The Best of African Fiction: A Database
Table of Contents
A celebration of African fiction (fiction by Africans, at home or in the diaspora), this database is constantly being updated. Click photos for Amazon links. If you’d like to suggest a book or books, feel free to leave a comment below!
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- Burkina Faso
- Cabo Verde
- Central African Republic
- Cote D’Ivoire
- Equatorial Guinea
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
Le fils du pauvre
Un village de montagne, Kabylie, début du siècle. C’est là que vivent les Menrad. Ils ne se rendent pas compte qu’ils sont pauvres. Ils sont comme les autres; voilà tout. Mouloud Feraoun raconte, à peine transposée, sa propre histoire. Il était voué à devenir berger, le destin en décidera autrement.
Nedjma is a masterpiece of North African writing. Its intricate plot involves four men in love with the beautiful woman whose name serves as the title of the novel. Nedjma is the central figure of this disorienting novel, but more than the unfortunate wife of a man she does not love, more than the unwilling cause of rivalry among many suitors, Nedjma is the symbol of Algeria. Kateb has crafted a novel that is the saga of the founding ancestors of Algeria through the conquest of Numidia by the Romans, the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, and French colonial conquest. Nedjma is symbolic of the rich and sometimes bloody past of Algeria, of its passions, of its tenderness; it is the epic story of a human quest for freedom and happiness.
Through the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach, Camus explored what he termed “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd.” First published in 1946; now in a new translation by Matthew Ward.
How does a handsome young man who keeps company with poets and dreams of fame and fortune, turn into a brutal killer who massacres women and children? We follow Nafa Walid as he gradually loses control of his destiny and is drawn into Islamic fundamentalism. Wolf Dreams illustrates what happens when disillusion intersects with the persuasive voice of fundamentalism and the chaos of civil war.
A General Theory of Oblivion
On the eve of Angolan independence an agoraphobic woman named Ludo bricks herself into her apartment for 30 years, living off vegetables and the pigeons she lures in with diamonds, burning her furniture and books to stay alive and writing her story on the apartment’s walls.
Almost as if we’re eavesdropping, the history of Angola unfolds through the stories of those she sees from her window. As the country goes through various political upheavals from colony to socialist republic to civil war to peace and capitalism, the world outside seeps into Ludo’s life through snippets on the radio, voices from next door, glimpses of someone peeing on a balcony, or a man fleeing his pursuers.
The Book of Chameleons
The narrator of this novel is a rather charming lizard. He lives on Felix Ventura’s living-room wall, Felix, the lizard’s friend and hero of the story, is a man who sells pasts – if you don’t like yours, he can come up with an new one for you, a new past – full of better memories, with a complete lineage, photos and all.”
Good Morning Comrades
Luanda, Angola, 1990. Ndalu is a normal twelve-year old boy in an extraordinary time and place. Like his friends, he enjoys laughing at his teachers, avoiding homework and telling tall tales. But Ndalu’s teachers are Cuban, his homework assignments include writing essays on the role of the workers and peasants, and the tall tales he and his friends tell are about a criminal gang called Empty Crate which specializes in attacking schools. Ndalu is mystified by the family servant, Comrade Antonio, who thinks that Angola worked better when it was a colony of Portugal, and by his Aunt Dada, who lives in Portugal and doesn’t know what a ration card is. In a charming voice that is completely original, Good Morning Comrades tells the story of a group of friends who create a perfect childhood in a revolutionary socialist country fighting a bitter war. But the world is changing around these children, and like all childhood’s Ndalu’s cannot last.
Ce roman est dominé par un personnage: le docteur Kofi-Marc Tingo, tout d’abord, étudiant en France où déjà sa personnalité hors du commun s’affirme ; puis en Afrique où, avec sa femme blanche, il exerce la médecine. Son savoir, la maîtrise de soi dont il fait preuve, ses pouvoirs sur les êtres trouvent leur source et leur efficacité dans deux traditions. Celle proprement africaine, fondée sur des connaissances d’un autre ordre et sur la pharmacopée africaine; l’autre rationaliste, issue d’Europe. Marc Tingo est la synthèse vivante des approches méthodiques spécifiques de la science occidentale, et ” d’une puissance archaïque, d’une force nègre ” à laquelle il a été initié. Le docteur Tingo reste toutefois un Africain moderne, sa victoire sur le vieux Djessou, dont le nom signifie ” la Mort “, symbolise aussi une Afrique ouverte au progressisme des lumières. Par sa maîtrise des techniques littéraires et de la langue française, l’auteur conduit implacablement le lecteur vers l’idéal d’accomplissement visé par l’étonnant personnage que ce roman propose à notre attention et à notre admiration.
Publié pour la première fois en 1979, L’Initié a complètement été revu, corrigé, remanié, restructuré et redimensionné par l’auteur. Tout en laissant intacts les problèmes fondamentaux: quarante ans d’indépendance n’ont rien changé ; l’Afrique francophone, au lieu de se prendre en main, de s’affirmer par ses idées, actes et réalisations, vit encore à la traîne en acceptant de recevoir des leçons, même de ceux qui n’ont ni l’intelligence, ni les compétences de nombre de ses ressortissants contraints à l’exil.
Les tresseurs de corde
Lorsqu’on est révolutionnaire pur et dur, qu’on occupe un poste important dans l’équipe qui a pris le pouvoir pour conduire au bonheur un pays » sous développé « , selon des principes idéologiques infaillibles, quels événements peuvent du jour au lendemain faire basculer votre destin et vous amener à vous remettre en question ?
C’est à ces interrogations que répond Trabi, le héros du dernier roman de Jean Pliya, Les Tresseurs de corde.
Snares Without End
A novel, also a philosophical tale in which destiny entraps the innocent protagonist and holds him fast. A man’s life is ruined when he is unjustly accused of adultery.
At the turn of the twentieth century, colonial wars were being waged across southern Africa. The Scattering tells the story of Tjipuka, the daughter of a Herero chief, whose life is shattered during the brutal Herero wars. Fed up with the German occupation of their land, the Herero people had staged an uprising that led to extermination orders from a German general: kill every Herero man, and spare neither woman nor child. Having survived the massacre at Ohamakari, Tjipuka flees into the desert with her child. Her husband is presumed dead. From the desolate no-man s-land of the desert to the death camps on Shark Island and the border of Bechuanaland, Tjipuka has to find the courage and the will to survive. Meanwhile, in the Transvaal, 25-year-old Riette is forced into marriage with her brutish neighbor. When he is taken captive and their farm is set ablaze part of the British scorched-earth policy she and his daughters are herded into a concentration camp. The Scattering follows two women s journeys through history as they wrestle with betrayal, loyalty, hope and the struggle to survive.”
Behold the Dreamers
Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.
However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.
When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.
“I am a dog,” the narrator of Patrice Nganang’s novel plainly informs us. As such, he has learned not to expect too much from life. He can, however, observe the life around him―in his case the impoverished but dynamic Cameroon of the early 1990s, a time known as les années de braise (the smoldering years). When he isn’t limited by the length of his master’s leash, the perceptive, even ironic, Mboudjak wanders the streets of Yaounde, a capital city caught in the throes of social and political change. Only partly understanding the words spoken around him (the other dogs are as unreliable as the humans), Mboudjak relates an experience that not only evokes the wildly diverse language of the streets―a heady brew of French, Pidgin English, the indigenous Medumba, and the urban slang Camfranglais―but also reflects the elusiveness of meaning in politically uncertain times. Mboudjak is not alone in his confusion or in his hardship. The blows he receives from humans and the mocking laughter of other dogs are indicative of a larger pattern of abuse that indicts the ruling regime.
Despite its unflinching depiction of a seething, turbulent society, Dog Days is not a somber story; it is propelled by the humor that is Mboudjak’s greatest survival tool, and even by a certain optimism. In the vibrantly chaotic marketplaces, in the bustling energy of Massa Yo’s bar, and in the escalating political demonstrations, a brighter future for Cameroon can be glimpsed. This story told by a canine everyman offers something for any reader interested in freedom withheld and the early stirrings that will someday win it back.
Toundi Ondoua, the rural African protagonist of Houseboy, encounters a world of prisms that cast beautiful but unobtainable glimmers, especially for a black youth in colonial Cameroon. Houseboy, written in the form of Toundi’s captivating diary and translated from the original French, discloses his awe of the white world and a web of unpredictable experiences. Early on, he escapes his father’s angry blows by seeking asylum with his benefactor, the local European priest who meets an untimely death. Toundi then becomes “the Chief European’s ‘boy’–the dog of the King.” Toundi’s attempt to fulfill a dream of advancement and improvement opens his eyes to troubling realities. Gradually, preconceptions of the Europeans come crashing down on him as he struggles with his identity, his place in society, and the changing culture.
In Cameroon in 1931, Sara is taken from her family and brought to Mount Pleasant as a gift for Sultan Njoya, the Bamum leader cast into exile by French colonialists. Just nine years old and on the verge of becoming one of the sultan’s hundreds of wives, Sara’s story takes an unexpected turn when she is recognized by Bertha, the slave in charge of training Njoya’s brides, as Nebu, the son she lost tragically years before. In Sara’s new life as a boy she bears witness to the world of Sultan Njoya-a magical, yet declining place of artistic and intellectual minds-and hears the story of the sultan’s last days in the Palace of All Dreams and of the sad fate of Nebu, the greatest artist their culture had seen.
