‘We’re Going to Stand Up’: Queer Literature is Booming in Africa


Article written by Abdi Latif Dahir
Reporting from Nairobi, Kenya • 
Published Feb. 17, 2024 Updated Feb. 20, 2024

As a queer teenager growing up in northern Nigeria, Arinze Ifeakandu often found himself searching for books that reflected what he felt.

He combed through the books at home and imagined closer bonds between the same-sex characters. He scoured the book stands in Kano, the city where he lived, hoping to find stories that focused on L.G.B.T.Q. lives. Later, in furtive visits to internet cafes, he came across gay romance stories, but they often focused on lives far from his own, featuring closeted white jocks living in snowy towns.

Ifeakandu wanted more. He began writing short stories in which gay men battled loneliness but also found lust and love in conservative, modern-day Nigeria.

“I have always taken my own desires, my own fears, my own joys seriously,” Ifeakandu, 29, said. “I knew I wanted to write characters who are queer. That’s the only way I am going to show up on the page.”

His stories gained traction with readers, and with critics. In 2017, he became a finalist for the Caine Prize for African Writing, and last year, his debut collection, “God’s Children Are Little Broken Things,” won the Dylan Thomas Prize for young writers.

Ifeakandu’s work is part of a boom in books by L.G.B.T.Q. writers across Africa. Long obscured in literature and public life, their stories are taking center stage in works that are pushing boundaries across the continent — and winning rave reviews.

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Source: NYTimes