After finishing my first book (The Tapestries…really good, by the way) from my Asian list last night, I thought I needed to continue on with my book list and add books of African settings to my list. Thinking back, I can only think of one book I’ve read that took place in Africa: Monique and the Mango Rains. It just happens to be one of the best books I’ve ever read – I laughed, cried, and learned so much about Mali. Written by Kris Holloway, she recounts her Peace Corps experience in Mali working with a local midwife named Monique. I actually met Kris at a conference in February, but unfortunately my copy is in a storage unit in South Carolina so I couldn’t have her sign it (Boo!), but Kris was great!
In addition to Monique and the Mango Rains, here’s what I’ve found that I’ve added to my list:
- Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah (2011) So this book doesn’t actually take place in Africa, but does depict the story of Elam, a boy from Ethiopia who becomes a refugee in London. Alone in a strange place, Elam has to deal with social services, the Refugee Council, and the transitions of a refugee completely by himself. With my hopes to volunteer with the refugee community in Oklahoma, I thought this would be a good one. (Available on Kindle for $3.32)
- Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou and Helen Stevenson (2010) Centered in a run-down bar in the Congo, a bar regular nicknamed Broken Glass is chosen to record the stories of all patrons. However, everyone wants to rewrite history and buff up their stories along the way. According to the review, Broken Glass speaks regularly of the great books of Africa, which may just be beneficial as I add to my reading list. (Available on Kindle for $9.99)
- The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah (2011) Set on the island of Mauritius in 1944, the novel tells of an unknown aspect of World War II through the journey of two young boys. Since I had no idea that WWII refugees went to Africa, nor exactly where Mauritius is located, I thought this might be beneficial for my African education. (Available on Kindle for $9.99)
- The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz (2008) One of the most read Egyptian authors turns his writing to the stories of Ancient Egypt – love, war, and the pharaohs. With my love of Egyptian artifacts, I think I’ll definitely enjoy these three. (Available on Kindle as a bundle for $14.99)
In my opinion, the first absolute must-read Africa setting book is Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. No author has written a book that so best explains the African experience and how change over the last century have impacted the continent at a personal level. It’s a classic. One book I also remember thoroughly enjoying is Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller, non-fiction about a young African white girl growing up in Rhodesia. Here’s a good review: http://contemporarylit.about.com/od/memoir/fr/dogsTonight.htm
These sound wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m compiling a master list and will definitely post these as well.
Hey! I was also going to say “Things Fall Apart”. Its a classic. Alex Fuller was my school principal’s daughter, so, that’s also a must and then there is this dlightful series called “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith…
“Meet Mma Ramotswe, proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, and follow her adventures as she navigates the cases of her clients and the complexities of her personal life with charm, wisdom, and a healthy dose of humor. One of the best, most charming, honest, hilarious and life-affirming books to appear in years.”
http://www.randomhouse.com/features/mccallsmith/main.php Proving that not all books set in Africa have to be depressing!
Thanks, Bee! I should have asked you in the first place! These are great additions. I’m compiling a full list and plan to post them all when it’s done. Cheers!
oh! and I just remembered. My all time favourite book is Cry the Beloved Country. It’s pretty depressing though. Otherwise, there’s “Zoo City” by Lauren Beukes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoo_City)I haven’t read it yet, but its been really big here in Cape Town. It sounds a liiiiiiiitle bit crazy, but, hey…. worth a holiday read I think. But I really loved your list… made me think I should get my hands on those books too and get reading.