Seven decades later, a student returns home to Cameroon to research the place it once was, and she finds Sara, silent for decades, ready to tell her story. In her serpentine tale, a lost kingdom lives again in the compromised intersection between flawed memory, tangled fiction, and faintly discernible truth. In this telling, history is invented anew and transformed-a man awakens from a coma to find the animal kingdom dancing a waltz, a spirit haunts a cocoa plantation, and a sculptor recreates his lost love in a work of art that challenges the boundary between truth and the ideal. Award-winning novelist Patrice Nganang’s lyrical and majestic Mount Pleasant is a resurrection of the world of early twentieth century Cameroon and an elegy for the men and women swept up in the forces of colonization.
Central African Republic (CAR)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Aya tells the story of its nineteen-year-old heroine, the studious and clear-sighted Aya, her easygoing friends Adjoua and Bintou, and their meddling relatives and neighbors. It’s a breezy and wryly funny account of the desire for joy and freedom, and of the simple pleasures and private troubles of everyday life in Yop City. An unpretentious and gently humorous story of an Africa we rarely see-spirited, hopeful, and resilient.
Leila Aboulela’s American debut is a provocative, timely, and engaging novel about a young Muslim woman — once privileged and secular in her native land and now impoverished in London — gradually embracing her orthodox faith. With her Muslim hijab and down-turned gaze, Najwa is invisible to most eyes, especially to the rich families whose houses she cleans in London. Twenty years ago, Najwa, then at university in Khartoum, would never have imagined that one day she would be a maid. An upper-class Westernized Sudanese, her dreams were to marry well and raise a family. But a coup forces the young woman and her family into political exile in London. Soon orphaned, she finds solace and companionship within the Muslim community. Then Najwa meets Tamer, the intense, lonely younger brother of her employer. They find a common bond in faith and slowly, silently, begin to fall in love. Written with directness and force, Minaret is a lyric and insightful novel about Islam and an alluring glimpse into a culture Westerners are only just beginning to understand.
The Kindness of Enemies
It’s 2010 and Natasha, a half Russian, half Sudanese professor of history, is researching the life of Imam Shamil, the 19th century Muslim leader who led the anti-Russian resistance in the Caucasian War. When shy, single Natasha discovers that her star student, Oz, is not only descended from the warrior but also possesses Shamil’s priceless sword, the Imam’s story comes vividly to life. As Natasha’s relationship with Oz and his alluring actress mother intensifies, Natasha is forced to confront issues she had long tried to avoid—that of her Muslim heritage. When Oz is suddenly arrested at his home one morning, Natasha realizes that everything she values stands in jeopardy.
Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)
All Our Names
All Our Names is the story of two young men who come of age during an African revolution, drawn from the safe confines of the university campus into the intensifying clamor of the streets outside. But as the line between idealism and violence becomes increasingly blurred, the friends are driven apart—one into the deepest peril, as the movement gathers inexorable force, and the other into the safety of exile in the American Midwest. There, pretending to be an exchange student, he falls in love with a social worker and settles into small-town life. Yet this idyll is inescapably darkened by the secrets of his past: the acts he committed and the work he left unfinished. Most of all, he is haunted by the beloved friend he left behind, the charismatic leader who first guided him to revolution and then sacrificed everything to ensure his freedom.
Beneath the Lion’s Gaze
This memorable, heartbreaking story opens in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 1974, on the eve of a revolution. Yonas kneels in his mother’s prayer room, pleading to his god for an end to the violence that has wracked his family and country. His father, Hailu, a prominent doctor, has been ordered to report to jail after helping a victim of state-sanctioned torture to die. And Dawit, Hailu’s youngest son, has joined an underground resistance movement—a choice that will lead to more upheaval and bloodshed across a ravaged Ethiopia.
Beneath the Lion’s Gaze tells a gripping story of family, of the bonds of love and friendship set in a time and place that has rarely been explored in fiction before. It is a story about the lengths human beings will go in pursuit of freedom and the human price of a national revolution. Emotionally gripping, poetic, and indelibly tragic, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze is a transcendent and powerful debut.
The Parking Lot Attendant
A haunting story of fatherhood, national identity, and what it means to be an immigrant in America today, Nafkote Tamirat’s The Parking Lot Attendant explores how who we love, the choices we make, and the places we’re from combine to make us who we are.
The story begins on an undisclosed island where the unnamed narrator and her father are the two newest and least liked members of a commune that has taken up residence there. Though the commune was built on utopian principles, it quickly becomes clear that life here is not as harmonious as the founders intended. After immersing us in life on the island, our young heroine takes us back to Boston to recount the events that brought her here. Though she and her father belong to a wide Ethiopian network in the city, they mostly keep to themselves, which is how her father prefers it.
This detached existence only makes Ayale’s arrival on the scene more intoxicating. The unofficial king of Boston’s Ethiopian community, Ayale is a born hustler―when he turns his attention to the narrator, she feels seen for the first time. Ostensibly a parking lot attendant, Ayale soon proves to have other projects in the works, which the narrator becomes more and more entangled in to her father’s growing dismay. By the time the scope of Ayale’s schemes―and their repercussions―become apparent, our narrator has unwittingly become complicit in something much bigger and darker than she ever imagined.
Esi decides to divorce after enduring yet another morning’s marital rape. Though her friends and family remain baffled by her decision (after all, he doesn’t beat her!), Esi holds fast. When she falls in love with a married man—wealthy, and able to arrange a polygamous marriage—the modern woman finds herself trapped in a new set of problems. Witty and compelling, Aidoo’s novel, “inaugurates a new realist style in African literature.”
From Pasta to Pigfoot
Under-achieving PA, Faye Bonsu, is on a mission to find love. A disastrous night out leaves pasta-fanatic Faye’s romantic dreams in tatters and underscores her alienation from her African heritage.
Leaving her cosy middle-class life in London’s leafy Hampstead to find out what she’s missing, Faye is whisked into the hectic social whirlpool of Ghana where she meets Sonny, the pretty-boy womaniser; Edwin, her host’s America-crazy boyfriend; Baaba, of the enormous hips and sardonic tongue; and handsome Rocky Asante, a cynical, career-obsessed banker with no time for women… until now. In a world of food, fun and sun, Faye discovers that no matter how far you travel, you can’t find love until you find yourself.
Ghana Must Go
Electric, exhilarating, and beautifully crafted, Ghana Must Go introduces the world to Taiye Selasi, a novelist of extraordinary talent. In a sweeping narrative that takes readers from Accra to Lagos to London to New York, it is at once a portrait of a modern family and an exploration of the importance of where we come from to who we are.
A renowned surgeon and failed husband, Kweku Sai dies suddenly at dawn outside his home in suburban Accra. The news of his death sends a ripple around the world, bringing together the family he abandoned years before. Moving with great elegance through time and place, Ghana Must Go charts their circuitous journey to one another and, along the way, teaches us that the truths we speak can heal the wounds we hide.
Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery.
Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.
Harmattan Rain, shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Best First Book, follows three generations of women as they cope with family, love and life. A few years before Ghana’s independence, Lizzie-Achiaa’s lover disappears. Intent on finding him, she runs away from home. Akua Afriyie, Lizzie-Achiaa’s first daughter, strikes out on her own as a single parent in a country rocked by successive coups. Her daughter, Sugri grows up overprotected. She leaves home for university in New York, where she learns that sometimes one can have too much freedom. In the end, the secrets parents keep from their children eventually catch up with them.
Kenkey for Ewes and Other Very Short Stories
This is an anthology of hope. Never have so many young people captured the stories of our time the way this army of writers have immortalised. But beyond the greatness in the stories, Kenkey for Ewes guarantees one thrilling fact: it is a great time to be a global citizen.
These stories represent the budding creative spirit of the current generation of young Ghanaian writers. These new voices have become the refreshing perspective from which to consider the Ghanaian narrative in a thousand or less words.
No Sweetness Here and Other Stories
In this collection, Ama Aita Aidoo explores postcolonial life in Ghana with her characteristic honesty and humor. Tradition wrestles with new urban influences as Africans try to sort out their identity in a changing culture. True to the tradition of African storytelling, the characters come to life through their distinct voices and speech. If there is no sweetness, there is the salt essential to life, even if it comes from tears, and the strength that comes from a history of endurance.
Saturday’s Shadows is based in a West African country at the end of a 17 year military dictatorship. It weaves the stories of four members of the Avoka household, where everybody is lurching toward self destruction. The father, Theo, is recruited to write the memoirs of the dictator turned president whom he loathes. Zahra, matriarch of the house, rekindles an affair with an old lover and barely keeps her family and sanity together. Theo and Zahra’s son Kojo has just started the boarding school of his dreams but finds out it’s nothing like he imagined. Their new help, Atsu, recently transplanted from the village, struggles to understand the eccentricities of her new family.
The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born
A railway freight clerk in Ghana attempts to hold out against the pressures that impel him toward corruption in both his family and his country. The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born is the novel that catapulted Ayi Kwei Armah into the limelight. The novel is generally a satirical attack on the Ghanaian society during Kwame Nkrumah’s regime and the period immediately after independence in the 1960s. It is often claimed to rank with “Things Fall Apart” as one of the high points of post-colonial African Literature.
THE HEALERS tells a story of the conflict and regeneration focused on replacing toxic ignorance with the healing knowledge of African unity.
The Hundred Wells of Salaga
Based on true events, a story of courage, forgiveness, love, and freedom in precolonial Ghana, told through the eyes of two women born to vastly different fates.
