AFRICA IS A COUNTRY: A BIT OF AFRICAN LITERATURE

Image from penguinrandomhouse.co.za

Welcome to Day 7 of #WinterABC2022 and as we are about to finish the week, I decided to dive into the literature section of the continent. I plan on highlighting some books I have read over the years by African Authors. Continuing with the tradition of promoting African sources of information, today I am plugging Brittle Paper, one of the best sources for all things African literature. You can find my previous #WinterABC2022 posts here.

My favourite book of all time is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, Mr. Hosseini has a way with words and Afghanistan has never looked the same to me. When I read books, I tend to visualize the place the author is writing about and try to imagine the characters as real people in Harare, Lagos, Kabul or London. I have read books from all over but nothing compares to reading a book set in Africa. I see myself, my family and friends in these characters whose lives and experiences could basically be my own. For this post, I highlight six African books I have read in recent years that I found interesting and worth sharing.

1. Yaa Gyasi – Homegoing

The story of two half sisters and their descendants is told in a multi generational tale that takes one from Ghana to America and back. This book remains one of my top fiction reads of all time. I occasionally find myself thinking about some of the characters and what would have happened had they made different choices. Yaa Gyasi has a new book out, Transcendent Kingdom, of which I am expecting a copy soon!

2. NoViolet Bulawayo- We Need New Names

Darling’s childhood in Zimbabwe is relatable in several ways and when she moves to America at 10, you sort of feel relieved for her. But as someone who lived in America, you know that this is when things really fall apart for her. You know she will be alright eventually but boy the journey there. We need new names is the tale of a Zimbabwe that is going through the wringer and how this impacts its people. No one is spared. NoViolet Bulawayo has a new book out titled Glory.

3. J.M. Coetzee- Disgrace

I still remember when I picked this up in the library. I had been on an African authors reading sprint and thought let me hear from the white African guy. Self destruction sometimes can essentially be what saves you though it is quite hard to imagine why David Lurie would essentially ruin his life. It is hard to pity him but his daughter certain deserves our pity I think. Put simply, Disgrace tries to put white guilt or privilege, maybe both into a context that might make sense to the masses. I probably need to read it again at some point and also read more of Coetzee.

4. Sefi Atta- A Bit of Difference

I had never heard of Sefi Atta until I picked up this book. A bit of difference tells the story of Deola Bello who returns home to Nigeria after a life as an expat in Europe. What I liked about this book was that it tells a complex story in an easy to follow manner. You also get a glimpse of the upper class Nigerian lifestyle and might even of think of moving to Lagos.

5. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie- Americanah

I think it would be amiss to not include the Queen of African writing in this list. I read Americanah during my freshman year of college in America and it felt as if Chimamanda was writing about me. Ifemelu was always going to be caught between Nigeria and America. The ending though, a few more lines would not have hurt Ms. Adichie.

6.Leymah Gbowee- Mighty Be Our Powers

An autobiography of Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian Nobel Peace prize winner and peace activist who helped bring about peace in her home country of Liberia during the second Liberian Civil War. Leymah Gbowee may have had several detours in her journey to find purpose but she got there. She made it despite the hurdles. An excellent read.

What are some of your favourite African lit reads?

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