File 11-1-2018, 01 41 02

A friend of mine, an avid reader like myself, asked me to share a list of books by Africans she could read, as someone who had never read any. My initial reaction was to send her a short list of my favourites, but then it dawned on me that I’d probably be leaving out a wide array of books that should perhaps be included.

In true African fashion, before I made a decision I consulted my close peers, the sagacious citizens of Twitter and Facebook, with a simple question:

If you were introducing someone to books by African writers, what would you suggest they read?

Over a few days, the gracious readers on my social media pages responded with a large number of books that I have now compiled into a list for you all. You are most welcome.

Unfortunately, I have not read most of them and cannot give a review, but I have linked them to Goodreads where you can take a look at the blurbs and reviews by others.

Based off one of the replies I got, I have grouped the books into three categories. These groupings are entirely based on my opinion and follow a rudimentary method.

The first are the Traditionalists, your older writers who were first published pre-1985 (the year picked somewhat randomly). The second group contains your Modernists (post-1985). I had wanted to separate them from the Afropolitan writers, but that was going to be tedious. The final category is non-fiction, quite self-explanatory I’d say. In parentheses, I have placed the nationality of the author and grouped the states in descending alphabetical order. The asterisk next to the country means I have read that specific text.

Do let me know what you think of this selection and as it is not exhaustive, please leave any other suggestions you may have in the comments. I think its quite important that we who are from the continent of Africa, as vast and diverse as it is, be responsible for sharing this our cultural dish with the rest of the world.

More than anything I would also like to get recommendations of literature from people from other parts of the world. Books from South America, Asia, The Middle East, The Caribbean, South Pacific and anywhere else where people’s narratives are not mainstream. The world is a massive place, and it is so easy to get caught up in only what you know through experience and what the media feeds us.

Without making this too long, here are the #ReadAfrica Recommendations:

The Traditionalists

“Children of Gebelawi” – Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt)
“Woman at Point Zero” – Nawal el Saadawi (Egypt)
“The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born” – Ayi Kwei Armah (Ghana)
“Two Thousand Seasons” – Ayi Kwei Armah (Ghana)
“Wizard of the Crow” – Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya)*
“A Grain of Wheat” – Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya)
“Devil on the Cross” – Ngugi wa Thiongo (Kenya)
“Matigari” – Ngugi wa Thiongo (Kenya)*
“I Will Marry When I Want” – Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya)
“The Trial of Dedan Kimathi” – Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya)
“The Trial of Christopher Okigbo” – Ali A Mazrui (Kenya)
“Joys of Motherhood” – Buchi Emcheta (Nigeria)
“The Rape of Shavi” – Buchi Emecheta (Nigeria)
“A Man of the People” – Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)
“Things Fall Apart” – Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)*
“No Longer At Ease” – Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)*
“Anthills of the Savannah” – Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)*
“The Lion and the Jewel” – Wole Soyinka (Nigeria)*
“The Palm-Wine Drinkard” – Amos Tutuola (Nigeria)*
“The Imprisonment of Obatala” – Obotunde Ijimere (Nigeria)
“So Long a Letter” – Mariama Ba (Senegal)
“God’s Bits of Wood” – Ousmane Sembène (Senegal)
“When Rain Clouds Gather” – Bessie Head (South Africa/Botswana)*
“Life and Times of Michael K” – JM Coetzee (South Africa)
“Waiting for the Barbarians” – JM Coetzee (South Africa)
“Cry, the Beloved Country” – Alan Paton (South Africa)*
“Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night” – Sindiwe Magona (South Africa)
“The Power of One” – Bryce Courtenay (South Africa)*
“Tandia” – Bryce Courtenay (South Africa)*
“Season of Migration to the North” – Tayeb Salih (Sudan)
“The Colour of Hope” – Taban Lo Liyong (Uganda)
“Coming of the Dry Season” – Charles Mungoshi (Zimbabwe)
“Waiting for the Rain” – Charles Mungoshi (Zimbabwe)
“Harvest of Thorns” – Shimmer Chinodya (Zimbabwe)
“Chairman of Fools” – Shimmer Chinodya (Zimbabwe)
“Dew in the Morning” – Shimmer Chinodya (Zimbabwe)
“Can We Talk and Other Stories” – Shimmer Chinodya (Zimbabwe)
“Strife” – Shimmer Chinodya (Zimbabwe)
“The House of Hunger” – Dambudzo Marechera (Zimbabwe)
“Mindblast” by Dambudzo Marechera (Zimbabwe)
“Umzenzi Kakhalelwa” – Lenah Mazibuko (Zimbabwe)
“Kutonhodzwa kwaChauruka” – David M. Chiguvare (Zimbabwe)