Aminah lives an idyllic life until she is brutally separated from her home and forced on a journey that transforms her from a daydreamer into a resilient woman. Wurche, the willful daughter of a chief, is desperate to play an important role in her father’s court. These two women’s lives converge as infighting among Wurche’s people threatens the region, during the height of the slave trade at the end of the nineteenth century.
Through the experiences of Aminah and Wurche, The Hundred Wells of Salaga offers a remarkable view of slavery and how the scramble for Africa affected the lives of everyday people.
This Earth, My Brother
Set in Ghana, this novel echoes many of the obsessive themes of the author’s poems. The story describes the pain of Awoonor’s voluntary exile and his spiritual return to his native land.
Wife of the Gods
Introducing Detective Inspector Darko Dawson: dedicated family man, rebel in the office, ace in the field—and one of the most appealing sleuths to come along in years. When we first meet Dawson, he’s been ordered by his cantankerous boss to leave behind his loving wife and young son in Ghana’s capital city to lead a murder investigation: In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young woman—a promising medical student—has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Dawson is fluent in Ketanu’s indigenous language, so he’s the right man for the job, but the local police are less than thrilled with an outsider’s interference. For Dawson, this sleepy corner of Ghana is rife with emotional land mines: an estranged relationship with the family he left behind twenty-five years earlier and the painful memory of his own mother’s inexplicable disappearance. Armed with remarkable insight and a healthy dose of skepticism, Dawson soon finds his cosmopolitan sensibilities clashing with age-old customs, including a disturbing practice in which teenage girls are offered to fetish priests as trokosi, or Wives of the Gods. Delving deeper into the student’s haunting death, Dawson will uncover long-buried secrets that, to his surprise, hit much too close to home.
Dance of the Jakaranda
Set in the shadow of Kenya’s independence from Great Britain, Dance of the Jakaranda reimagines the special circumstances that brought black, brown and white men together to lay the railroad that heralded the birth of the nation.
The novel traces the lives and loves of three men–preacher Richard Turnbull, the colonial administrator Ian McDonald, and Indian technician Babu Salim–whose lives intersect when they are implicated in the controversial birth of a child. Years later, when Babu’s grandson Rajan–who ekes out a living by singing Babu’s epic tales of the railway’s construction–accidentally kisses a mysterious stranger in a dark nightclub, the encounter provides the spark to illuminate the three men’s shared, murky past.
Odidi Oganda, running for his life, is gunned down in the streets of Nairobi. His grief-stricken sister, Ajany, just returned from Brazil, and their father bring his body back to their crumbling home in the Kenyan drylands, seeking some comfort and peace. But the murder has stirred memories long left untouched and unleashed a series of unexpected events: Odidi and Ajany’s mercurial mother flees in a fit of rage; a young Englishman arrives at the Ogandas’ house, seeking his missing father; a hardened policeman who has borne witness to unspeakable acts reopens a cold case; and an all-seeing Trader with a murky identity plots an overdue revenge. In scenes stretching from the violent upheaval of contemporary Kenya back through a shocking political assassination in 1969 and the Mau Mau uprisings against British colonial rule in the 1950s, we come to learn the secrets held by this parched landscape, buried deep within the shared past of the family and of a conflicted nation.
A young and beautiful white woman is murdered in the US, and the prime suspect is former Rwandan school headmaster Joshua – a hero who had risked his life to save the innocent during Rwanda’s genocide. Ishmael, an African American detective, must investigate the case by plunging himself into Joshua’s past. He travels to Kenya, where Joshua once lived as a refugee, and fi nds himself unearthing his own African identity as he uncovers this violent crime. Kenyan author Mukoma wa Ngugi’s debut novel is a gripping and hard-hitting detective thriller that questions race, identity and class”–Publisher’s website.
Wizard of the Crow
A landmark of postcolonial African literature, Wizard of the Crow is an ambitious, magisterial, comic novel from the acclaimed Kenyan novelist, playwright, poet, and critic.
Set in the fictional Free Republic of Aburiria, Wizard of the Crow dramatizes with corrosive humor and keenness of observation a battle for the souls of the Aburirian people, between a megalomaniac dictator and an unemployed young man who embraces the mantle of a magician. Fashioning the stories of the powerful and the ordinary into a dazzling mosaic, in this magnificent work of magical realism, Ngugi wa’Thiong’o—one of the most widely read African writers—reveals humanity in all its endlessly surprising complexity.
She Would Be King
Wayétu Moore’s powerful debut novel, She Would Be King, reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s early years through three unforgettable characters who share an uncommon bond. Gbessa, exiled from the West African village of Lai, is starved, bitten by a viper, and left for dead, but still she survives. June Dey, raised on a plantation in Virginia, hides his unusual strength until a confrontation with the overseer forces him to flee. Norman Aragon, the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, can fade from sight when the earth calls him. When the three meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes, as a new nation forms around them.
Moore’s intermingling of history and magical realism finds voice not just in these three characters but also in the fleeting spirit of the wind, who embodies an ancient wisdom. “If she was not a woman,” the wind says of Gbessa, “she would be king.” In this vibrant story of the African diaspora, Moore, a talented storyteller and a daring writer, illuminates with radiant and exacting prose the tumultuous roots of a country inextricably bound to the United States. She Would Be King is a novel of profound depth set against a vast canvas and a transcendent debut from a major new author.
Nouvelles de Madagascar
Pour qui a arpenté les hauts plateaux de l’Imérina, sillonné ce pays de rizières, de forêts peuplées d’une faune fabuleuse, pour qui a côtoyé jour après jour les Malgaches des villes (Antananarivo, Mahajanga, Antsirabe, Antsiranana [Diego Suarez], Tamatave, Tulear, etc.) et ceux des campagnes, l’énigme de cette île enchanteresse es encore plus grande. La littérature malgache d’aujourd’hui s’écrit en malagasy, ou, vestige de l’histoire coloniale, en français. Elle demeure aussi souvent orale, c’est la littérature dite des Anciens par laquelle se perpétuent les traditions.
Ce recueil, avec des nouvelles inédites d’auteurs vivant à Madagascar ou en Europe, tous hantés par leur île, ses sortilèges, son histoire ancienne et tous soucieux de son devenir, est une photographie de l’île aujourd’hui. La pauvreté, celle des campagnes et celle des villes, l’exode, le tourisme et ses terribles conséquences, la corruption, l’instabilité politique, mais aussi le passé prestigieux, Antananarivo la grouillante « Ville des Mille » : tels sont les sujets de ces textes qui permettent d’aborder la réalité malgache ; ou plutôt quelques-unes des multiples facettes de la réalité de l’immense Île rouge.
The Curious Case of Dassoukine’s Trousers
This long-awaited English-language debut from Morocco’s most prominent contemporary writer won the Prix Gouncourt de Nouvelles, France’s most prestigious literary award, for best story collection. Laroui uses surrealism, laugh-out-loud humor, and profound compassion across a variety of literary styles to highlight the absurdity of the human condition, exploring the realities of life in a world where everything is foreign.
The Moor’s Account
In these pages, Laila Lalami brings us the imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America: Mustafa al-Zamori, called Estebanico. The slave of a Spanish conquistador, Estebanico sails for the Americas with his master, Dorantes, as part of a danger-laden expedition to Florida. Within a year, Estebanico is one of only four crew members to survive.
As he journeys across America with his Spanish companions, the Old World roles of slave and master fall away, and Estebanico remakes himself as an equal, a healer, and a remarkable storyteller. His tale illuminates the ways in which our narratives can transmigrate into history—and how storytelling can offer a chance at redemption and survival.
The Other Americans
Late one spring night, Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant in California, is walking across a darkened intersection when he is killed by a speeding car. The repercussions of his death bring together a diverse cast of characters: Guerraoui’s daughter Nora, a jazz composer who returns to the small town in the Mojave she thought she’d left for good; his widow Maryam, who still pines after her life in the old country; Efrain, an undocumented witness whose fear of deportation prevents him from coming forward; Jeremy, a former classmate of Nora’s and a veteran of the Iraq war; Coleman, a detective who is slowly discovering her son’s secrets; Anderson, a neighbor trying to reconnect with his family; and the murdered man himself.
As the characters tell their stories, the invisible connections that tie them together–even while they remain deeply divided by race, religion, or class–are slowly revealed. When the mystery of what happened to Driss Guerraoui unfolds, a family’s secrets are exposed, a town’s hypocrisies are faced, and love, in its messy and unpredictable forms, is born.
Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits
In her exciting debut, Laila Lalami evokes the grit and enduring grace that is modern Morocco and offers an authentic look at the Muslim immigrant experience today.
The book begins as four Moroccans illegally cross the Strait of Gibraltar in an inflatable boat headed for Spain. There’s Murad, a gentle, educated man who’s been reduced to hustling tourists around Tangier; Halima, who’s fleeing her drunken husband and the slums of Casablanca; Aziz, who must leave behind his devoted wife to find work in Spain; and Faten, a student and religious fanatic whose faith is at odds with an influential man determined to destroy her future.
What has driven these men and women to risk their lives? And will the rewards prove to be worth the danger? Sensitively written with beauty and boldness, this is a gripping book about people in search of a better future.
A Bit of Difference
At thirty-nine, Deola Bello, a Nigerian expatriate in London, is dissatisfied with being single and working overseas. Deola works as a financial reviewer for an international charity, and when her job takes her back to Nigeria in time for her father’s five-year memorial service, she finds herself turning her scrutiny inward. In Nigeria, Deola encounters changes in her family and in the urban landscape of her home, and new acquaintances who offer unexpected possibilities. Deola’s journey is as much about evading others’ expectations to get to the heart of her frustration as it is about exposing the differences between foreign images of Africa and the realities of contemporary Nigerian life. Deola’s urgent, incisive voice captivates and guides us through the intricate layers and vivid scenes of a life lived across continents. With Sefi Atta’s characteristic boldness and vision, A Bit of Difference limns the complexities of our contemporary world. This is a novel not to be missed.
