Great African Reads

LITERARY GEMS 

There is no shortage of literary gems coming from the dark continent - biographies, novels, short stories, historical accounts, anthologies.   Picking just 6 titles is near impossible...  So the ones below are more a summarised smorgasbord of all the great titles covering Africa, her warts and all (hover over each title for more and for links to online purchases).

 

For a more comprehensive list of top African reads in preparation for, or to accompany your next safari - you can also refer to one of the BETTER ARTICLES out there on the subject... 

Longing for Darkness - Kamante
Longing for Darkness - Kamante

When I first came across this gem from Karen Blixen's majordomo, it made my year... never before nor since has the silly mazungu's exploits in Africa been so lovingly & creatively captured quite as well. Simple & naive in all the best senses, with some great Peter Beard photography, try get this one for your coffee table back home...

Long Walk to Freedom
Long Walk to Freedom

My #1 choice of books about Africa - not because of emotional reasons, nor because I think the man was a legend in every way, but because it really should (as the cover says) be read by every person alive... 'nuff said

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

This selection covers the whole series of these light-hearted & sweet rooibos-infused books about Mma Ramotswe & the goings on at her detective agency. Alexander McCall Smith's books provide some easy reading for your travels & such a breath of fresh air considering all the serious & depressing books on Africa these days...

The Scramble for Africa
The Scramble for Africa

Thomas Pakenham (he of Boer War & Meetings with Remarkable Trees fame) writes arguably the most detailed & most enjoyable account yet of the period 1880-1914 when Africa was the plaything of a handful of powerful Europeans. All you ever need to know about how colonial Africa was created & why it was (often) such a mess...

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

Alexandra Fuller writes a moving coming-of-age story about her own wonder years growing up in Zimbabwe/Rhodesia. A close tie with Peter Godwin's Mukiwa, which tells a similar tale from a male perspective... get both & enjoy! Also check out both authors' follow up books (3 from each)

The Wonder Safaris by Adam Levin
The Wonder Safaris by Adam Levin

My selection bolter...relatively unknown but brilliant series of shorts that capture the magic & wonder of Africa's darker spots - Africa unveiled by an author using beautiful imagery & phrasing...