African Fiction

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African Fiction
sep 9, 2006, 12:58 pm

Any current African fiction of note? Where are you finding it? Here in the midwest, I typically have to use online sources. The last African fiction I purchased was _Tropical Fish_ but I haven't read it yet.

sep 12, 2006, 4:13 pm

sep 26, 2006, 1:04 am

Agreed, Notes From the Hyena's Belly! I really enjoyed that one. Another that seems popular though I have not read it yet here is Wizard of the Crow.

4jomango Første besked:
dec 27, 2006, 11:14 am

Try Sleepwalking Land by Mia Coulto - compelling tale set in war-torn Mozambique.

Redigeret: mar 10, 2007, 12:29 am

I enjoyed mating by norman rush, the constant gardener by john le carre, out of africa by isak dinesen , mine boy by peter abrahams, the plays of athol fugard and most recently under the yellow sunand purple hibiscus by adichie.also, disgrace by coetzee and the novels of nadine gordimer. Africa is the setting or the subject of these books although the authors are not all african themselves.

apr 21, 2007, 11:38 am

Both of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's books are amazing (Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus). I recently read Beasts of No Nation which is a disturbing look at a boy soldier in an unnamed African country. It is written from the POV of the boy soldier and the language is unusual. For such a short book, it packs a huge punch.

**touchstones are not loading today**

jun 2, 2007, 8:38 pm

I just recently read Half of a Yellow Sun and it is indeed a quite powerful book.

My favorite african novel not written by an african writer still remains the poisonwood bible

Redigeret: jun 8, 2007, 9:54 pm

I particularly liked Christopher Obani's Graceland. I lived in Nigeria for six months and the book seemed especially evocative to me. A writer I would highly recommend is Nureedin Farah. I have read most of his novels. I liked all of them.

9Nzingha Første besked:
jun 9, 2007, 11:55 pm

I haven't read many books by African authors but here are a few: No Longer at Ease,Things fall apart by Chinua Achebe,Bessie head , Peter Abrahams : Wild Conquest,This Island, Now, Tell Freedom, & Mine Boy, Wole Soyinka: the Interpreters, Ake',Buchi Emecheta, "The Joys of Motherhood,The Bride Price,Second Class Citizen,The Family, & The Slave Girl. These are books I purchased quite a time ago. I have a few other authors like Camara Laye, Yambo Ouologuen which I haven't read, why I don't know.
I have traveled to Africa several times and hope to go back. I've been to Egypt,Sudan,Ethiopia,Ghana,Senegal,Ivory Coast,Zambia,Zimbabwe & South Africa.
More later.

jun 20, 2007, 6:38 pm

Half of a Yellow Sun is just terrific! If you are old enough, it will conjure up those images we saw of starving children in Biafra. I definitely need to add this book to my personal library. (I have recently input some of my African books, but I have a lot more to add, and I also have some in storage, which will lag even longer.)

11mdblibrary Første besked:
aug 8, 2007, 8:16 pm

I occasionally find books on bookmooch ( - Its great because you can get them for free if you sign up and give away your old books! I usually get about 2 books for every one I give away because of the way they do points, and it interfaces with librarything.

aug 13, 2007, 5:23 pm

I actually find it very hard to

give any of my books away.


sep 21, 2007, 4:55 pm

Navigation of a Rainmaker (La navigation du faiseur de pluie) by Jamal Mahjoub was a pretty amazing book. I also really enjoyed Arrow of God and Things Fall Apart. (Chinua Achebe is an old African Fiction standby.) If you're up for something unusual, I highly reccommend The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola. Changes by Ama Ata Aidoo was also a great read.

okt 23, 2007, 11:08 pm

I just finished "Purple Hibiscus by chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and enjoyed it very much. I've started Half a Yellow Sun. I'm surprised at the quality of writing from such a young person.

nov 7, 2007, 9:46 am

I just finished Half a yellow sun and I found it excellent. She is some talented writer. I know her next novel I will buy it as soon as its published.


nov 27, 2007, 8:36 am

I just finished Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus, too!

I've been writing about them both on all of my groups! It has been a while since I read a book and finished fufilled, reassured.