The Modernists

“Changes” – Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana)
“Homegoing” – Yaa Gyasi (Ghana)*
“Ghana Must Go” – Taiye Selasi (Ghana)*
“Dust” – Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya)
“The River and the Source” – Margaret A. Ogola (Kenya)
“Niketche: Uma Historia de Poligamia” – Paulina Chiziane (Mozambique)
“The Purple Violet of Oshaantu” – Neshani Andreas (Namibia)
“Purple Hibiscus” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)*
“Half of a Yellow Sun” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)*
“The Thing Around Your Neck” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)*
“Americanah” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)*
“The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives” – Lola Shoneyin (Nigeria)*
“Stay With Me” – Ayobami Adebayo (Nigeria)*
“I Do Not Come To You By Chance” – Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani (Nigeria)
“Say You’re One of Them” – Uwem Akpan (Nigeria)*
“A Bit of Difference” – Sefi Atta (Nigeria)
“Tomorrow Died Yesterday” – Chimeka Garricks (Nigeria)
“The Fishermen” – Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria)*
“What is Not Yours is Not Yours” – Helen Oyeyemi (Nigeria)
“Who Fears Death” – Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria)*
“On Black Sisters Street” – Chika Unigwe (Nigeria)
“What It Means When A Man Fall From The Sky” – Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria)*
“Happiness is a Four Letter Word”
 – Cynthia Jele (South Africa)
“Ways of Dying” – Zakes Mda (South Africa)
“In the Fog of Season’s End” – Alex La Guma (South Africa)
“Spud” – John van de Ruit (South Africa)*
“Indaba My Children” – Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa (South Africa)
“African Delights” – Siphiwo Mahala (South Africa)*
“Little Suns” by Zakes Mda (South Africa)
“Period Pain” – Kopano Matlwa (South Africa)
“The Kindness of Enemies” – Leila Aboulela (Sudan/Egypt)
“Nervous Conditions” – Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe)*
“She No Longer Weeps” – Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe)
“Harare North” – Brian Chikwava (Zimbabwe)*
“Far From Home” – Na’ima B. Robert (Zimbabwe)*
“The Hairdresser of Harare” – Tendai Huchu (Zimbabwe)*
“An Elegy for Easterly” – Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe)*
“Rotten Row” – Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe)*
“The Book of Memory” – Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe)*
“We Need New Names” – No-Violet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe)*
“House of Stone” – Novuyo Tshuma (Zimbabwe)
“Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter” – Nozipo Maraire (Zimbabwe)*
“The Polygamist” – Sue Nyathi (Zimbabwe)
“Rurimi Inyoka” – Giles Kuimba (Zimbabwe)

Non-Fiction

“Thomas Sankara Speaks” – Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso)
“Neo-colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism” – Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana)
“The Dark Child” – Camara Laye (Guinea)
“Dreams In a Time of War” – Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya)
“Something Torn and New” – Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya)
“Decolonising the Mind” – Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya)*
“One Day I Will Write About This Place” – Binyavanga Wainaina (Kenya)*
The West and the Rest of Us – Chinweizu (Nigeria)
“There Was a Country” – Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)
“In the Shadow of a Saint” – Ken Wiwa (Nigeria)
“We Should All Be Feminists” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)*
“Emerging Africa”
 – Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu (Nigeria)
“God Sleeps in Rwanda” –  Joseph Sebarenzi (Rwanda)*
“A Long Way Gone” – Ishmael Beah (Sierra Leone)
“I Write What I Like” – Steve Biko (South Africa)*
“Africa’s Greatest Entrepreneurs” – Moky Makura (South Africa)
“Nothing Left to Steal” – Mzilikazi Wa Afrika (South Africa)
“Architects of poverty” – Moeletsi Mbeki (South Africa)
“Born A Crime” – Trevor Noah (South Africa)*
“Long Walk To Freedom” – Nelson Mandela (South Africa)*
“Dark Continent My Black Arse”
 – Sihle Khumalo (South Africa)
“Dead Aid” – Dambisa Moyo (Zambia)*
“In Pursuit of Freedom and Justice” – Cephas Msipa (Zimbabwe)*
“In Search Of The Elusive Zimbabwean Dream” – Arthur Mutambara (Zimbabwe)
“Parallel Lines” – Norah Spie (Zimbabwe)*


The asterisk* indicates books which I have read