlash from her conservative mother. Her mother eventually browbeats her into marrying a man she doesn’t love, whom she divorces later.
4. Freshwater – Akwaeke Emezi
Also written by Akwaeke Emezi, the writer frequently uses a nonlinear narrative to tell the stories of the underrepresented LGBTQ community in Africa as a whole. Freshwater tells a story of a girl, Ada, who was born ” one foot at the other side” and tries to construct an identity in the homophobic environment wherein she found herself. Ada developed a different identity within herself due to her identity. Her troubling life started in Southern Nigeria, where she was born an Ogbanje. And this required her to die in infancy and come back to life in another birth. Her parents breathe life into her. As she left Nigeria for America for her education, her different self grew stronger and different in purpose.
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5. The Quiet Violence Of Dreams — Sello Duiker
The story rallies around Tshepo, who was hooked on drugs in South Africa, Cape Town. His dirty lifestyle costs him his sanity. Hence, he was taken to Cape Town Mental Institution for rehabilitation. Tshepo ran away from the mental health institution but later decided to return and rehabilitate to secure a release with a repentant self. Tshepo, after he was released from the mental institution, dropped out of school and got a job as a waitress. He lived with someone recently released from prison. Their friendship soon became fragile, and Tshepo’s problem worsened when he lost his waitress job. His desperation to earn made him accept to work as a massager for men at a Parlor, where his sexual consciousness was awakened.
6. Speak No Evil — Uzodinma Iweala
The captivating story tells a story of a young man with Nigerian roots living in America. His parents were conservative, so they didn’t want their son to derail from their fainting footmarks. Unfortunately, the son found solace in queer Community. He concealed his sexual identity from his conservative parents for a long time. When they found out, things got broken.
7. She Called Me Woman — Azerrnah Mohamed
The Nigerian author summed up different stories to brighten the lens through which Nigerians see queer women. She Called Me Woman thinks through what it is like to be a queer woman in a hostile Nigerian environment.