I think the next two books I want to read are Graceland and Icarus Girl

dec 5, 2007, 1:36 am

Abyssinian Chronicles: A Novel by Moses Isegawa. He also wrote Snakepit, but I haven't read that yet.

maj 7, 2009, 1:02 pm

Last year I read The wizard of the crow, which actually I would rate in the top tier of best books I've ever read. It uses magical realism and satire with a storytelling narrative of a fictional land (that somewhat resembles Kenya) with a dictator intent on building a modern day Tower of Babel: an office park of super skyscraper proportions, to be built with monies from the West. In the midst of this, a shaman, the Wizard of the Crow, arrives to help the sick, guide the nation, and save his own skin while maneuvering around the wheeling and deeling scheming advisors to the dictator. A really great read, highly recommended.

okt 6, 2009, 3:57 pm

petina gappah An Elegy for Easterly is an excellent collection of short stories (which I don't usually like to read). It gives a low key, unromanticized but at times excruciating look at daily life in Zimbabwe now. Nothing else quite like it that I've seen. Brian Chikwava's Harare North is one I've just started - about Zimbabwean refugee life in London (aka Harare North)I could also be shameless and suggest my own book we are all zimbabweans now

okt 6, 2009, 4:35 pm

Thanks very much, James, all three look interesting and I'm adding them to my wishlist.

okt 23, 2009, 10:12 am

There is a new one out! Egg-Larva-Pupa-Woman by Ogo Akubue-Ogbata
aug 5, 2010, 10:17 am

I liked The Tethered Goat. A novel about Ethiopia set in the time of Mengistu's dictatorship

nov 20, 2010, 7:11 am

'Not a particularly current title, but I am reading Cry, the Beloved Country.

nov 20, 2010, 1:20 pm

23: I read Cry the Beloved Country a long time ago and really liked it. I just picked up Alan Paton's Too Late the Phalarope, which has been on my shelves forever. It's very dark, and not as poetical as Cry the Beloved Country. So far, it's an interesting look at several generations of a Afrikaans family.

jan 6, 2011, 10:12 pm

A Far off Place sits on my TBR shelf. Has anyone read it?

dec 11, 2011, 10:24 pm

I have just finished reading Chain of Spring love (nominated for the Hurston/Wright Literary Award) by Robert Bwire. It is a tongue-in-cheek story of an illegal African immigrant in the Netherlands who falls in love with an older, sophisticated Dutch lady of means, and unfolds against a backdrop of conflicting loyalties.

mar 16, 2012, 5:56 am

Great. I see that you read books I intend to read, but unfortunately they are not available in my country. could you suggest any sites to me, please?

mar 25, 2012, 11:01 am

I don't know if you like a science fiction/speculative futures books, but Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor is a really nice book that came out in 2010. Okorafor is of Nigerian descent, living in Chicago I believe, and it's set in post-apocalyptic sub saharan Africa so there's its "Africa" pedigree.
The book's a magical realist coming of age story about a young woman who is in no way a delicate flower despite a central romance subplot. The protagonist has power that scares everyone around her, but still compels her friends to help her on a world-healing quest that is fated to end in their deaths. It sounds like mush, but it rings true for any straight woman who ever needed a man to take a backseat and support her calling. There is hope for heteros in this world.

jun 29, 2012, 9:24 am

My wife just read Who Fears Death and really liked it, so I've put it on my audible queue as well.

jun 2, 2016, 3:45 am

jan 11, 2017, 1:25 pm

Denne meddelelse har fået flere brugere til at hejse et advarselsflag, så den vises ikke længere (vis)
Rwandese Flowers, by Adelson Costa. A good book.

jun 12, 2021, 2:58 pm

Let's revive this group!

The Palm Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola

This month I read an odd novella in which the setting was Nigeria. I'm not sure what genre it would be, but I'm guessing a folktale, with maybe some fantasy elements (?) The never named narrator tells this story first person as the son of a rich man who loses his tapster and hence his friends. He goes in search of the tapster in various parts of the bush that is inhabited by all sorts of inhuman creatures. Not my cup of tea! 125 pages 3 stars

jul 3, 2021, 4:08 pm

I'm in! I'll post several reviews soon...

