Category Archives: African Literature

‘The Great Ugandan Novel’: ‘Kintu’ by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

There are so many barriers to publishing novels, especially novels from less-often heard voices, I always assume that anything that makes it into the bookshops must be pretty exceptional. Even with increasing representation in publishing, there still seem to be … Continue reading

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‘Stay with Me’ by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

‘Stay with Me’ by Ayọbámi Adébáyọ is about so many things it’s hard to know where to begin.  From themes which are generally familiar to UK readers (difficult in-laws, neglected childhood, bereavement and infertility) to issues rarely covered in British fiction … Continue reading

Posted in Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ, Baileys Prize, Nigerian Literature | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Harrowing Memoir of the Rwandan Genocide: ‘Cockroaches’ by Scholastique Mukasonga

There are some books that are hard to review because of the weight of tragedy they contain.  There are also times when it’s hard to recommend books because, no matter how important their subject matter, the more details given, the … Continue reading

Posted in African Literature, Biography, Scholastique Mukasonga | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Enigmatic, and sometimes exasperating: ‘The Famished Road’ by Ben Okri (1991)

I’ve wanted to read ‘The Famished Road’ for simply ages. It always stood out on any bookshelf as a chunky, prize-winning modern classic of post-Colonial literature. Then, as time passed and my to-be-read pile only grew, it seemed like ‘The … Continue reading

Posted in African Literature, Ben Okri, Nigerian Literature | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

A Modern Mapp and Lucia: ‘The Woman Next Door,’ by Yewande Omotoso (2016)

Yewande Omotoso’s latest novel is about two neighbours, both difficult women, both avowed enemies.  We see them in action early on in the novel, as they are members of a local group, the grandly named Katterjin Committee.  Typically, their reasons for joining … Continue reading

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My First Mozambique Novel: ‘The First Wife’ by Paulina Chiziane

I don’t know much about Mozambique, but a recent fact has really stuck in my mind.  Paulina Chiziane (born 1955) is the country’s first published female novelist.  I’m going to write that out once more because it needs to be … Continue reading

Posted in African Literature, Paulina Chiziane, Reading in translation | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Where Outsiders Go: ‘Under the Udala Trees’ by Chinelo Okparanta (2015)

I had heard so much of the success of Okparanta’s ‘Under the Udala Trees’ in America, where it was published last year, that I decided to break my no-book-buying ambition for 2016.  To put this in context, the only other … Continue reading

Posted in Chinelo Okparanta, Nigerian Literature | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

A is for … ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2013)

Out of sequence, but well worth waiting for, I’ve finally read the first title of my diverse reading A-Z (devised as a response to #DiverseDecember in 2015).  At the time, it had felt almost like a cheat, after all, it might … Continue reading

Posted in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian Literature | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

A Book of Love and Violence: ‘The Fishermen’ by Chigozie Obioma (2015)

I don’t like being overly free with the word, but I really can see ‘The Fishermen’ becoming a canonical ‘classic’ novel in the years to come.  The complex treatment of nationhood, language and identity means it’s a novel that demands re-reading.  For … Continue reading

Posted in Booker Prize 2015, Chigozie Obioma, Nigerian Literature | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments