Fiction so popular, it’s criminal: The Rise of Crime Novels in Africa
The definition of African fiction is often reserved for literary writing that has international appeal, thus excluding popular and genre fiction. Though remarkable African writing is being produced and published on the continent, by publishers such as Cassava Republic Press in Nigeria, Modjaji in South Africa and Kwani Trustin Kenya, literary fiction publishing continues to face problems of affordability, distribution and mass appeal. While there is still potential in the African market for literary works, there is also a range of other fiction which could appeal to a broader and more diverse market.
The tradition of popular and genre fiction is well-developed in Africa: from Onitsha Market Literature in Nigeria, the Pacesetters series across West Africa and the Hausa Soyayya romances thriving today in Kano, Nigeria. South African crime fiction has been on the rise for several years, and this trend has now spread to Nigeria with the launch of two crime fiction imprints: Cassava Crime, from Cassava Republic Press and Cordite, from Parrésia Publishers. African publishers are diversifying by tapping into readers’ desires to be entertained by books which are both accessible and engaged with the vibrancy and challenges of life in contemporary African cities like Lagos, Nairobi and Johannesburg.
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