Redigeret: jul 5, 2021, 7:34 pm


Book #28: The Last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo by Germano Almeida


My rating:

The recently deceased Napumoceno da Silva Araújo was widely regarded as a pillar of the business community in the port city of Mindelo on the island of São Vicente, as he was perceived to be a self made man who emigrated to the city from the nearby island of São Nicolau as a poor orphaned boy with a few escudos to his name, but died a wealthy man who owned one of the largest and most successful trading companies in Cabo Verde. He was known to be a modest lifelong bachelor with no love interests who generously donated to the poorer residents of São Vicente, was free from corruption or excessive ambition, and kept mainly to himself, with few friends or visitors to his hilltop home.

In keeping with the law his last will and testament, numbering 387 pages, was read in the presence of a notary and witnesses who knew Senhor da Silva Araújo, including two acquaintances and his nephew Carlos, a driven and unscrupulous young man who stood to inherit everything as the only surviving relative, even though he openly mocked and privately despised his aged uncle. To everyone's surprise, Araújo left nearly all of his wealth to a young woman, Maria de Graça, whom he named as his daughter, and Carlos was only given a small piece of property.

As the testament is read the details of Araújo's secret life are slowly revealed, including Maria de Graça's conception, his other trysts, and the true love of his life, Adélia, who is known to no one. Maria de Graça takes it upon herself to find out who Adélia is, and to learn more about her father, who she believed to be only a godfather until his death.

The Last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo is set around the time of Cabo Verde's independence from Portugal in 1975, and it provides an interesting view of life in Cabo Verde, on the island of São Vicente, and in the port city of Mindelo, which grew rapidly due to the influx of immigrants from other Cabo Verdean islands due to famine in the 1940s and 1950s, and was unique in terms of its ethnic diversity and lack of established hierarchy and political structure.

Germano Almeida (1945-) is one of Cabo Verde's most celebrated authors, who was awarded the Camões Prize in 2018, the most prestigious literary award in the Lusophone world, which is given annually to an author of an outstanding oeuvre of work written in Portuguese. He received a law degree from the University of Lisbon, and he continues to write prolifically and practice law in Mindelo. The Last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo was chosen as one of Africa's best 100 books of the 20th century during the 2002 Zimbabwe Book Fair, the only book by a Cabo Verdean author on that list.

jul 9, 2021, 12:26 pm


The Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto


My rating:

Family, school, other people, they all elect some spark of promise in us, some area in which we may shine. Some are born to sing, others to dance, others are born merely to be someone else. I was born to keep quiet. My only vocation is silence. It was my father who explained this to me: I have an inclination to remain speechless, a talent for perfecting silences.

I was eleven years old when I saw a woman for the first time, and I was seized by such sudden surprise that I burst into tears.

Mwanito is an 11 year old boy whose father, Silvestre Vitalício, has taken him and his older brother Ntunzi to live in Jezoosalem, the ruins of an abandoned game preserve in the countryside of Moçambique after the mysterious and sudden death of his beloved wife. Silvestre's brother in law and friend make a community of five, and the domineering Silvestre insists that Jezoosalem is the last remaining civilized place on Earth. He loves his sons, especially Mwanito, whose gift as a "tuner of silences" helps mitigate Silvestre's tortured mind and most violent instincts, especially towards his rebellious older son, who rejects his father's incredulous claims and beliefs.

Life in Jezoosalem is suddenly transformed by the appearance of Marta, a Portuguese woman who befriends Mwanito and sets Ntunzi's hormones raging, but she is a dire threat to Silvestre and what he has taught his sons. Tension steadily builds in the altered community, and the increasingly unstable Silvestre boldly vows to remove the stranger by force if she does not leave willingly.

The Tuner of Silences is a lyrical, captivating and unforgettable novel filled with damaged souls who struggle to find meaning and happiness in lives permanently altered by the deaths of those they love the most. Mia Couto is one of Africa's most celebrated contemporary writers, and after reading The Tuner of Silences, one of my favorite novels of 2021 to date, it is easy to see why.

jul 10, 2021, 4:02 am

>35 kidzdoc: is lovely, will take that as a BB!

jul 10, 2021, 9:34 am


Good Morning Comrades by Ondjaki, translated from the Portuguese by Stephen Henighan


My rating:

Ndalu, the narrator of this novel, is a schoolboy in Luanda, the capital of Angola, in the spring of 1991, a time in which the country was led by President José Eduardo dos Santos of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), who rode in public in a bulletproof Mercedes surrounded by heavily armed guards, as the country was in civil war against the Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by Jonas Savimbi. The MPLA was supported by Cuba and, to a lesser extent, the Soviet Union, and between 1975 and 1991 400,000 Cubans served as teachers, physicians and soldiers there. UNITA was mainly supported by the United States, especially during President Ronald Reagan's two terms in office, along with the apartheid South African government, as both feared the spread of Marxism to other sub-Saharan countries, including South Africa itself. The MPLA held control of Luanda and the urbanized coastal areas of Angola and were supported by the Mbundu people, whereas UNITA's power was in the north and less populated interior of the country and were favored by the Ovimbundu, Angola's largest ethnic group. Due to the strength of MPLA and the large presence of disciplined Cuban soldiers Luanda at that time was relatively safe especially after 1988, when the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale repelled a South African/UNITA armed invasion, cemented Cuban/MPLA control of the country, and led to the downfall of South African President P.W. Botha. Guerrilla attacks on schools and other establishments was a constant fear, although a questionable reality.

The title of this novel refers to the use of the word comrade to formally address nearly everyone in the MPLA controlled territory; Ndalu's favorite visitor at home is Comrade António, and his primary teachers are Comrade Teacher Maria, the wife of Comrade Teacher Ángel, both from Cuba. Ndalu and his schoolmates are in the last few days of their classes, and are good kids although somewhat rebellious and apt to get into mild trouble, even though they love the school and their teachers, although they find them and other Cubans to be somewhat inscrutable and overly idealistic. Through Ndalu's eyes the reader views the everyday life in Angola in the early 1990s, which is marked with frequent mass rallies, socialist holidays, and speeches at school in opposition to imperialism, Ronald Reagan and apartheid, along with the use of ration cards to purchase goods. Most of Ndalu's classmates and their families are relatively well off in comparison to their Cuban teachers, and they sit alongside each other in an ethnic melting pot of Blacks, mixed race mestiços, and white Cubans and Portuguese.

At the end of the school year the children are saddened to learn that their teachers would soon return to Cuba, leaving their future education in charge of native Angolans. Soon they would learn that a peace agreement between MPLA and UNITA had been reached, and Cuba withdrew its presence from the country. What they could not foresee is that the presidential election held the following year kept President dos Santos and MPLA in power, and led to a vicious resurgence of the Angolan Civil War after Jonas Savimbi and UNITA, who were assured that they would win the election, lost instead.

Good Morning Comrades is a valuable insight into Angola during the end of the Cold War, and what appeared to be the end of the Angolan Civil War, which is mainly drawn from the Ondjaki's own childhood in Luanda. The afterword by the book's translator, Stephen Henighan, provides valuable context to the novel, which is essential for those unfamiliar with the country's history, and his comments bumped my rating of the book from 3½ to 4 stars.

jul 12, 2021, 11:17 pm

>37 kidzdoc: Another BB for me. Actually, my home base is the Category Challenge Group. In 2022, I plan to have an African and an Asian Category in which I hope to read a minimum of 10 books per category.

jul 13, 2021, 7:20 am

>38 Tess_W: Sounds good, Tess!

jul 17, 2021, 5:20 am

The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy (2002) by Paulina Chiziane (1955-), translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw


This superb novel, written by Mozambique's first published female novelist and expertly translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw, is narrated by Rami, a modest southern Mozambican woman who has been faithfully married to a police chief in the capital of Maputo for the past 20 years, but is disturbed by the increasing frequency of Tony's nights spent away from home and his inattention to her. She soon learns that he has taken on another lover, which is not uncommon in this patriarchal society that accepts and celebrates male infidelity, permits polygamy as a cultural norm, and looks the other way when wives are abused and beaten by their husbands, while expecting these women to serve their men the best parts of their homecooked meals while kneeling in servitude and gratitude. Rami encounters her rival, and after a violent argument they become allies. Soon Rami finds out that Tony has taken on three other lovers, none of whom are completely satisfied with their lot. After he refuses to give up his lovers Rami befriends these four women, who come up with a plot to confront Tony as one, and shame him into becoming a respectable provider and lover to all of them. Tony, however, has other ideas.

The First Wife portrays the repressed lives of women in modern Mozambican society while also being easily readable and often lighthearted and humorous, and demonstrates the power of collective action of women in a society that falsely claims that it respects and values them. Despite being nearly 500 pages in length this was a quick and very enjoyable and educational novel, and I hope to read more of Paulina Chiziane's work.

feb 2, 2022, 5:37 pm

Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah


My rating:

The latest novel by last year's winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature is set in the former colony of German East Africa, or Deutsch-Ostafrika, beginning in the immediate aftermath of the Maji Maji Rebellion (1905-07), in which an armed insurrection by local residents against harsh demands and working conditions imposed on them by the colonists was met with brutal and overwhelming force, and the resultant genocide by the Germans cost approximately 300,000 Africans their lives.

Khalifa is a half African, half Indian young man who is hired as a bookkeeper by a cunning and largely unscrupulous merchant in a port city in German East Africa. After he agrees to marry the niece of the merchant, a match which benefitted the merchant but did not bring happiness to Khalifa or his new wife, he meets and befriends a younger man, Ilyas, who enters town with a letter of recommendation by his German overseer. Ilyas was orphaned at a young age and rescued from bondage by his master, who taught him both the language and the customs of the mother country. Once he is settled Ilyas returns to his home village and rescues his beautiful younger sister, Afiya, from the family who has kept her as little more than a house servant. After the two settle in a peaceful existence in town Ilyas suddenly decides to enlist as a soldier in the schutztruppe, the colonial troops which were tasked to crush any rebellious activities or behaviors by the resentful and downtrodden subjects of the Germans. Afiya is left unprotected, but is rescued from a life of abuse and bondage by Khalifa and his wife Asha.

The schutztruppe in German East Africa is used to fight against the askari, Africans of other countries who were often forcibly recruited to engage in war against enemy colonies during the First World War, under inhuman conditions and with heavy loss of life. One survivor of the war is Hamza, who returns to the port city that he escaped from by joining the schutztruppe. He is hired by the son of the merchant who employed Khalifa, and he gradually gets to know, and ultimately fall in love with, Afiya, who remains unmarried and available.

The primary focus of Afterlives is the growing relationship between Afiya and Hamza, and their story is beautifully conveyed by the author, with rich portrayals of the young lovers and the other major characters in the novel. The brutality of colonial rule under the Germans between the end of the Maji Maji Rebellion and the end of World War I is also compelling and evocative, particularly Hamza’s often harsh treatment by his commanding officers. However, the end of the book is quite rushed, underdeveloped and somewhat unconvincing, as if Gurnah wanted to be done with the book. As a result I knocked down my rating of Afterlives by half a star to four stars, but it is still a superb novel and one well worth reading.

jul 13, 3:22 pm

New here. Pocket bio: Retired humanities teacher, residing in Tlaxcala, Mexico, with two dogs and six indoor cats. Passionate about literature, history, philosophy, classical music and opera, jazz, cinema, and similar subjects. Nostalgic guy. Politically centrist. BA in American Studies from Yale; MAs in English and Education from Boston University. Born in northern New Jersey. Have lived and worked in San Francisco, Chicago, northern Nevada, northeast Wisconsin, South Korea.

I’m currently reading Timothy M. Aluko’s One Man One Matchet, a very sharp novel of pre-independence Nigerian village politics. I really like the Heinemann African Writers series, and pick up volumes whenever I can.

jul 24, 11:17 am

^ Aluko purposefully only reveals the year, 1949, well into the book. So there was 11 years yet to go before independence, which I am sure felt like a LONG time in the living of it. The characters in the novel who are most anxious to throw off the British yoke will not be satisfied anytime soon, and that knowledge really affects one’s reading of the second half of the book

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