Do you often find yourself asking, "What should I read next?" Well, how about digging into a tale of survival or finding love in a foreign land? Or maybe a crime novel set in some far away city?
This winter—this year—wherever you are, embark on a journey around the globe without ever leaving home. Make it a project to read one book from Africa, the Americas, Asia/Middle East, the Caribbean, Europe, and the South Pacific.
In this series the host of SBC Portland Maine takes us on a literary journey around the world.
There is an old African proverb: “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.”
Fortunately, two of the greatest libraries in the world are still standing in Africa—the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Egypt) and the Ahmed Baba Centre for Documentation and Research (Mali)—and African literature is in high demand all over the world.
My personal favorites by African authors are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and Peter Godwin’s Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa. Both of those books spoke strongly to me, but you'll find a wealth of literature from countries across the African continent in this list below. Many of the titles mentioned below were reviewed on Ann Morgan's terrific blog, A Year of Reading the World. I highly recommend it.
Books bridge distances. I hope you enjoy the journey.
— Sharon K.
Leïla Marouane The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris / Anouar Benmalek Lovers of Algeria / Assia Djebar Far From Medina / Boualem Sansal The German Mujahid or 2084: The End of the World; The German Mujahid / Al-Tahir Wattar The Earthquake / Anouar Benmalek The Lovers of Algeria / Yasmina Khadra The Attack or The Swallows of Kabul
José Eduardo Agualusa A General Theory of Oblivion; Creole / Pepetela The Return of the Water Spirit / Ondjaki Good Morning Comrades or The Whistler / Jose Eduardo Agualusa The Book of Chameleons
Bessie Head A Question of Power or When Rain Clouds Gather
Marie-Therese Toyi Weep Not, Refugee / Roland Rugero Baho!
Mongo Beti La Pauvre Christ de Bomba (The Poor Christ of Bomba) / Beatrice Fri Bime Mystique: a collection of lake myths
Pierre Makombo Bamboté Dada’s Travels from Ouadda to Bangui
Emmanuel Dongala Johnny Mad Dog or Little Boys Come from the Stars / Alain Mabanckou Broken Glass or Memoirs of a Porcupine
Ahdaf Soueif The Map of Love / Sonallah Ibrahim Zaat / Mohamed Mansi Qandil Moon Over Samarqand / Waguih Ghali Beer in the Snooker Club / Naguib Mahfouz The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Place of Desire, Sugar Street / Alaa Al Aswany The Yacoubian Building / Nawal El Saadawi Woman at Point Zero / Youssef Ziedan Azazil / Ibrahim Abdel Meguid No One Sleeps in Alexandria or The House of Jasmine / Andree Chedid From Sleep Unbound
Maaza Mengiste Beneath the Lion’s Gaze / Dinaw Mengestu All Our Names or Children of the Revolution / Abraham Verghese Cutting for Stone
Ayi Kwei Armah The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born / Taiye Selasi Ghana Must Go / Yaa Gyasi Homegoing / Kwei Quarley Wife of the Gods
Ayaan Hisri Ali Infidel (*author born in Somalia) / Binyavanga Wainaina One Day I Will Write About This Place / Philo Ikonya Kenya, Will You Marry Me? / Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor Dust
Hisham Matar In the Country of Man or The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between / Ibrahim Al-Khoni The Bleeding of the Stone or The Puppet
Tahar Ben Jelloun The Sacred Night or The Sand Child / Bensalem Himmich The Polymath / Mohammed Achaari The Arch and the Butterfly / Fatima Mernissi Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood / Muhammad Shukri For Bread Alone
Joseph Diescho Born of the Sun / Neshani Andreas The Purple Violet of Oshaantu
Wole Soyinka The Lion and the Jewel or Death and the King’s Horseman / Lola Shoneyin The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives / Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Americanah or Half of a Yellow Sun / Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart or Arrow of God / Chika Unigwe On Black Sisters Street / Helon Habila Oil on Water / Buchi Emecheta The Joys of Motherhood / Okey Ndibe Never Look An American in the Eye or Foreign Gods, Inc.
Kgebetli Moele The Book of the Dead / Siphiwo Mahala African Delights / Henrietta Rose-Innes Nineveh / Nelson Mandela The Long Walk to Freedom / Alan Paton Cry, the Beloved Country / Bryce Courtenay The Power of One / Dalene Matthee Fiela’s Child; Circles in the Forest / Donald Woods Biko / Damon Galgut The Good Doctor / Trevor Noah Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood / Niq Mhlongo Dog Eat Dog or After Tears / Yewande Omotoso The Woman Next Door / Imraan Coovadia Tales of the Metric System / K. Sello Duiker Thirteen Cents
Abdulrazak Gurnah Desertion or Paradise / Ismael Mbise Blood on Our Land
Okot p’Bitek Song of Lawino / Moses Isegawa Abyssinian Chronicles or Snakepit / Doreen Baingan Tropical Fish: Tales From Entebbe / Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi Kintu / Timothy Wangusa Upon This Mountain / Goretti Kyomuhendo Waiting: A Novel of Uganda’s Hidden Past or Secrets No More
Petinah Gappah An Elegy for Easterly or The Book of Memory / Tsitsi Dangarembga Nervous Conditions / Brian Chikwava Harare North / Tendai Huchu The Hairdresser of Harare or The Maestro, the Magistrate and the Mathematician / Shimmer Chinodya Harvest of Thorns / Christopher Mlalazi They are Coming or Running with Mother / Alexander McCall Smith / Alexandra Fuller Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood / Peter Godwin Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa / NoViolet Bulawayo We Need New Names
Illustration by KateMacate / Shutterstock
About the author: Sharon K. is a neo-homesteader learning the ins and outs of country living by luck and pluck and a lot of expert advice. She is the host of the Portland, Maine chapter of Silent Book Club. You can follow her on Instagram here.