African folklore is a rich and wondrous area full of possibilities to tap into. Many sci-fi and fantasy authors have taken full advantage of this, and crafted their stories around African myths and folktales. Today, we’re looking at 7 books inspired by African mythology. These are wonderful books that will immerse you in their folksy mythical worlds.
7 BOOKS INSPIRED BY AFRICAN MYTHOLOGY
Children Of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
This is an epic fantasy that draws on Nigerian folklore to create a unique magical system and critique the racism prevalent in the West. It follows Zelie, as she attempts to recover the lost magic in the region of Orisha. Meanwhile, she also struggles with feelings for an enemy emperor.
Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor
This is a short, crisp sci-fi novella on the surface. But within it is a brilliant and provocatively imaginative story of Fatima, who becomes Sankofa after an encounter with Death. Now, she lives as the Adopted Daughter of Death, with mysterious powers and strange ideas. Now, she searches for an object that fell from the sky with her companion, a fox. Treading delicately the space between modern sci-fi and African folklore, Nnedi creates a story that’s unforgettable for both its content and context.
Taduno’s Song by Odafe Atogun
This short book is an interesting collision of two cultures – it tells the story of Orpheus and Eurydice but adapted to an African (Nigerian) setting. Our central acharacter is Taduno, a great musician who has to go into exile. When he returns, he cannot find any traces of his past life or love, and his life begins revolving around recovering it. In the meanwhile, he must make difficult choices, and sacrifices, regarding his music and his love.
Rosewater by Tade Thompson
Drawing on his Yoruban roots, Thompson crafts the story of Kaara, a psychic agent. As his fellow agents begin to mysteriously die, he must become involved in matters bigger than the earth. He must investigate the alien biodome around which his town Rosewater exists.
The Deep by Rivers Solomon
The magic in this book consists of a group of African slave women who can breathe underwater, and build a community there. These are the descendents of pregnant slave women are thrown into the water while pregnant, and their land memories are too traumatic to conjure. So everyone save our protagonist Yetu remembers them. Seeking out her past, she travels to the surface to unravel her history and her future.
The Famished Road by Ben Okri
The prestigious winner of the Man Booker Prize in 1991, this beautiful folksy first book in a trilogy tells the story of an abiku, or child spirit who can traverse between both the spirit and human realms. With heavy metaphors and symbolisms, this book isn’t too fantasy-driven, but is a deep meditation on the sociopolitics of Africa. It offers deep political commentary on prevalent issues, while also having a magical realist, dreamlike feel to it.
Tail of the Blue bird by Nii Ayikwei Parkes
This Ghanian urban fantasy cum detective novel even uses native language to create an immersive experience. The village in this book is shrouded in supernatural mystery. The inhabitants walk alongside their ancestors and speak the language of the forest, but are threatened by a sinister quasi humanly force. But Kayo, a young forensic pathologist doesn’t believe in the local folklore and superstition and sets out to uncover the mystery through science. But is it really as simple as that? Kayo soon finds that Western reasoning is limited and inapplicable, and strange things keep happening. Soon he is on the tail of a truth that will make Western science redundant. This book says on its cover that it is the story of the ‘mystical heart of Arica’ and we couldn’t agree more.
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