And After Many Days
During the rainy season of 1995, in the bustling town of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, one family’s life is disrupted by the sudden disappearance of seventeen-year-old Paul Utu, beloved brother and son. As they grapple with the sudden loss of their darling boy, they embark on a painful and moving journey of immense power which changes their lives forever and shatters the fragile ecosystem of their once ordered family. Ajie, the youngest sibling, is burdened with the guilt of having seen Paul last and convinced that his vanished brother was betrayed long ago. But his search for the truth uncovers hidden family secrets and reawakens old, long forgotten ghosts as rumours of police brutality, oil shortages, and frenzied student protests serve as a backdrop to his pursuit.
In a tale that moves seamlessly back and forth through time, Ajie relives a trip to the family’s ancestral village where, together, he and his family listen to the myths of how their people settled there, while the villagers argue over the mysterious Company, who found oil on their land and will do anything to guarantee support. As the story builds towards its stunning conclusion, it becomes clear that only once past and present come to a crossroads will Ajie and his family finally find the answers they have been searching for.
Anthills of the Savannah
In the fictional West African nation of Kangan, newly independent of British rule, the hopes and dreams of democracy have been quashed by a fierce military dictatorship. Chris Oriko is a member of the president’s cabinet for life, and one of the leader’s oldest friends. When the president is charged with censoring the opportunistic editor of the state-run newspaper–another childhood friend–Chris’s loyalty and ideology are put to the test. The fate of Kangan hangs in the balance as tensions rise and a devious plot is set in motion to silence a firebrand critic.
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.
Arrows of Rain
In the country of Madia (based in part on Ndibe’s native Nigeria) a young prostitute runs into the sea and drowns. The last man who spoke to her, the “madman” Bukuru, is asked to account for her last moments. When his testimony implicates the Madian armed forces, Bukuru is arrested and charged with her death. At the first day of trial, Bukuru, acting as his own attorney, counters these charges with allegations of his own, speaking not only of government complicity in a series of violent assaults and killings, but telling the court that the president of Madia himself is guilty of rape and murder. The incident is hushed up, and Bukuru is sent back to prison, where he will likely meet his end. But a young journalist manages to visit him, and together they journey through decades of history that illuminate Bukuru’s life, and that of the entire nation. A brave and powerful work of fiction, Arrows of Rain is a brilliant dramatization of the complex factors behind the near-collapse of a nation from one of the most exciting novelists writing today.
Beasts of No Nation
As civil war rages in an unnamed West-African nation, Agu, the school-aged protagonist of this stunning debut novel, is recruited into a unit of guerilla fighters. Haunted by his father’s own death at the hands of militants, which he fled just before witnessing, Agu is vulnerable to the dangerous yet paternal nature of his new commander.
While the war rages on, Agu becomes increasingly divorced from the life he had known before the conflict started—a life of school friends, church services, and time with his family, still intact. As he vividly recalls these sunnier times, his daily reality continues to spin further downward into inexplicable brutality, primal fear, and loss of selfhood.
Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.
Abandoned by his birth mother, losing his adoptive mother to cancer, and failing to connect with his distant adoptive father, Leke–a troubled young man living in Cape Town–has developed some odd and possibly destructive habits: he stalks strangers, steals small objects, and visits doctors and healers in search of friendship. Through a series of letters written to him from prison by his Nigerian father, a man he has never met, Leke learns about the family curse–a curse which his father had unsuccessfully tried to remove. Leke’s search to break the curse leads him to strange places.
Born on a Tuesday
Born on a Tuesday is a stirring, starkly rendered first novel about a young boy struggling to find his place in a society that is fracturing along religious and political lines.
In far northwestern Nigeria, Dantala lives among a gang of street boys who sleep under a kuka tree. During the election, the boys are paid by the Small Party to cause trouble. When their attempt to burn down the opposition’s local headquarters ends in disaster, Dantala must run for his life, leaving his best friend behind. He makes his way to a mosque that provides him with food, shelter, and guidance. With his quick aptitude and modest nature, Dantala becomes a favored apprentice to the mosque’s sheikh. Before long, he is faced with a terrible conflict of loyalties, as one of the sheikh’s closest advisors begins to raise his own radical movement. When bloodshed erupts in the city around him, Dantala must decide what kind of Muslim—and what kind of man—he wants to be. Told in Dantala’s naïve, searching voice, this astonishing debut explores the ways in which young men are seduced by religious fundamentalism and violence.
Boy, Snow, Bird
In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries Arturo Whitman, a local widower, and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow.
A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African-Americans passing for white. And even as Boy, Snow, and Bird are divided, their estrangement is complicated by an insistent curiosity about one another. In seeking an understanding that is separate from the image each presents to the world, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.
Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.
Children of Blood and Bone
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.
Daughters Who Walk This Path
Daughters Who Walk This Path depicts the dramatic coming of age of Morayo, a spirited and intelligent girl growing up in 1980s Ibadan who is thrust into a web of oppressive silence woven by the adults around her. It’s a legacy of silence many women in Morayo’s family share. Only Aunty Morenike-once protected by her own mother-provides Morayo with a safe home, and a sense of female community which sustains Morayo as she grows into a young woman in bustling, politically charged, often violent Nigeria.
Easy Motion Tourist
Guy Collins, a British hack, is hunting for an election story in Lagos. A decision to check out a local bar in Victoria Island ends up badly – a mutilated female body is discarded close by and Collins is picked up as a suspect. In the murk of a hot, groaning and bloody police station cell, Collins fears the worst. But then Amaka, a sassy guardian angel of Lagos working girls, talks the police station chief around. She assumes Collins is a BBC journo who can broadcast the city’s witchcraft and body parts trade that she’s on a one-woman mission to stop. With Easy Motion Tourist’s astonishing cast, Tarantino has landed in Lagos. This page turning debut crime novel pulses with the rhythm of Nigeria’s mega-city, reeks of its open drains and sparkles like the champagne quaffed in its upmarket districts.
Appearing in 1966, Efuru was the first internationally published book, in English, by a Nigerian woman. Flora Nwapa (1931-1993) sets her story in a small village in colonial West Africa as she describes the youth, marriage, motherhood, and eventual personal epiphany of a young woman in rural Nigeria. The respected and beautiful protagonist, an independent-minded Ibo woman named Efuru, wishes to be a mother. Her eventual tragedy is that she is not able to marry or raise children successfully. Alone and childless, Efuru realizes she surely must have a higher calling and goes to the lake goddess of her tribe, Uhamiri, to discover the path she must follow.
The work, a rich exploration of Nigerian village life and values, offers a realistic picture of gender issues in a patriarchal society as well as the struggles of a nation exploited by colonialism.
Everyday Is for the Thief
A young Nigerian living in New York City goes home to Lagos for a short visit, finding a city both familiar and strange. In a city dense with story, the unnamed narrator moves through a mosaic of life, hoping to find inspiration for his own. He witnesses the “yahoo yahoo” diligently perpetrating email frauds from an Internet café, longs after a mysterious woman reading on a public bus who disembarks and disappears into a bookless crowd, and recalls the tragic fate of an eleven-year-old boy accused of stealing at a local market.
Along the way, the man reconnects with old friends, a former girlfriend, and extended family, taps into the energies of Lagos life—creative, malevolent, ambiguous—and slowly begins to reconcile the profound changes that have taken place in his country and the truth about himself.
In spare, precise prose that sees humanity everywhere, interwoven with original photos by the author, Every Day Is for the Thief—originally published in Nigeria in 2007—is a wholly original work of fiction. This revised and updated edition is the first version of this unique book to be made available outside Africa. You’ve never read a book like Every Day Is for the Thief because no one writes like Teju Cole.
Everything Good Will Come
In the Shadow of Silence introduces an important new voice in contemporary fiction. With insight and a lyrical wisdom reminiscent of Edwidge Danticat, Nigerian-born Sefi Atta has written a powerful and eloquent story set in her African homeland. It is 1971, a year after the Biafran War, and Nigeria is under military rule, though the politics of the state matter less than those of her home to Enitan Taiwo, an eleven-year-old girl tired of waiting for school to start. Will her mother, who has become deeply religious since the death of Taiwo’s brother, allow her friendship with the new girl next door, the brash and beautiful Sheri Bakare? This novel charts the fate of these two African girls, one born of privilege and the other, a lower class half-caste; one who is prepared to manipulate the traditional system while the other attempts to defy it.
Written in the voice of Enitan, the novel traces this unusual friendship into their adult lives, against the backdrop of tragedy, family strife, and a war-torn Nigeria. In the end, In the Shadow of Silence is Enitan’s story; one of a fierecely intelligent, strong young woman coming of age in a culture that still insists on feminine submission. The novel evokes the sights and smells of Africa while imparting a wise and universal story of love, friendship, prejudice, survival, politics, and the cost of divided loyalties.
Warri, October 1992: Seething with idleness and nonchalance, sick of watching his parents fight, 16-year-old Ewaen is waiting for university to begin, waiting for something to happen. Months later, Ewaen and friends are finally enrolled as freshmen at the University of Benin. Their routine now consists of hanging out in a parking lot trading jibes, chasing girls and sex, and learning to manage the staff strikes and crumbling infrastructure. But Nigerian campuses in the 1990s can be dangerous places, too. Violent confraternities stake territories and stalk for new recruits. An incident of petty crime snowballs into tragedy.
