Feast on the best novels about Africa.
Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006)“Among the Igbo the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.” ― Chinua Achebe, Written by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun was published in 2006 by Knopf/Anchor. A novel about Africa, Half of a Yellow Sun specifically tells the story of the activities that took place in the Biafran War. Conflicts between the Hausa and Igbo people resulted in massacres and food shortages. The author uses the characters Olanna, Ugwu and Richard to share how the civil war affected individuals, families and relationships.
Disgrace, J M Coetzee (1999)Disgrace is a novel written by J.M. Coetzee and published in 1999. One of the best novels about Africa, Disgrace earned him the Booker Prize and a Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003. The novel tells the story of David Lurie’s fall from grace in post-apartheid South Africa. Disgrace serves well as an echo of what was currently happening in South Africa. Lurie, by all intents and purposes, rapes one of his students and then when confronted is quite unrepentant. He is fired from his lecturing position at the university. He then moves to the countryside to live with his lesbian daughter. While living in the countryside, his daughter becomes the victim of three attackers, one of whom rapes her. The book ends with Lurie seeking forgiveness from the student he raped.
Cry, the Beloved Country, Alan Paton (1948)Written by Alan Patton, the novel Cry, the Beloved Country was published in 1948. American publisher Bennett Cerf acknowledged Cry, the Beloved Country as one of the best novels about African when he listed the book as one of three novels worth reading in the year 1948. In the novel, Reverend Stephen Kumalo travels from his rural village to the city of Johannesburg. In Johannesburg, he convinces his sister who is a prostitute to move back to the village before he begins to search for his son. While searching for his son Absalom, he comes face to face with the racism and wide gap that exists between the rich and the poor. The novel serves to highlight the rigid social structures that existed in South Africa.
The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)The Poisonwood Bible is one of the best novels about Africa. Written by Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible became a bestseller after its publication in 1998. The novel traces the lives of a missionary family as they move from the US to a village in the Belgian Congo. The events show their transition and how they adjust to the new changes wrought by the move.
My Traitor’s Heart, Rian Malan (1990)My Traitor’s Heart is an autobiography that details Malan life in South Africa during the Apartheid-era. The book’s subtitle is South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe and His Conscience or Blood and Bad Dreams: A South African Exile Explores the Madness in His Country, His Tribe and Himself. He also reflects on his family's history. He is from a prominent Afrikaner family that came to the Cape in the 17th century. His family also includes Daniel Francois Malan.
A Bend in the River, VS Naipaul (1979)A Bend in the River is a 1979 novel by Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul. The Modern Library, in 1998, ranked the novel #83 on its list of the 100 best English language novels of the 20th century. One of the best books about Africa, A Bend in the River has received much literary acclaim.
Salim, an Indian Muslim, moves from his home in East Africa to the interior of Africa. He narrates the changes that take place in the town as the town grapples to gain its own footing after receiving independence.