The best afro-centric books in speculative fiction from Africa and the diaspora

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an African Australian writer and have a deep passion for black people's stories. I write across genres and forms, and my award-winning works are mostly Afrocentric. I have a master's degree in distributed computer systems, with distinction, a master's degree in creative writing, and a PhD in creative writing. I am especially curious about unique voices in black speculative fiction in transformative stories of culture, diversity, climate change, writing the other, and betwixt. I am an author of several novels and fiction collections, and a finalist in the 2022 World Fantasy Award. I was announced in the honor list of the 2022 Otherwise Fellowships for ‘doing exciting work in gender and speculative fiction’.

I wrote...

Mage of Fools

By Eugen Bacon,

Book cover of Mage of Fools

What is my book about?

Mage of Fools is an Afrofuturistic novel set in a socialist country plagued by climate change. In the dystopian world of Mafinga, Jasmin must contend with a dictator’s sorcerer to cleanse the socialist state of its deadly pollution. 

Mafinga’s malevolent King Magu dislikes books. He and his sorcerer Atari have collapsed the environment to almost uninhabitable. The sun has killed all the able men, including Jasmin’s husband Godi. But Jasmin has Godi’s secret story machine that tells of a better world, and it’s far different from the wastelands of Mafinga. Jasmin’s crime for forbidden literature filled with subversive text is punishable by death. Fate grants a cruel reprieve in the service of a childless queen—Jasmin must discover secrets behind the king and his sorcerer.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Old Drift

Eugen Bacon Why did I love this book?

Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift is a cross-genre book that addresses matters of colonialism and a future Africa with brashness and philosophy. Its subversive text is far-reaching in poignant fiction imbued with intimacy and cultural convergence. The story pays special attention to mothers and children, the importance of identity, and the intense need we have as humans to belong.  

By Namwali Serpell,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Old Drift as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A dazzling debut, establishing Namwali Serpell as a writer on the world stage.”—Salman Rushdie, The New York Times Book Review
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Dwight Garner, The New York Times • The New York Times Book Review • Time • NPR • The Atlantic • BuzzFeed • Tordotcom • Kirkus Reviews • BookPage

WINNER OF: The Arthur C. Clarke Award • The Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award • The Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction • The Windham-Campbell Prizes for Fiction

1904. On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the…

Book cover of Son of the Storm

Eugen Bacon Why did I love this book?

This first book in the Nameless Republic trilogy comes after Okungbowa’s award-winning novel, David Mogo Godhunter, where gods cast a new Lagos into chaos. Son of the Storm offers a powerful voice to women, featuring a prominent female cast in politics, greed, and revenge. Herein is a world strewn with betrayal and superstition. The story ends on a cliff, paving way for the second book in the trilogy by Orbit.  

By Suyi Davies Okungbowa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Son of the Storm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Fantastical beasts and forgotten magic propel a story about ambition and conspiracy." —Fonda Lee

"Everything I love to see in a fantasy story. Masterful." —Jenn Lyons

"[A]mbition and intrigue cause surprises on nearly every page." ―NPR Books

From city streets where secrets are bartered for gold to forests teeming with fabled beasts, a sweeping epic unfolds in this richly drawn fantasy inspired by the pre-colonial empires of West Africa. 

In this world, there is no destiny but the one you make.

In the ancient city of Bassa, Danso is a clever scholar on the cusp of achieving greatness—except he doesn’t…

Book cover of Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora

Eugen Bacon Why did I love this book?

Dominion is a unique black speculative fiction that integrates stories from prominent voices from Africa and the diaspora, including Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Dare Segun Falowo, Mame Bougouma Diene, Dilma Dila, and more. Featuring a foreword by Tananarive Due, the award-winning anthology offers African spirituality, magical realism, Afrofuturistic stories, dystopian worlds and tales that confront in many ways colonialism, social injustice, and capitalism.  

By Zelda Knight, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Nicole Givens Kurtz , Dilman Dila , Eugen Bacon , Marian Denise Moore , Rafeeat Aliyu , Suyi Davies Okungbowa , Odida Nyabundi , Michael Boatman

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dominion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dominion is the first anthology of speculative fiction and poetry by Africans and the African Diaspora. An old god rises up each fall to test his subjects. Once an old woman's pet, a robot sent to mine an asteroid faces an existential crisis. A magician and his son time-travel to Ngoni country and try to change the course of history. A dead child returns to haunt his grieving mother with terrifying consequences. Candace, an ambitious middle manager, is handed a project that will force her to confront the ethical ramifications of her company's latest project—the monetization of human memory. Osupa,…

Book cover of Cyberfunk!