Foreign Gods Inc.
A meditation on the dreams, promises and frustrations of the immigrant life in America; the nature and impact of religious conflicts; an examination of the ways in which modern culture creates or heightens infatuation with the “exotic,” including the desire to own strange objects and hanker after ineffable illusions; and an exploration of the shifting nature of memory, Foreign Gods is a brilliant work of fiction that illuminates our globally interconnected world like no other.
An extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born “with one foot on the other side.” Unsettling, heartwrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities.
Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children’s stories, beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe.
Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it’s very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (or, according to many sources, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee’s early youth. The world’s truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread, however, is Harriet’s charismatic childhood friend Gretel Kercheval —a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met.
Decades later, when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother’s long-lost friend, it prompts a new telling of Harriet’s story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value. Endlessly surprising and satisfying, written with Helen Oyeyemi’s inimitable style and imagination, it is a true feast for the reader.
Half of a Yellow Sun
With effortless grace, celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s. We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor’s beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover’s charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna’s willful twin sister Kainene. Half of a Yellow Sun is a tremendously evocative novel of the promise, hope, and disappointment of the Biafran war.
Happiness Like Water
Here are Nigerian women at home and transplanted to the United States, building lives out of longing and hope, faith and doubt, the struggle to stay and the mandate to leave, the burden and strength of love. Here are characters faced with dangerous decisions, children slick with oil from the river, a woman in love with another despite the penalties. Here is a world marked by electricity outages, lush landscapes, folktales, buses that break down and never start up again. Here is a portrait of Nigerians that is surprising, shocking, heartrending, loving, and across social strata, dealing in every kind of change. Here are stories filled with language to make your eyes pause and your throat catch. Happiness, Like Water introduces a true talent, a young writer with a beautiful heart and a capacious imagination.
It is the early-sixties when a young Tayo Ajayi sails to England from Nigeria to take up a scholarship at Oxford University. In this city of dreaming spires, he finds himself among a generation high on visions of a new and better world. The whole world seems ablaze with change: independence at home, the Civil Rights movement and the first tremors of cultural and sexual revolutions. It is then that Tayo meets Vanessa Richardson, the beautiful daughter of an ex-colonial officer. In Dependence is Tayo and Vanessa’s story of a brave but bittersweet love affair. It is the story of two people struggling to find themselves and each other – a story of passion and idealism, courage and betrayal, and the universal desire to fall, madly, deeply, in love.
Tells the story of Jagua Nana, an ageing high-lifer and habitue of the seedy club Tropicana, which is an evocation of the chaos and intensive life of Lagos.
Lagos has, like many coastal cities, a very checkered and noir past. It is the largest city in Nigeria and its former capital. It is also the largest megacity on the African continent, with a population approximating twenty-one million, and by itself is the fourth-largest economy in Africa…It is rumored that there are more canals in Lagos than in Venice. Except in Lagos they are often unintentional. Gutters that have become waterways and lagoons fenced in by stilt homes or full of logs for a timber industry most of us don’t know exists. All of it skated by canoes as slick as any dragonfly. There are currently no moonlight or other gondola rides available…
The thirteen stories that comprise this volume stretch the boundaries of “noir” fiction, but each one of them fully captures the essence of noir, the unsettled darkness that continues to lurk in the city’s streets, alleys, and waterways…Together, these stories create an unchartered path through the center of Lagos and out to its peripheries, revealing so much more truth at the heart of this tremendous city than any guidebook, TV show, film, or book you are likely to find.
When a massive object crashes into the ocean off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous and legendary city, three people wandering along Bar Beach (Adaora, the marine biologist- Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa- Agu, the troubled soldier) find themselves running a race against time to save the country they love and the world itself… from itself.
Told from multiple points of view and crisscrossing narratives, combining everything from superhero comics to Nigerian mythology to tie together a story about a city consuming itself.
Like a Mule Bringing Ice-cream to the Sun
Morayo Da Silva, a cosmopolitan Nigerian woman, lives in San Francisco. Almost seventy-five, she has a zest for life and enjoys road trips in her vintage Porsche. But when Morayo has an accident, crushing her independence, she is prompted to reassess her relationships and recollect her past life and loves. A humorous, joyful read.
Love Is Power Or Something Like That: Stories
In these wide-ranging stories, A. Igoni Barrett roams the streets with people from all stations of life. A man with acute halitosis navigates the chaos of the Lagos bus system. A minor policeman, full of the authority and corruption of his uniform, beats his wife. A family’s fortunes fall from love and wealth to infidelity and poverty as poor choices unfurl over three generations. With humor and tenderness, Barrett introduces us to an utterly modern Nigeria, where desire is a means to an end, and love is a power as real as money.
Mamo and LaMamo are twin brothers living in the small Nigerian village of Keti, where their domineering father controls their lives. With high hopes the twins attempt to flee from home, but only LaMamo escapes successfully and is able to live their dream of becoming a soldier who meets beautiful women. Mamo, the sickly, awkward twin, is doomed to remain in the village with his father. Gradually he comes out of his father’s shadow and gains local fame as a historian, and, using Plutarch’s Parallel Lives as his model, he embarks on the ambitious project of writing a “true” history of his people. But when the rains fail and famine rages, religious zealots incite the people to violence―and LaMamo returns to fight the enemy at home.
Fairy-tale romances end with a wedding, and the fairy tales don’t get complicated. In this book, the celebrated writer Mr. Fox can’t stop himself from killing off the heroines of his novels, and neither can his wife, Daphne. It’s not until Mary, his muse, comes to life and transforms him from author into subject that his story begins to unfold differently.
Mary challenges Mr. Fox to join her in stories of their own devising; and in different times and places, the two of them seek each other, find each other, thwart each other, and try to stay together, even when the roles they inhabit seem to forbid it. Their adventures twist the fairy tale into nine variations, exploding and teasing conventions of genre and romance, and each iteration explores the fears that come with accepting a lifelong bond. Meanwhile, Daphne becomes convinced that her husband is having an affair, and finds her way into Mary and Mr. Fox’s game. And so Mr. Fox is offered a choice: Will it be a life with the girl of his dreams, or a life with an all-too-real woman who delights him more than he cares to admit?
The extraordinarily gifted Helen Oyeyemi has written a love story like no other. Mr. Fox is a magical book, endlessly inventive, as witty and charming as it is profound in its truths about how we learn to be with one another.
My Sister, the Serial Killer
Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead.
Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.
Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her.
Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite’s deliciously deadly debut is as fun as it is frightening.
Oil on Water
In the oil-rich and environmentally devastated Nigerian Delta, the wife of a British oil executive has been kidnapped. Two journalists-a young upstart, Rufus, and a once-great, now disillusioned veteran, Zaq-are sent to find her. In a story rich with atmosphere and taut with suspense, Oil on Water explores the conflict between idealism and cynical disillusionment in a journey full of danger and unintended consequences.
On Black Sister’s Street
On Black Sisters Street tells the haunting story of four very different women who have left their African homeland for the riches of Europe—and who are thrown together by bad luck and big dreams into a sisterhood that will change their lives.
Each night, Sisi, Ama, Efe, and Joyce stand in the windows of Antwerp’s red-light district, promising to make men’s desires come true—if only for half an hour. Pledged to the fierce Madam and a mysterious pimp named Dele, the girls share an apartment but little else—they keep their heads down, knowing that one step out of line could cost them a week’s wages. They open their bodies to strangers but their hearts to no one, each focused on earning enough to get herself free, to send money home or save up for her own future.
Then, suddenly, a murder shatters the still surface of their lives. Drawn together by tragedy and the loss of one of their own, the women realize that they must choose between their secrets and their safety. As they begin to tell their stories, their confessions reveal the face in Efe’s hidden photograph, Ama’s lifelong search for a father, Joyce’s true name, and Sisi’s deepest secrets—-and all their tales of fear, displacement, and love, concluding in a chance meeting with a handsome, sinister stranger.
Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor doing his residency wanders aimlessly. The walks meet a need for Julius: they are a release from the tightly regulated mental environment of work, and they give him the opportunity to process his relationships, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, his present, his past.
But it is not only a physical landscape he covers; Julius crisscrosses social territory as well, encountering people from different cultures and classes who will provide insight on his journey—which takes him to Brussels, to the Nigeria of his youth, and into the most unrecognizable facets of his own soul.
Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They’re completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home—a home that is silent and suffocating. As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s authority. Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins’ laughter rings throughout the house. When they return home, tensions within the family escalate, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together.Purple Hibiscus is an exquisite novel about the emotional turmoil of adolescence, the powerful bonds of family, and the bright promise of freedom.
Say You’re One of Them
Uwem Akpan’s stunning stories humanize the perils of poverty and violence so piercingly that few readers will feel they’ve ever encountered Africa so immediately. The eight-year-old narrator of “An Ex-Mas Feast” needs only enough money to buy books and pay fees in order to attend school. Even when his twelve-year-old sister takes to the streets to raise these meager funds, his dream can’t be granted. Food comes first. His family lives in a street shanty in Nairobi, Kenya, but their way of both loving and taking advantage of each other strikes a universal chord.
In the second of his stories published in a New Yorker special fiction issue, Akpan takes us far beyond what we thought we knew about the tribal conflict in Rwanda. The story is told by a young girl, who, with her little brother, witnesses the worst possible scenario between parents. They are asked to do the previously unimaginable in order to protect their children. This singular collection will also take the reader inside Nigeria, Benin, and Ethiopia, revealing in beautiful prose the harsh consequences for children of life in Africa.
Seasons of Crimsons Blossom
An affair between 55-year-old widow Binta Zubairu and 25-year-old weed dealer Reza was bound to provoke condemnation in conservative Northern Nigeria. Brought together in unusual circumstances, Binta and Reza faced a need they could only satisfy in each other. Binta – previously reconciled with God – now yearns for intimacy after the sexual repression of her marriage, the pain of losing her first son and the privations of widowhood. Meanwhile, Reza’s heart lies empty and waiting to be filled due to the absence of a mother. The situation comes to a head when Binta’s wealthy son confronts Reza, with disastrous consequences. This story of love and longing – set against undercurrents of political violence – unfurls gently, revealing layers of emotion that defy age, class and religion.
Second Class Citizen
The classic tale of a Nigerian woman who overcomes strict tribal domination only to encounter the hardships of immigration. Available again.
In the late 1960’s, Adah, a spirited and resourceful woman manages to move her family to London. Seeking an independent life for herself and her children she encounters racism and hard truths about being a new citizen.
Speak No Evil
A revelation shared between two privileged teenagers from very different backgrounds sets off a chain of events with devastating consequences.
Stay With Me
Ilesa, Nigeria. Ever since they first met and fell in love at university, Yejide and Akin have agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage—after consulting fertility doctors and healers, and trying strange teas and unlikely cures—Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time—until her in-laws arrive on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant. Which, finally, she does—but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. The unforgettable story of a marriage as seen through the eyes of both husband and wife, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.
It is the mid-1980s in Lagos, Nigeria, and the government’s War against Indiscipline is in full operation. Amid poverty and tight rules and regulations, women especially must sacrifice dignity and safety in order to find work and peace. Tolani Ajao is a secretary working at Federal Community Bank. A succession of unfortunate events leads Tolani’s roommate and volatile friend Rose to persuade her to consider drug trafficking as an alternative means of making a living. Tolani’s struggle with temptation forces her to reconsider her morality and that of her mother, Arike; Swallow weaves the stories of the two women intricately together in a vivid, unforgettable portrayal of Tolani’s turbulent journey of self-discovery.
The Carnivorous City
Rabato Sabato aka Soni Dike is a Lagos big boy; a criminal turned grandee, with a beautiful wife, a sea-side mansion and a questionable fortune. Then one day he disappears and his car is found in a ditch, music blaring from the speakers.
Soni’s older brother, Abel Dike, a teacher, arrives in Lagos to look for his missing brother. Abel is rapidly sucked into the unforgiving Lagos maelstrom where he has to navigate encounters with a motley cast of common criminals, deal with policemen all intent on getting a piece of the pie, and contend with his growing attraction for his brother’s wife.
Carnivorous City is a story about love, family and just desserts but it is above all a tale about Lagos and the people who make the city by the lagoon what it is.
The Girl Who Lied
Kemi, a risk taker who’s used to getting her way, and Tola, shy and obedient, couldn’t be more different, but when boarding school brings the two together, they become inseparable. Their friendship and Tola’s morals are put to the test when Kemi is involved in a serious and suspicious accident. Tola must make the difficult decision of telling the truth and obeying the grown-ups or protecting the secret of her newfound friend.
Ploughshares, the literary magazine of Emerson College.
The Famished Road
In the decade since it won the Booker Prize, Ben Okri’s Famished Road has become a classic. Like Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children or Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, it combines brilliant narrative technique with a fresh vision to create an essential work of world literature.
The narrator, Azaro, is an abiku, a spirit child, who in the Yoruba tradition of Nigeria exists between life and death. The life he foresees for himself and the tale he tells is full of sadness and tragedy, but inexplicably he is born with a smile on his face. Nearly called back to the land of the dead, he is resurrected. But in their efforts to save their child, Azaro’s loving parents are made destitute. The tension between the land of the living, with its violence and political struggles, and the temptations of the carefree kingdom of the spirits propels this latter-day Lazarus’s story.
Told by nine-year-old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, THE FISHERMEN is the Cain and Abel-esque story of a childhood in Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his absence to skip school and go fishing. At the forbidden nearby river, they meet a madman who persuades the oldest of the boys that he is destined to be killed by one of his siblings. What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact-both tragic and redemptive-will transcend the lives and imaginations of the book’s characters and readers. Dazzling and viscerally powerful, THE FISHERMEN is an essential novel about Africa, seen through the prism of one family’s destiny.
The Icarus Girl
The audacious first novel from the award-winning and highly acclaimed Helen Oyeyemi.
Jessamy “Jess” Harrison, age eight, is the child of an English father and a Nigerian mother. Possessed of an extraordinary imagination, she has a hard time fitting in at school. It is only when she visits Nigeria for the first time that she makes a friend who understands her: a ragged little girl named TillyTilly. But soon TillyTilly’s visits become more disturbing, until Jess realizes she doesn’t actually know who her friend is at all. Drawing on Nigerian mythology, Helen Oyeyemi presents a striking variation on the classic literary theme of doubles — both real and spiritual — in this lyrical and bold debut.
The Joys of Motherhood
First published in 1979, The Joys of Motherhood is the story of Nnu Ego, a Nigerian woman struggling in a patriarchal society. Unable to conceive in her first marriage, Nnu is banished to Lagos where she succeeds in becoming a mother. Then, against the backdrop of World War II, Nnu must fiercely protect herself and her children when she is abandoned by her husband and her people. Emecheta “writes with subtlety, power, and abundant compassion” (New York Times).
The King’s Rifle
It’s winter 1944 and the Second World War is entering its most crucial state. A few months ago fourteen-year-old Ali Banana was a blacksmith’s apprentice in his rural hometown in West Africa; now he’s trekking through the Burmese jungle. Led by the unforgettably charismatic Sergeant Damisa, the unit has been given orders to go behind enemy lines and wreak havoc. But Japanese snipers lurk behind every tree—and even if the unit manages to escape, infection and disease lie in wait. Homesick and weary, the men of D-Section Thunder Brigade refuse to give up.
Taut and immediate, The King’s Rifle is the first novel to depict the experiences of black African soldiers in the Second World War. This is a story of real life battles, of the men who made the legend of the Chindits, the unconventional, quick-strike division of the British Army in India. Brilliantly executed, this vividly realized account details the madness, sacrifice, and dark humor of that war’s most vicious battleground. It is also the moving story of a boy trying to live long enough to become a man.
The Opposite House
Lyrical and intensely moving, The Opposite House explores the thin wall between myth and reality through the alternating tales of two young women. Growing up in London, Maja, a singer, always struggled to negotiate her Afro-Cuban background with her physical home. Yemaya is a Santeria emissary who lives in a mysterious somewherehouse with two doors: one opening to London, the other to Lagos. She is troubled by the ease with which her fellow emissaries have disguised themselves behind the personas of saints and by her inability to recognize them. Interweaving these two tales. Helen Oyeyemi, acclaimed author of The Icarus Girl, spins a dazzling tale about faith, identity, and self-discovery.
The Potter’s Wheel
Satirist and chronicler of the many-faceted world of education in Nigeria, the author is one of Nigeria’s foremost writers. In this novel, he tells of Obuechina, the only brother of six older sisters, prize pupil in the village school, apple of his doting mother’s eye, eight years old and hopelessly spoilt. In a vain attempt to salvage his character, his father decides he must be sent away as a servant to a schoolmaster with a dragon of a wife. Obu goes – and comes back very different.
The Spider King’s Daughter
This title is the winner of a Betty Trask Award, Shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize, Longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize. Seventeen-year-old Abike Johnson is the favourite child of her wealthy father. She lives in a sprawling mansion in Lagos, protected by armed guards and ferried everywhere in a huge black jeep. But being her father’s favourite comes with uncomfortable duties, and she is often lonely behind the high walls of her house. A world away from Abike’s mansion, in the city’s slums, lives a seventeen-year-old hawker struggling to make sense of the world. His family lost everything after his father’s death and now he runs after cars on the roadside selling ice cream to support his mother and sister. When Abike buys ice cream from the hawker one day, they strike up an unlikely and tentative romance, defying the prejudices of Nigerian society. But as they grow closer, revelations from the past threaten their relationship and both Abike and the hawker must decide where their loyalties lie.
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives
African-born poet Lola Shoneyin sheds a fascinating light on the little-known world of polygamy in modern-day Nigeria, in her powerful and thought-provoking debut novel, The Secret Lives of the Four Wives (previously titled The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives). Fans of The 19th Wife and HBO’s Big Love will be enthralled by this riveting tale of a prosperous African family thrown into turmoil when the patriarch adds a young, well-educated fourth wife into the mix who threatens to expose the other wives’ deepest, darkest secrets.
The Thing Around Your Neck
In these twelve riveting stories, the award-winning Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explores the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States. Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, these stories map, with Adichie’s signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them.
The Woman Next Door
Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbors. One is black, the other white. Both are successful women with impressive careers. Both have recently been widowed, and are living with questions, disappointments, and secrets that have brought them shame. And each has something that the woman next door deeply desires.
Sworn enemies, the two share a hedge and a deliberate hostility, which they maintain with a zeal that belies their age. But, one day, an unexpected event forces Hortensia and Marion together. As the physical barriers between them collapse, their bickering gradually softens into conversation and, gradually, the two discover common ground. But are these sparks of connection enough to ignite a friendship, or is it too late to expect these women to change?
Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart is the first of three novels in Chinua Achebe’s critically acclaimed African Trilogy. It is a classic narrative about Africa’s cataclysmic encounter with Europe as it establishes a colonial presence on the continent. Told through the fictional experiences of Okonkwo, a wealthy and fearless Igbo warrior of Umuofia in the late 1800s, Things Fall Apart explores one man’s futile resistance to the devaluing of his Igbo traditions by British political andreligious forces and his despair as his community capitulates to the powerful new order.
Other than their first names, Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith are sure they have nothing in common, and they wouldn’t mind keeping it that way.
Naomi Marie starts clubs at the library and adores being a big sister. Naomi Edith loves quiet Saturdays and hanging with her best friend in her backyard. And while Naomi Marie’s father lives a few blocks away, Naomi Edith wonders how she’s supposed to get through each day a whole country apart from her mother.
When Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi Edith’s dad get serious about dating, each girl tries to cling to the life she knows and loves. Then their parents push them into attending a class together, where they might just have to find a way to work with each other—and maybe even join forces to find new ways to define family.
Welcome to Lagos
Deep in the Niger Delta, officer Chike Ameobi deserts the army and sets out on the road to Lagos. He is soon joined by a wayward private, a naive militant, a vulnerable young woman and a runaway middle-class wife. The shared goals of this unlikely group: freedom and new life.
As they strive to find their places in the city, they become embroiled in a political scandal. Ahmed Bakare, editor of the failing Nigerian Journal, is determined to report the truth. Yet government minister Chief Sandayo will do anything to maintain his position. Trapped between the two, they are forced to make a life-changing decision.
What Is Yours Is Not Yours
The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don’t You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).
What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky
A dazzlingly accomplished debut collection explores the ties that bind parents and children, husbands and wives, lovers and friends to one another and to the places they call home.
White Is for Witching
There’s something strange about the Silver family house in the closed-off town of Dover, England. Grand and cavernous with hidden passages and buried secrets, it’s been home to four generations of Silver women—Anna, Jennifer, Lily, and now Miranda, who has lived in the house with her twin brother, Eliot, ever since their father converted it to a bed-and-breakfast. The Silver women have always had a strong connection, a pull over one another that reaches across time and space, and when Lily, Miranda’s mother, passes away suddenly while on a trip abroad, Miranda begins suffering strange ailments. An eating disorder starves her. She begins hearing voices. When she brings a friend home, Dover’s hostility toward outsiders physically manifests within the four walls of the Silver house, and the lives of everyone inside are irrevocably changed. At once an unforgettable mystery and a meditation on race, nationality, and family legacies, White is for Witching is a boldly original, terrifying, and elegant novel by a prodigious talent.
Zilayefa, a young girl of Greek and Nigerian parentage, leaves her rustic existence and the protective grip of her mother in the village, in search of a better life in the city. With a recommendation from her church pastor, she is taken in and catered for by Sisi, an elderly woman, and her young friend, Lolo. Zilayefa is thrust into the bustling city of Port Harcourt, unprepared for the pitfalls awaiting a young girl so unsure of herself and in desperate need of direction.
Our Lady of the Nile
Mukasonga immerses us in a school for young girls, called “Notre-Dame du Nil.” The girls are sent to this high school perched on the ridge of the Nile in order to become the feminine elite of the country and to escape the dangers of the outside world. The book is a prelude to the Rwandan genocide and unfolds behind the closed doors of the school, in the interminable rainy season. Friendships, desires, hatred, political fights, incitation to racial violence, persecutions… The school soon becomes a fascinating existential microcosm of the true 1970s Rwanda.
Sao Tome and Principe
God’s Bits of Wood
In 1947-48 the workers on the Dakar-Niger railway staged a strike. In this vivid, timeless novel, Ousmane Sembène envinces the color, passion, and tragedy of those formative years in the history of West Africa.
So Long a Letter
Written by award-winning African novelist Mariama Ba and translated from the original French, So Long a Letter has been recognized as one of Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century. The brief narrative, written as an extended letter, is a sequence of reminiscences—some wistful, some bitter—recounted by recently widowed Senegalese schoolteacher Ramatoulaye Fall. Addressed to a lifelong friend, Aissatou, it is a record of Ramatoulaye’s emotional struggle for survival after her husband betrayed their marriage by taking a second wife. This semi-autobiographical account is a perceptive testimony to the plight of educated and articulate Muslim women. Angered by the traditions that allow polygyny, they inhabit a social milieu dominated by attitudes and values that deny them status equal to men. Ramatoulaye hopes for a world where the best of old customs and new freedom can be combined.
Considered a classic of contemporary African women’s literature, So Long a Letter is a must-read for anyone interested in African literature and the passage from colonialism to modernism in a Muslim country.
Radiance of Tomorrow
At the center of Radiance of Tomorrow are Benjamin and Bockarie, two longtime friends who return to their hometown, Imperi, after the civil war. The village is in ruins, the ground covered in bones. As more villagers begin to come back, Benjamin and Bockarie try to forge a new community by taking up their former posts as teachers, but they’re beset by obstacles: a scarcity of food; a rash of murders, thievery, rape, and retaliation; and the depredations of a foreign mining company intent on sullying the town’s water supply and blocking its paths with electric wires. As Benjamin and Bockarie search for a way to restore order, they’re forced to reckon with the uncertainty of their past and future alike.
With the gentle lyricism of a dream and the moral clarity of a fable, Radiance of Tomorrow is a powerful novel about preserving what means the most to us, even in uncertain times.
The Memory of Love
In contemporary Sierra Leone, a devastating civil war has left an entire populace with secrets to keep. In the capital hospital, a gifted young surgeon is plagued by demons that are beginning to threaten his livelihood. Elsewhere in the hospital lies a dying man who was young during the country’s turbulent postcolonial years and has stories to tell that are far from heroic. As past and present intersect in the buzzing city, these men are drawn unwittingly closer by a British psychologist with good intentions, and into the path of one woman at the center of their stories. A work of breathtaking writing and rare wisdom, The Memory of Love seamlessly weaves together two generations of African life to create a story of loss, absolution, and the indelible effects of the past—and, in the end, the very nature of love.
Jeebleh is returning to Mogadiscio, Somalia, for the first time in twenty years. But this is not a nostalgia trip–his last residence there was a jail cell. And who could feel nostalgic for a city like this? U.S. troops have come and gone, and the decimated city is ruled by clan warlords and patrolled by qaat-chewing gangs who shoot civilians to relieve their adolescent boredom. Diverted in his pilgrimage to visit his mother’s grave, Jeebleh is asked to investigate the abduction of the young daughter of one of his closest friend’s family. But he learns quickly that any act in this city, particularly an act of justice, is much more complicated than he might have imagined.
This first novel in Nuruddin Farah’s Blood in the Sun trilogy tells the story of Askar, a man coming of age in the turmoil of modern Africa. With his father a victim of the bloody Ethiopian civil war and his mother dying the day of his birth, Askar is taken in and raised by a man named Misra amid the scandal, gossip, and ritual of a small African village. As an adolescent, Askar goes to live in Somalia’s capital, where he strives to find himself just as Somalia struggles for national identity.
The Orchard of Lost Souls
It is 1988 and Hargeisa waits. Whispers of revolution travel on the dry winds but still the dictatorship remains secure. Soon, and through the eyes of three women, we will see Somalia fall. Nine-year-old Deqo has left the vast refugee camp she was born in, lured to the city by the promise of her first pair of shoes. Kawsar, a solitary widow, is trapped in her little house with its garden clawed from the desert, confined to her bed after a savage beating in the local police station. Filsan, a young female soldier, has moved from Mogadishu to suppress the rebellion growing in the north. And as the country is unravelled by a civil war that will shock the world, the fates of the three women are twisted irrevocably together.
In the Fog of the Seasons’ End
This is the story of those people who daily risked their lives in the underground movement against apartheid. This novel is purposely low key. This was what happened every day. This was the grind of political organization. This was the day-to-day work of dedicated people. Only at moments of crisis where their dying bodies flashed up on the television screens.
For years, it had been what is called a “deteriorating situation.” Now all over South Africa the cities are battlegrounds. The members of the Smales family—liberal whites—are rescued from the terror by their servant, July, who leads them to refuge in his village. What happens to the Smaleses and to July—the shifts in character and relationships—gives us an unforgettable look into the terrifying, tacit understandings and misunderstandings between blacks and whites.
Selected Stories by Nadine Gordimer
In stories written over a period of thirty years, individuals caught up in racial and other South African tensions choose or fall victim to visions and fears of freedom and change
The Book of the Dead
Khutso grows up poor in Masakeng. He studies hard, despite many distractions, and goes to the University of the North where he meets Pretty. Although she is scarred by her past relationships with men, the two fall in love and get married. Soon after, their son, Thapelo, is born. But there is no happily ever after here.
Even with her successful career, surrounded by beautiful things in her big house, Pretty is lonely. Their son seems to favour his father and Thapelo and Khutso seem to have their own secret club that she is not a part of. So Pretty has an affair. She contracts HIV and, filled with grief and despair, she commits suicide, leaving her husband infected with the disease…
The Collector of Treasures and Other Botswana Village Tales
Botswana village tales about subjects such as the breakdown of family life and the position of women in this society.
What We Lose
Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother’s childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor—someone, or something, to love.
