The Reign Reads: African Literature
This time around we want to nourish our souls with self-care, introspection, and the tumultuous fabric of different African cultures. So when we’re not exploring foreign landscapes abroad, watching Game of Thrones or responding to the latest summer scandal on Twitter (because there’s always at least one), here are a few books we’ll be diving into:
Homegoing was published June 2016 as Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel. It follows the stories of different descendents of an enslaved Asante woman, Maame, beginning with her two daughters who were separated during Maame’s escape. The novel illustrates the effects of slavery as one daughter marries an Englishman and lives a lavish life in a castle while the other is captured and imprisoned in the very same place her estranged sister called home. An important reflection of the impact of slavery on both those who were taken and those who stayed behind, this is a book we can't wait to dive into.
(Penguin Random House, Wikipedia)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s first novel, Purple Hibiscus (2003) is based in post-colonial Africa as it follows the story of a teenager, Kambili Achike, dealing with violence and strict Catholicism in her home. The novel has won several awards including a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award in 2004. (Wikipedia)
SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM
Say You’re One of Them (2008) is a collection of 5 short stories focused on children of Africa, including Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria and Ethiopia, in different struggles. This novel by Uwem Akpan has won several awards such as the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the PEN Open Book Award and was selected by the Oprah Winfrey Book Club in 2009. (Wikipedia)
ONAEDO: THE BLACKSMITH'S DAUGHTER
This novel by Ngozi Achebe follows the story of an American woman, Maxine, who is Nigerian and white as she tries to connect with Nigerian father. She finds a diary and reads story of a young woman, Onaedo, in the midst of the onerous age of Portuguese discovery. Onaedo: The Blacksmith’s Daughter was published in 2010. (Amazon)
SO LONG A LETTER
Originally written in French by Mariama Ba, So Long a Letter (1979) is an account given by a recent widow named Ramatoulaye Fall to her closest friend. Several topics are touched on in the novel including the life of women in Senegal after colonialism (1970’s and 1980’s), the effects of Islam in Ramatoulaye’s community, and family life. In 1980, the novel won the Noma Prize for Publishing in Africa. (Wikipedia)
WE NEED NEW NAMES
We Need New Names was written by NoViolet Bulawayo and published in 2013. It is about the growth of a young girl named Darling who grows up in Zimbabwe but then moves to the United States Midwest to live with her aunt. In 2011, the first chapter of the book won the Caine Prize for African Writing as it was originally submitted as a short story in the Boston Review. (Wikipedia, Boston Review)
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.
In “Who Will Greet You at Home,” a National Magazine Award finalist for The New Yorker, A woman desperate for a child weaves one out of hair, with unsettling results. In “Wild,” a disastrous night out shifts a teenager and her Nigerian cousin onto uneasy common ground. In “The Future Looks Good,” three generations of women are haunted by the ghosts of war, while in “Light,” a father struggles to protect and empower the daughter he loves. And in the title story, in a world ravaged by flood and riven by class, experts have discovered how to “fix the equation of a person” – with rippling, unforeseen repercussions.
(Penguin Random House)
What are you reading this summer? Let us know in the comments!