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Sunday, January 05, 2014

A (Possibly Evolving) List of Great Novels by African Writers -- for @jmmcdermott

I've been commanded by Lord McDermott to put together a list of great novels by African writers so he'd have some stuff to read.  And that's exactly what I've done.

I've intentionally chucked out the books everyone has likely read, such as Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (I know for a fact that Mr. McDermott has read this one, so that's an easy task).

In no particular order, here are the novels (a very VERY short list):
Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe
Ambiguous Adventure by Cheikh Hamidou Kane
Devil on the Cross OR The River Between by Ngugi wa Thiong'o (Matagari is also excellent)
The Famished Road OR Songs of Enchantment by Ben Okri
Waiting for the Barbarians OR The Lives of Animals OR Disgrace OR Foe by J.M. Coetzee
July's People by Nadine Gordimer
Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
Purple Hibiscus OR Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In the Fog of the Seasons' End by Alex La Guma
Houseboy by Ferdinand Oyono
The Dark Child by Camara Laye
One Day I Will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina (a memoir, not a novel, but oh well)
Bound to Violence by Yambo Ouologuem


Note:  I have enormous gaps in my reading knowledge of African writers.  You'll notice that there are no writers from places like Egypt, for example, or some of the interior nations.  Anyone who would like to suggest novels by writers from these missing countries is encouraged to do so in the comments below!

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  1. Here are a few more:

    Nawal el Saadawi (Egypt) , Woman at Point Zero

    Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt), Cairo Trilogy

    Mia Couto (Mozambique), Last Flight of the Flamingo

    Pepetela (Angola), Mayombe

    Kofi Awoonor (Ghana), The Promise of Hope (poetry collection, out in March)

    Tayeb Salih (Sudan), Season of Migration to the North

    Olympe Bhêly-Quénum (Benin), Snares Without End (only one of his to be translated into English as far as I know; Le Chant du Lac is excellent, if you can read French)

    Tahar ben Jelloun (Morocco/France), The Sacred Night

    Assia Djebar (Algeria), Fantasia

    Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), pretty much any of his plays or poetry collections, only wrote two novels

    And those are the ones that come to mind immediately. Will have to look through my books to see what others I have.

  2. This is the Internet being used as a force for good. Thank you!

  3. This is the Internet being used as a force for good. Thank you!