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Cole recently traveled to Lagos for research on a new book about the African megacity. His first published book was set in Nigeria and his second one, set in New York, was listed among The New York Times’ 100 most influential books for 2011.

Western publishing also overlooks a vast body of non-English writing in a country where more than 150 languages are spoken. Hausa-language literature that is self-published, for instance, has thrived in Nigeria’s north, but is unheard of by non-Hausa speakers, said scholar Carmen McCain teaching at Bayero University in Kano.

But the oversights of Western publishing perhaps offer a window of opportunity for local publishers.

Chinelo Onwualu, the editor at Cassave Republic, a small Abuja-based fiction publishing house, is hopeful for Nigeria’s future in publishing.

“It’s really tough publishing in Nigeria right now, but once somebody discovers that golden formula to make it work in our environment, some very exciting things are going to take place,” she said.