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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Africa book list

Reya has been asking about books to read that give you a feel for living in Africa. So here is a quick list of recent reads that I enjoyed. I have skipped all the classics, and I am sure many newer ones that I have forgotten, and have also omitted any that I havent personally read yet. If anyone has any more suggestions please feel free to add.


Don’t Lets Go To The Dogs Tonight by Alexander Fuller (loved it; Zimbabwe times)

Scribbling the Cat by Alexander Fuller (fascinating)

Rules of the Wild by Francesca Marciano (modern life Nairobi - great read)

When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin (tragic tale of Zimbabwe today)

Dark Star Safari by Paul Theraux (great travel writing)

Africa House by Christina Lamb (fascinating history of unique place in Zambia)

The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden (Uganda - Amin regime - did you see the movie?)

Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (missionary family in Congo - wonderful)

Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott (childhood in Botswana - great read)

The No1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith (lovely gentle tales)

15 comments:

Angela said...

Wonderful list, Val. I know many of them, too, and love them. Just one minor correction (not minor for her, haha). It is Alexandra Fuller, she`s a girl. Bobo. Francesca Marciano was great, I agree! And Paul Theroux is an insider, too, who worked as a teacher in - was it Zambia? He is a powerful writer, anyway, with his own clear views.
And the Africa House is now being re-awakened, isn`t it? Peculiar story!
There are only three which I do not know, but Marina will give me Twenty Chickens for a Saddle for Christmas, and I`m looking forward to it! I think Waris Dirie belongs in your list, too, but you said you haven`t read her. Pick any one, Reya, and you`ll learn more about Africa!

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Ooh, this looks like a great list Val, aside from a couple, I don't know any of them and will definitely put them on my wishlist!
I should, as a form of "duty", punt a friend of mine's book - The Extraordinary Khotso: millionaire medicine man of Lusikisiki - I've not yet read it, but it deals with many Southern African myths and legends and the personal stories of local people as they interact with or have had dealings with creatures from the otherworld.

As for movies, Sometimes in April about the Rwandan genocide is incredibly poignant and heartbreaking - it never seems to get as much press as Hotel Rwanda.

Oh, and I mustn't forget Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart - but perhaps that falls under the classics label.

Funny, when you stop to think about it, you realise how very many books there are out there.

tam said...

Val that's pretty much the list I had in my head too. Except don't forget Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga - an absolute classic. And the two books by Chimamanda Angozi Adiche are both so good (Nigeria, but still, lots of very evocative similiarities). I'd start with Purple Hibiscus. Half a Yellow Sun is harrowing but beyond brilliant. That should make it a slightly less mzungu list :)

tam said...

and I thought Scribbling the Cat was a complete cop-out at the end but don't tell Bobo I said so.

Tessa said...

Great list, Val! Being an Africa fanatic, I've read them all and each has it's very own voice. Fascinating.

Here are a couple of novels based on life in Africa - more specifically South Africa....

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

Frankie and Stankie by Barbara Trapido

White Lightning by Justin Cartwright

An Instant in The Wind by Andre Brink.

All beautifully written and very evocative, I think.

Others I can think of off the top of my head are these:

Tick Bite Fever by David Bennun (laugh-out-loud funny!)

My Traitor’s Heart by Rian Malan
(cry-out-loud sad!)

Oh, and Paul Theroux's My Secret History - couched as a novel, but in reality is probably a memoir. (He taught at Makarere University in Uganda)

Angela said...

And - I know this is an old one, but if Reya wants to know some family history of the "girls", read "Return to the Wild" by Norman Carr, their grandfather. Incredible photos of him with the two lions he brought up, and the story to it. Thanks for the other suggestions, too. To you they might be classics, but not to us from far away!

karen said...

Hi! I cant resist anything that mentions books!! I know exactly what Vanilla mans.. the more that you think about it, the more you realise the amazing number of books out there, so much to read, so little time...

Here are few of my favourite African books which just came to mind right now:

Cry of the Kalahari - Mark & Delia Owen

Born Free - Joy Adamson

I Dreamed of Africa - Kuki Gallman

Thunder Behind her ears - Biography of Bessie Head

A Marriage of Inconvenience (can't remember the author- about Seretse and Ruth Khama)

Malaria Dreams - Stuart Stevens

Some Fiction: Maru - by Bessie Head

Petals of Blood by Chinua Achebe (maybe take a prozac before reading it tho)

I can probably come up with lots more, but i have to not get carried away here!! :-)

tam said...

And what? No Ben Okri?
Haha, it goes on and on.

I keep feeling there's one missing. But that's yours Val. Come on, hurry!

Lori ann said...

Ooooh Great great more books to know about!And on Africa! thanks Reya for bringing this up and thank you Val for starting it! I agree, so many to mention and I love your list, I have most. A book recommended to me before my first visit to this great continent was Shadows of Africa ~ Peter Matthiessen and Mary Frank also, Africa, A Biography of a Continent ~ John Reader. And then for great fiction I love the vintage Wilbur Smith books..When the Lion Feeds, The Leopard hunts in darkness. Oh and Longing For Darkness by Peter Beard is a beautiful book, yes, so many to choose from.
xx

Val said...

brilliant! thanks everyone - keep them coming. loads here for my future reading too xx

Val said...

oops sorry Geli a typo! so much talent in this crazy continent! love it... read on xx

Val said...

Tam - cant remember the end of Scribbling the Cat - thought it was a brave journey and enjoyed it. a topic not too savoury or politically correct but well done.

Catharine Withenay said...

I saw your heading and thought: Africa House, Alexandra Fuller and Half a Yellow Sun - all books I have loved, each in different ways. Also found Michela Wrong's In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz a fascinating account of Mobutu in the DRC.

Thanks for extending my reading list!

Reya Mellicker said...

Thank you! Wow. I feel rich. It's always great to have a stack of books waiting in line to be read.

I did see The Last King of Scotland - what a powerful film.

Tam has also offered a couple of suggestions. This is GREAT, thank you so much!

Reya Mellicker said...

Angela - YES family history of the mighty women YES YES YES. That's first in line.