The best books by African writers in 2019 so far…
From evocative prose to moving memoirs and hilarious satire, we bring you some of Africa’s best reads from the first half of 2019:
Manchester Happened – by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Upon finishing Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s debut novel Kintu, many a reader sat in impatience waiting for news of her next book. Finally, it has arrived and once more, the UK-based Ugandan writer has delivered a masterpiece. This collection of short stories will resonate with those that have left home to seek opportunities abroad, dealt with UK immigration, left behind sunny climes for dark and cold mornings, grappled with the realities of racism. Above all, it will resonate with those who know intimately that the space between “here and back home” is more than just distance.
As Makumbi writes at one point: “Inside we were dying, I threw away all that Uganda had taught me social and culturally and allowed Britain to realign me.”
The Blessed Girl – by Angela Makholwa
Meet 24-year-old Bontle Towe, of exceptional beauty, luscious lips (her own words), two businesses, a penthouse in Johannesburg, a convertible, designer items and a “PhD in Mencology”. In this fast-paced book, Angela Makholwa explores the concept of sugar daddies or “Blessers”. There are many laugh-out-loud moments as Bontle juggles her three sugar daddies alongside her “do-gooder” ex-husband while living the high life. Yet delve deeper and we see she is a troubled character. This is where Makholwa triumphs, for what seems like a fun and frothy read on the surface unveils the sinister realities that are part of the “Blesser” phenomenon.
Thirteen Months of Sunrise – by Rania Mamoun
In this selection of ten short stories, Rania Mamoun powerfully captures landscapes, feelings, touch, taste and even facial expressions; a range of voices and writing styles that centre her Sudanese people. Although her work has been translated from Arabic to English, you get the sense that no emotion or feeling has been lost. Such is the power of her work. The book’s hallmark is its evocative dialogue: “He found in me someone who understood him, and I found in him a window into Ethiopia, and oh how I loved it. The Blue Nile, which passes through Khartoum, originates at Lake Tana in Ethiopia. That’s what makes our bond so strong, I thought: we were nursed from the same source.” As the world witnesses the people of Sudan create history, this is a timely read.
House of Stone – by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
Some of the best writers of our time have hailed from Zimbabwe. Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is another name to add to that list. She has written the story of Zimbabwe, its traumatic past mirroring that of the strange yet fascinating narrator Zamani. Zamani conceived during the Gukurahundi massacres in the 1980s. He fills the space left by the missing son of his landlords and, in so doing, unearths their personal histories. Through these stories the reader is given an insight into Zimbabwe’s past and how things have come to be today. This is a harrowing book. It reminds us of the writer’s role in ensuring history is not erased.
My Sister the Serial Killer – by Onyinkan Braithwaite
The first line of this hugely entertaining book will have you hooked: “Ayoola is beautiful, carefree and exciting, she also has this tendency to… murder her boyfriends.” This is not a crime novel, neither is it a mystery. The real story which forms its centre is the relationship between sisters and the wider family. Set in Lagos, this is a dark, compelling and humorous must-read.
The Old Drift – by Namwali Serpell
To describe The Old Drift by Zambia-born writer Namawali Serpell would require an article in itself. So vast is this epic masterpiece that it is impossible to do it justice in just a few words. It brings together history, drama, fantasy and folklore spanning time, locations and generations. The book begins with the buzz of mosquitoes and then the words: “This is the story of a nation – not a kingdom or a people – so it begins, of course, with a white man.” Starting in pre-colonial Zambia and ending in an imagined, somewhat dystopian future, The Old Drift tells the story of three families while simultaneously unearthing decades of exploitation which began with colonialism and has continued ever since. Very rarely do novels like this come around. Over 560 pages of pure pleasure.
Transparent City – by Ondjaki
One of the few Angolan novels to be translated into English, Transparent City is set in an apartment block in Luanda, home to an array of characters, all navigating the realities of being part of Angola’s “underclass”. Central to the story is one man’s search for his son. As he wanders in the hope of locating him, he also grapples with how much his beloved Luanda has changed.
The Dragonfly Sea – by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s debut novel Dust took the literary world by storm. Now her second promises same. In this book, Owuor explores the history of China-Africa relations which developed through voyages to lands around the Indian Ocean. Munira and her daughter Ayanna live on Pate, an island off the coast of Kenya. Ayanna is a free spirit, elements of her almost celestial, particularly when she finds herself at one with the sea. This is as much a story about Ayanna’s journey as it is about the challenges facing the world today. Anyone familiar with Kenya will appreciate the references made to the “War on Terror” and the impact it has on certain communities. Threaded throughout the book are multiple languages, a mix of cultures, characters of great depth and themes ranging from the spiritual to the political and beyond.
Travellers – by Helon Habila
Barely a day goes by without headlines and media reports about refugees and the “migrant crisis”. Much of the coverage has dehumanised the people given these labels. They are a problem to be solved, or simply a statistic. Thus award-winning writer Helon Habila’s latest novel is pertinent right now. His nameless Nigerian narrator has moved to Berlin with his American wife. This was to be a “break from our breaking-apart life”. In Berlin, his path crosses with fellow Africans: Mark, a film student from Malawi; Karim, the man on the train, who had no choice but to leave Somalia in order to save his daughter from being forced into marriage; Manu, a Libyan surgeon, waiting for his wife and daughter to arrive, hoping they haven’t been lost in the perilous journey across the sea. In Travellers, Helon Habila has outdone himself, giving his characters the dignity which the media often fails to.
German Calendar, No December – by Sylvia Ofili
This coming-of-age tale charts the journey of Olivia, a ten-year old German-Nigerian. She moves from the town of Warri to boarding school in Lagos to university in Germany. Along the way, she grapples with race, identity and the continuous search for belonging. With illustrations by Birgit Wehye, this is a delightful book, leaving one eager to know if there will be more of the same.
Be(com)ing Nigerian – by Elnathan John
Anyone familiar with Elnathan John’s work will know he is the king of satire. If you were expecting an entertaining, provocative and engrossing read, then you are in for a treat. Be(com)ing Nigerian provides an insight into the realities of life in Nigerian politics, religion, civil society, diaspora, the media. No one is spared when it comes to John’s cheeky digs.
A Strangers Pose – by Emmanuel Iduma
A travelogue, a journey, a memoir, a piece of art. Conversations with strangers, images taken by some of the greatest photographers on the continent and elegant lyricism all form part of this beautiful book. Forever in the background are the realities of crossing the borders created by the colonialists and navigating the spaces, cultures and languages which span the continent. This is a travelogue, without the colonial gaze.
The Wife’s Tale – by Aida Edemariam
Many writers have chosen to tell the stories of their ancestors, both as a way of preserving history and providing readers with a perspective which would otherwise remain unknown. The subject of journalist Aida Edemariam’s book is her grandmother Yetemegnu, born in Gondar, Ethiopia in the 1920s. At the age of eight, Yetemegnu is married off to a man 20 years older than her and thus begins her turbulent journey into womanhood. Alongside her personal trials and tribulations, we see an ever-changing Ethiopia, a country with a fascinating history which still forms part of the state fabric today. Yet it is Yetemegnu’s life which remains the firm focus of this book and rightly so. Aida Edemariam has gifted the world a priceless insight into history through her grandmother’s eyes.
New Daughters of Africa – edited by Margaret Busby
It has been a long time since a book created the kind of buzz and excitement which has surrounded New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent. 25 years since her revolutionary first anthology, Daughters of Africa, Margaret Busby’s latest volume is a collection of stories, essays, speeches, poetry and memoirs by over 200 renowned women writers. Busby has described the array of contributors as “an amazing party guest list”. With the likes of Warsan Shire, Nawal El Saadawi, Diane Abbot, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie and Maaza Mengiste, one can see why. Reserve a special place for this one on your bookshelf, it’s a must-have.
Still to come in 2019…
The rest of 2019 promises even more literary gems. Kenyan writer Billy Kahora’s The Cape Cod Bicycle Wars has just hit the shelves. Set during Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia, The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste is out in September. Nudibranch, the long awaited collection of short stories by Irenosen Okojie is expected in November. Bassey Ikpi’s much awaited collection of essays “I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying’”is expected in August, as is When the Plums are Ripe by Cameroonian author Patrice Nganang and A Particular Kind of Black Man by Tope Folarin.
Please where in Ghana can I get copies of the lovely novels?
Are any of these books available in Zambia?
As a novelist from Zambia how do I submit a copy of my novel so that it can be amongst your list.
Aloha! Interesting material! I’m really appreciate it. It will be great if you’ll read my first article on essayscambusters)
best australian online pharmacy pharmacy delivery pharmacies online online pharmacy pain meds ’
Itís nearly impossible to find well-informed people about this topic, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks
You have made some good points there. I checked on the internet for additional information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.
Good post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon every day. It’s always helpful to read through content from other writers and use something from other web sites.
Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It’s always useful to read through content from other writers and use something from other web sites.
Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful article. Thank you for supplying these details.
tapering off lexapro escitalopram generic how to lose weight on lexapro antidepressant lexapro ’
stopping omeprazole omeprazole 20 mg tablets dexilant vs omeprazole omeprazole over the counter dose ’
Hi. Awesome! I’m really enjoy this. It will be great if you’ll read my first article on Programming Insider!)
F*ckin’ amazing issues here. I’m very satisfied to peer your post. Thank you so much and i’m looking forward to touch you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?
I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is needed to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100 positive. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Appreciate it
I really like it when individuals get together and share thoughts. Great site, stick with it!
clorquine https://chloroquineorigin.com/# hydroxychloroquine sulfate 200 mg tab
Spot on with this write-up, I seriously think this web site needs far more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the advice!
Having read this I believed it was extremely informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!
Itís hard to come by well-informed people for this subject, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks
bookmarked!!, I love your website!
I must thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this website. I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade content by you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own, personal blog now 😉
I could not refrain from commenting. Very well written!
This blog was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Thanks a lot!
Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!
Howdy! I could have sworn Iíve been to this website before but after browsing through some of the posts I realized itís new to me. Anyways, Iím definitely happy I stumbled upon it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!
I’ve been exploring for a little for any high-quality articles or weblog posts in this kind of space . Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this web site. Studying this information So i’m satisfied to express that I’ve a very excellent uncanny feeling I found out just what I needed. I so much certainly will make certain to don’t disregard this web site and provides it a glance regularly.
Hi, There’s no doubt that your website might be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it’s got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, great blog!
Hi there, There’s no doubt that your website could be having web browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in Internet Explorer, it’s got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Apart from that, great site!
We’re a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your web site offered us with valuable info to work on. You have done an impressive job and our entire community will be thankful to you.
I could not refrain from commenting. Perfectly written!
you’re in point of fact a good webmaster. The website loading velocity is amazing. It kind of feels that you are doing any unique trick. Furthermore, The contents are masterwork. you’ve done a great process on this topic!
Good info. Lucky me I recently found your blog by accident (stumbleupon). I have saved as a favorite for later!
Hey!. Such a nice post! I’m really appreciate it. It will be great if you’ll read my first article on mycollegeessaywriter.com)
Spot on with this write-up, I honestly feel this web site needs a great deal more attention. Iíll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the advice!
Itís hard to come by experienced people in this particular topic, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks
Saved as a favorite, I like your site!
Very good information. Lucky me I found your site by chance (stumbleupon). I have book-marked it for later!
I was able to find good information from your blog articles.
After exploring a number of the articles on your website, I seriously appreciate your technique of blogging. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my website too and tell me what you think.
Hello there! I just would like to offer you a big thumbs up for your excellent info you’ve got right here on this post. I am returning to your website for more soon.
Having read this I believed it was rather enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this content together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!
Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Spending some time and actual effort to create a very good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I procrastinate a lot and don’t seem to get nearly anything done.
This is the perfect web site for everyone who wants to understand this topic. You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really will need toÖHaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic which has been discussed for decades. Great stuff, just great!
This is a topic that is close to my heart… Cheers! Exactly where are your contact details though?
Having read this I believed it was rather enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this information together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!
Hey!. Interesting post! I’m really enjoy this. It will be great if you’ll read my first article on mycollegeessaywriter.com)
Nice bro thank you.
This website truly has all the information I wanted about this subject and didnít know who to ask.
Very nice article. I absolutely appreciate this website. Continue the good work!
Hello, I do believe your website could possibly be having web browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in I.E., it’s got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, excellent site!
bookmarked!!, I really like your blog!
I absolutely love your blog.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself? Please reply back as Iím trying to create my own personal blog and would like to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Cheers!
This is the perfect website for everyone who really wants to find out about this topic. You know so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually would want toÖHaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a subject that’s been discussed for decades. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!
cialis online buy cialis online
Having read this I thought it was really enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!
This is a topic that is close to my heart… Many thanks! Where are your contact details though?
Hello there! I could have sworn Iíve visited this website before but after browsing through a few of the posts I realized itís new to me. Regardless, Iím definitely pleased I stumbled upon it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!
Excellent post. I’m facing a few of these issues as well..
Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the issues. It was really informative. Your site is very useful. Many thanks for sharing!
Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to generate a very good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I hesitate a lot and don’t manage to get anything done.
This is a topic that is near to my heart… Many thanks! Exactly where are your contact details though?
I was able to find good info from your articles.
I quite like looking through an article that can make people think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!
I was searching, I SaW YoUr Blog, I ReAd YouR Blog, You Surprised Me. This is the Day, I HaVe learned a Good Thing by ReaDinG!