If you’re an avid reader, and you’ve looking for books to add your October reading list well lucky you cause we’ve come up with an awesome list of five books by African writers that should totally be on your reading list.
The Old Drift – by Namwali Serpell
To describe The Old Drift by Zambia-born writer Namawali Serpell would require an article in itself. So vast is this epic masterpiece that it is impossible to do it justice in just a few words. It brings together history, drama, fantasy and folklore spanning time, locations and generations. The book begins with the buzz of mosquitoes and then the words: “This is the story of a nation – not a kingdom or a people – so it begins, of course, with a white man.” Starting in pre-colonial Zambia and ending in an imagined, somewhat dystopian future, The Old Drift tells the story of three families while simultaneously unearthing decades of exploitation which began with colonialism and has continued ever since. Very rarely do novels like this come around. Over 560 pages of pure pleasure.
Travellers – by Helon Habila
Barely a day goes by without headlines and media reports about refugees and the “migrant crisis”. Much of the coverage has dehumanised the people given these labels. They are a problem to be solved, or simply a statistic. Thus award-winning writer Helon Habila’s latest novel is pertinent right now. His nameless Nigerian narrator has moved to Berlin with his American wife. This was to be a “break from our breaking-apart life”. In Berlin, his path crosses with fellow Africans: Mark, a film student from Malawi; Karim, the man on the train, who had no choice but to leave Somalia in order to save his daughter from being forced into marriage; Manu, a Libyan surgeon, waiting for his wife and daughter to arrive, hoping they haven’t been lost in the perilous journey across the sea. In Travellers, Helon Habila has outdone himself, giving his characters the dignity which the media often fails to.
Transparent City – by Ondjaki
One of the few Angolan novels to be translated into English, Transparent City is set in an apartment block in Luanda, home to an array of characters, all navigating the realities of being part of Angola’s “underclass”. Central to the story is one man’s search for his son. As he wanders in the hope of locating him, he also grapples with how much his beloved Luanda has changed.
My Sister the Serial Killer – by Onyinkan Braithwaite
The first line of this hugely entertaining book will have you hooked: “Ayoola is beautiful, carefree and exciting, she also has this tendency to… murder her boyfriends.” This is not a crime novel, neither is it a mystery. The real story which forms its centre is the relationship between sisters and the wider family. Set in Lagos, this is a dark, compelling and humorous must-read.
The Blessed Girl – by Angela Makholwa
Meet 24-year-old Bontle Towe, of exceptional beauty, luscious lips (her own words), two businesses, a penthouse in Johannesburg, a convertible, designer items and a “PhD in Mencology”. In this fast-paced book, Angela Makholwa explores the concept of sugar daddies or “Blessers”. There are many laugh-out-loud moments as Bontle juggles her three sugar daddies alongside her “do-gooder” ex-husband while living the high life. Yet delve deeper and we see she is a troubled character. This is where Makholwa triumphs, for what seems like a fun and frothy read on the surface unveils the sinister realities that are part of the “Blesser” phenomenon.
By: Dammy Eneli
Photo Credit: African Arguments