In arresting and unsettling prose, we watch Thandi’s life unfold, from losing her mother and learning to live without the person who has most profoundly shaped her existence, to her own encounters with romance and unexpected motherhood. Through exquisite and emotional vignettes, Clemmons creates a stunning portrayal of what it means to choose to live, after loss. An elegiac distillation, at once intellectual and visceral, of a young woman’s understanding of absence and identity that spans continents and decades, What We Lose heralds the arrival of a virtuosic new voice in fiction.
Sipho lives in Umlazi, Durban – he is seventeen, has dropped out of school and helps out at his father’s mechanic shop. But odd jobs do not provide the lifestyle his friend Musa has, with his BMW and designer clothes. Soon Sipho’s love for fast cars and money leads him into a life of crime that brings him close to drugs, death and prison time.
Season of Migration to the North
After years of study in Europe, the young narrator of Season of Migration to the North returns to his village along the Nile in the Sudan. It is the 1960s, and he is eager to make a contribution to the new postcolonial life of his country. Back home, he discovers a stranger among the familiar faces of childhood—the enigmatic Mustafa Sa’eed. Mustafa takes the young man into his confidence, telling him the story of his own years in London, of his brilliant career as an economist, and of the series of fraught and deadly relationships with European women that led to a terrible public reckoning and his return to his native land.
But what is the meaning of Mustafa’s shocking confession? Mustafa disappears without explanation, leaving the young man—whom he has asked to look after his wife—in an unsettled and violent no-man’s-land between Europe and Africa, tradition and innovation, holiness and defilement, and man and woman, from which no one will escape unaltered or unharmed.
First published in Kenya in 2014 to critical and popular acclaim, Kintu is a modern classic, a multilayered narrative that reimagines the history of Uganda through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan. Divided into six sections, the novel begins in 1750, when Kintu Kidda sets out for the capital to pledge allegiance to the new leader of the Buganda Kingdom. Along the way, he unleashes a curse that will plague his family for generations. In an ambitious tale of a clan and a nation, Makumbi weaves together the stories of Kintu’s descendants as they seek to break from the burden of their shared past and reconcile the inheritance of tradition and the modern world that is their future.
A Cowrie of Hope
“These were the nineties,” reflects the narrator of A Cowrie of Hope, and for the young widow Nasula they are years of relentless economic hardship and privation. She dreams of a better life for her beautiful daughter, Sula, free from poverty and independent of marriage. But when Nasula finds herself unable to pay for Sula’s education, her hopes seem to have been extinguished – until a friend advised her to go to Lusaka and sell her last sack of highly sought-after Mbala beans. Nasula makes the journey, but in the city she finds herself exposed to new, and predatory, dangers.
In A Cowrie of Hope Binwell Sinyangwe captures the rhythms of a people whose poverty has not diminished their dignity, where hope can only be accompanied by small acts of courage, and where friendship has not lost its value.
Destined from birth to inhabit two very different worlds – that of her father, the wealthy Joseph Sakavungo, and that of her mother, his mistress – this emotive tale takes us to the heart of a young girl’s attempts to come to terms with her own identity and fashion a future for herself from the patchwork of the life she was born into. Beautifully constructed, warm and wise, this is a novel that will transport the reader to a world in which we can all become more of the sum of our parts.
The Old Drift
From a woman covered with hair and another plagued with endless tears, to forbidden love affairs and fiery political ones, to homegrown technological marvels like Afronauts, microdrones and viral vaccines – this gripping, unforgettable novel sweeps over the years and the globe, subverting expectations along the way. Exploding with colour and energy, The Old Drift is a testament to our yearning to create and cross borders, and a meditation on the slow, grand passage of time.
An Elegy for Easterly: Stories
In her spirited debut collection, the Zimbabwean writer Petina Gappah brings us the resilience and inventiveness of the people who struggle to live under Robert Mugabe’s regime. She takes us across the city of Harare, from the townships beset by power cuts to the manicured lawns of privilege and corruption, where wealthy husbands keep their first wives in the “big houses” while their unofficial second wives wait in the “small houses,” hoping for a promotion.
House of Stone
In the chronic turmoil of modern Zimbabwe, Abednego and Agnes Mlambo’s teenage son, Bukhosi, has gone missing, and the Mlambos fear the worst. Their enigmatic lodger, Zamani, seems to be their last, best hope for finding him. Since Bukhosi’s disappearance, Zamani has been preternaturally helpful: hanging missing posters in downtown Bulawayo, handing out fliers to passersby, and joining in family prayer vigils with the flamboyant Reverend Pastor from Agnes’s Blessed Anointings church. It’s almost like Zamani is part of the family…
But almost isn’t nearly enough for Zamani. He ingratiates himself with Agnes and feeds alcoholic Abednego’s addiction, desperate to extract their life stories and steep himself in borrowed family history, as keenly aware as any colonialist or power-mad despot that the one who controls the narrative inherits the future. As Abednego wrestles with the ghosts of his past and Agnes seeks solace in a deep-rooted love, their histories converge and each must confront the past to find their place in a new Zimbabwe.
Pulsing with wit, seduction, and dark humor, House of Stone is a sweeping epic that spans the fall of Rhodesia through Zimbabwe’s turbulent beginnings, exploring the persistence of the oppressed in a young nation seeking an identity, but built on forgetting.
A modern classic in the African literary canon and voted in the Top Ten Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century, this novel brings to the politics of decolonization theory the energy of women’s rights. An extraordinarily well-crafted work, this book is a work of vision. Through its deft negotiation of race, class, gender and cultural change, it dramatizes the ‘nervousness’ of the ‘postcolonial’ conditions that bedevil us still. In Tambu and the women of her family, we African women see ourselves, whether at home or displaced, doing daily battle with our changing world with a mixture of tenacity, bewilderment and grace.
In her accomplished new story collection, Petina Gappah crosses the barriers of class, race, gender and sexual politics in Zimbabwe to explore the causes and effects of crime, and to meditate on the nature of justice. Rotten Row represents a leap in artistry and achievement from the award-winning author of An Elegy for Easterly and The Book of Memory. With compassion and humour, Petina Gappah paints portraits of lives aching for meaning to produce a moving and universal tableau.
The Book of Memory
In The Book of Memory, an albino woman named Memory is languishing in a maximum security prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she has been tried and convicted of murder. As part of her appeal, her lawyer insists that she write down what happened; that is, the events that led to the killing of her adoptive father, Lloyd Hendricks. But who was Lloyd Hendricks? Why does Memory feel no remorse for his death? And did everything happen exactly as she remembers?
Moving between the townships of the poor and the suburbs of the rich, and between past and present, the 2009 Guardian First Book Award–winning writer Petina Gappah weaves a compelling tale of love, obsession, the relentlessness of fate, and the treachery of memory.
The Boy Next Door
In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, there is a tragedy in the house next door to Lindiwe Bishop; her neighbor has been burned alive. The victim’s stepson, Ian McKenzie, is the prime suspect but is soon released. Lindiwe can’t hide her fascination with this young, boisterous and mysterious white man, and they soon forge an unlikely closeness even as the country starts to deteriorate. Years after circumstances split them apart, Ian returns to a much-changed Zimbabwe to see Lindiwe, now a sophisticated, impassioned young woman, and discovers a devastating secret that will alter both of their futures, and draw them closer together even as the world seems bent on keeping them apart. The Boy Next Door is a moving and powerful debut about two people finding themselves and each other in a time of national upheaval.
The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency
This first novel in Alexander McCall Smith’s widely acclaimed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to “help people with problems in their lives.” Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witchdoctors.
The Hairdresser of Harare
Vimbai is the best hairdresser in Mrs. Khumalo’s salon, and she is secure in her status until the handsome, smooth-talking Dumisani shows up one day for work. Despite her resistance, the two become friends, and eventually, Vimbai becomes Dumisani’s landlady. He is as charming as he is deft with the scissors, and Vimbai finds that he means more and more to her. Yet, by novel’s end, the pair’s deepening friendship—used or embraced by Dumisani and Vimbai with different futures in mind—collapses in unexpected brutality.
The novel is an acute portrayal of a rapidly changing Zimbabwe. In addition to Vimbai and Dumisani’s personal development, the book shows us how social concerns shape the lives of everyday people.
We Need New Names
An exciting literary debut: the unflinching and powerful story of a young girl’s journey out of Zimbabwe and to America.
Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo’s belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad.
But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America’s famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few.
Without a Name & Under the Tongue
In Without a Name (1994), Mazvita, a young woman from the country, travels to Harare to escape the war and begin a new life. But her dreams of independence are short-lived. She begins a relationship of convenience and becomes pregnant.
In Under the Tongue (1996), the adolescent Zhizha has lost the will to speak. In lyrical fragments, Vera relates the story of Zhizha’s parents, and the horrifying events that led to her mother’s imprisonment and her father’s death. With this novel Vera became the first Zimbabwean writer ever to deal frankly with incest. With these surprising, at times shocking novels Vera shows herself to be a writer of great potential.
Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter
Written as a letter from a Zimbabwean mother to her daughter, a student at Harvard, J. Nozipo Maraire evokes the moving story of a mother reaching out to her daughter to share the lessons life has taught her and bring the two closer than ever before. Interweaving history and memories, disappointments and dreams, Zenzele tells the tales of Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence and the men and women who shaped it: Zenzele’s father, an outspoken activist lawyer; her aunt, a schoolteacher by day and secret guerrilla fighter by night; and her cousin, a maid and a spy.
Rich with insight, history, and philosophy, Zenzele is a powerful and compelling story that is both revolutionary and revelatory–the story of one life that poignantly speaks of all lives