Eugen Bacon Why did I love this book?

Cyberfunk! Anthology extends a new conversation in black speculative fiction by offering cyberpunk with an Afrocentric flavour. Taking stories from Africa and the diaspora, this anthology integrates light and darkness, social justice, and inclusion in black hero/ines as you’ve never seen them before. Each story invites openness and expands the interpretation of black writing and the rising power of the black voice. Featuring stories from Hannibal Tabu, John Jennings, Balogun Ojetade, and edited by a keen-sighted pioneer author, editor, and publisher Milton J. Davis. Find out how to play the odds in a twisted world.   

By Milton Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cyberfunk! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What is Cyberfunk? It is a vision of the future with an Afrocentric flavor. It is the Singularity without the Eurocentric foundation. It's Bladerunner with sunlight, Neuromancer with melanin, cybernetics with rhythm.
Nineteen amazing Black Speculative Fiction authors have come together to share their visions on the pages of this book. Prepare to be mesmerized by their stories.

Featuring stories by Eugen Bacon, Zig Zag Clayborne, Gerald L. Coleman, Ashleigh Davenport, Milton J. Davis, Minister Faust, Donovan Hall, John Jennings, Ronald Jones, Nicole Givens Kurtz, Kyoko M, Carole McDonnell, Violette Meier, T.C. Morgan, Balogun Ojetade, Hannibal Tabu, Jarla Tangh, Napoleon…

Book cover of Incomplete Solutions

Eugen Bacon Why did I love this book?

This Nommo-award-winning collection is experiential in its offerings of literary fragments yet bold and playful—a clean taste of Wole Talabi’s creativity and curiosity on genre and reimagining a future Africa. Talabi is unlike your typical short story writer, if there’s ever one. His stories are sharp, brisk, hauling the reader to mindful captivation. The collection is a transcultural odyssey into Yoruba mythology in stories of logic, illogic, the known and unknown, relationship and fallout, trust and betrayal, transposition, exposition, and much escapade. Virtual reality has a role here, as do gods and goddesses, victors, and survivors. Incomplete Solutions is a cross-genre degustation of possibilities and impossibilities that deconstruct the reader’s mindset. 

By Wole Talabi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Incomplete Solutions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An elderly woman in early 22nd century Lagos is called in to help test the artificial intelligence built from her genius mother’s mind, but all is not as it seems in the Nommo-award winning story, “The Regression Test”.

Exiled from Earth for a crime of passion, a young man must learn to survive a barely habitable prison planet and come to peace with his past in “Polaris”.

“Wednesday’s Story”, nominated for the 2018 Caine Prize, is at once a retelling of nursery rhymes and folklore and a meta-fictional meditation on the mechanics, art and power of storytelling.

In the novella…

You might also like...

Book cover of Dulcinea

Ana Veciana-Suarez Author Of Dulcinea

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I became fascinated with 16th-century and 17th-century Europe after reading Don Quixote many years ago. Since then, every novel or nonfiction book about that era has felt both ancient and contemporary. I’m always struck by how much our environment has changed—transportation, communication, housing, government—but also how little we as people have changed when it comes to ambition, love, grief, and greed. I doubled down my reading on that time period when I researched my novel, Dulcinea. Many people read in the eras of the Renaissance, World War II, or ancient Greece, so I’m hoping to introduce them to the Baroque Age. 

Ana's book list on bringing to life the forgotten Baroque Age

What is my book about?

Dolça Llull Prat, a wealthy Barcelona woman, is only 15 when she falls in love with an impoverished poet-solder. Theirs is a forbidden relationship, one that overcomes many obstacles until the fledgling writer renders her as the lowly Dulcinea in his bestseller.

By doing so, he unwittingly exposes his muse to gossip. But when Dolça receives his deathbed note asking to see her, she races across Spain with the intention of unburdening herself of an old secret.

On the journey, she encounters bandits, the Inquisition, illness, and the choices she's made. At its heart, Dulcinea is about how we betray the people we love, what happens when we succumb to convention, and why we squander the few chances we get to change our lives.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Africa, family, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Africa, family, and presidential biography.

Africa Explore 250 books about Africa
Family Explore 3,711 books about family
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography