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An Introduction To Ghanaian Literature in 5 Writers

An Introduction To Ghanaian Literature in 5 Writers

Picture of Hakeem Adam
Updated: 17 January 2017
Ghanaian literature is traditionally based on oral literature as most histories and stories were passed on by spoken word through song, poetry and folktales. Most of these stories are still accessible, and contemporary Ghanaian writers have found ingénue ways to channel new and traditional ways of telling stories into their books. Below are some of the writers you should pay attention to when it comes to Ghanaian literature.


Ayi Kwei Armah

Ayi Kwei Armah is probably the most distinguished African writer in terms of stylistics. In his debut novel, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, he employs language creatively to build elaborate detail about post-colonial Ghanaian society. He provides brave and well-thought-out criticism of his society, which requires the reader to react. In Ayi Kwei Armah’s prose, expect to find fiction that challenges you as a reader and exposes you to critical subtleties that form a picture of Ghana life.

The Beautyful One Are Not yet Born, Courtesy ofHeinemann Educational Books

The Beautyful One Are Not Yet Born | Courtesy of Heinemann Educational Books

Ama Ata Aidoo

From a young age, Ama Ata Aidoo has demonstrated the ability to write expertly with poetry, prose and drama. She seamlessly switches between these genres to whichever she feels would allow her to express her ideas best. Her primary focus are women’s issues and gender as she uses her work to bring to light the matters that affect contemporary Ghanaian women. Her award-winning novel, Changes is a fierce piece of fiction that exposes people to the different facets of Ghanaian women. This book is an excellent way to introduce yourself to her impressive work.



Changes, courtesy of Feminsit Press

Changes |Courtesy of Feminsit Press

Kofi Awoonor

Ghanaian culture is rooted in oral tradition and it is no coincidence that Ghanian writers exhibit excellent mastery over poetry. Kofi Awoonor, a student and admirer of the traditional poetics of the ewe, known as “Halo” (songs of abuse), marries this with other writing influences in producing his work. As such, his poetry carries a rich mixture of different styles as he employs language tools such as imagery and metaphor to celebrate the past and reconstruct the future. Awoonor and his legacy continue to be a pillar of modern African poetry.

This Earth My Brother, courtesy of Heinemann Educational Books

This Earth My Brother, courtesy of Heinemann Educational Books

Taiye Selasi

Taiye Selasi represents the new wave of African writers who are challenging notion with beautiful and elegant language. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Ghana Must Go, is a masterful display of style as she writes in way that reminds her readers of poetry. Her mixed ancestry also allows her to be adventurous; she shows how this exposure to different cultures and stories has allowed her to analyse her society. Be prepared to be riveted by the pages of her work as her plot development thoroughly thrills you.

Ghana Must Go, courtesy of Penguin Random House

Ghana Must Go, courtesy of Penguin Random House

Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi, similar to Taiye Selasi, is taking a place on coffee table and bookshelves across the world. Her work has the flavour of the cosmopolitan, fast-paced zest of the modern world, while rooted in the illustrious history of the past. Reading her debut novel, Homegoing, the reader will certainly fall in love with her amazing writing skills as well as relish the texture she weaves into her story. Writers like Yaa Gyasi represent the future of Ghanaian Literature; a fresh and exciting wave of crisp story telling.

Yaa Gyasi - Homegoing © Penguin Random House

Yaa Gyasi – Homegoing, Courtesy of Penguin Random House