Today is (was) Africa Day. My favourite way of celebrating Africa is by celebrating her literature – and by implication, her narratives.
I have loads of posts about South African books, but not one about the continent. Here is a handful of my favourite pan-African books. There are many more. I am shamefully missing a bunch of countries on the continent – please do recommend some good books in countries not listed below. Preferably written by an author from the relevant country.
Note: Linked to my reviews where appropriate.
- Congo: Mama Koko and the Hundred Gunmen by Lisa J. Shannon – if you read my review, you’ll see I didn’t give this a high rating. It is not the best-written book, and has a saviour complex, but I did get a lot of insight into Congo from it.
- Ethiopia: Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
- Ghana: The Prophet of Zongo Street by Muhammed Naseehu Ali – short stories set in a fictional community, but the author writes from a Ghanaian lens.
- Mauritius: The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah
- Nigeria: Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta – set shortly after the Biafran War, and focussing on the experience of a young lesbian woman, this book is marvellous.
- Nigeria: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – fantasy and magic. Adeyemi talks about BLM in her notes at the end, and it is so appropriate. I have all the love for this book.
- Somalia: A Man of Good Hope by Jonny Steinberg – well-researched non-fiction
- South Africa: Coconut by Kopano Matlwa
- South Africa: Not A Fairytale by Shaida Kazie Ali
- Sudan: The Milk of Birds by Sylvia Whitman
- Zimbabwe: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
- Various: 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa by Stephanie Nolen – NOT to suggest that AIDS is synonymous with Africa at all, I value this book in our narrative because it highlights so much positivity and hope throughout the continent. Unfortunately this book is out of print.
- Various: Queer Africa 2 by Karen Martin et al – I’m still working my way through this anthology, but it is quite wonderful.
My lists of favourite South African books:
- South African Books To Read This Heritage Day
- Ten More South African Books To Devour
- Top Ten Books I would recommend to someone who doesn’t read South African literature
And some thoughts I’ve written before about the continent (some about books, but not all):
- Africa Needs More Books
- What I See In Your Photos With “Poor African Children”
- For Heritage Day: What Traveling Teaches Me About Being African
- Hypothesis: South African Sights for South African Vision – I’m very excited to notice that others share this vision. For example, today Zeits MOCAA (The Museum of Contemporary Art Africa) in Cape Town offered free entry to all, and ran a special program all day. African citizen also get free entry on Wednesdays.
I owe you all a proper new-material post, I know. And I owe quite a few people responses to email. I’ll get on that.