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Favourite books set in Africa

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Initial post: 28 Apr 2009 18:09:05 BDT
Bythewall says:
I seem to have read quite a string of books on Africa, particularly the Congo, and loved them all; eg, Poisonwood Bible, Leopold's Ghosts, Facing the Congo, The Catastrophist (brilliant), My Mother's Lovers (a wonderful diatribe on Africa), and the equisite Guest of Honour, my first Nadine Gordimer. Any other recommendations?

Posted on 28 Apr 2009 18:20:55 BDT
Some non-fiction can be as evocative and truthful as novels: notable recent entries in that canon include Alexandra Fuller's Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight; but also Owen Sheers' The Dust Diaries; or the Polish journalist Ryszard Kapusczinski's essays, culled from decades of reporting the continent, called The Shadow of the Sun.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Apr 2009 18:21:46 BDT
Reader from USA:

You may enjoy the "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" books by Alexander McCall Smith. The protagonist, Mme Precious Ramotswe is a "traditionally built" (full-figured), divorced woman who opens a detective agency in her native Botswana.


Posted on 28 Apr 2009 19:30:56 BDT
One of the best books I've recently read, set in Africa, is Half of a Yellow Sun.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Apr 2009 21:19:45 BDT
Have you read "In The footsteps of Mr Kurtz" ?,

In reply to an earlier post on 1 May 2009 17:40:55 BDT
I would highly recommend anything written by Doris Lessing set in Africa, I am not keen on her science fiction but her books set in Africa are wonderful. They were written many years ago. I first read " The Grass is Singing" and then read the Martha Quest series. Classics!

Posted on 1 May 2009 19:13:28 BDT
Raven says:
Uwen Akpam- Say You're One Of Them- a powerful collection of stories ranging set in 5 African countries. Also Gil Courtemanche- A Sunday At The Pool In Kigali and Ian Holding's excellent novel, Unfeeling. Also if you want to read proper crime fiction set in Africa steer clear of Ladies Detective Agency tosh and read the infinitely better Deon Meyer books...Enjoy!

Posted on 1 May 2009 22:32:51 BDT
D. says:
Ben Okri's The Famished Road is brilliant. (Alas, none of his subsequent books were even half as good.)

Posted on 2 May 2009 12:26:39 BDT
P. Robinson says:
You should definitely try A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson - this is even better than Alexander McCall Smith, a sharply observed and satirical love story set in Nairobi.

Posted on 2 May 2009 13:14:05 BDT
E. Miller says:
Try a new author - Jon Haylett - Cry of the Justice bird or even better, Black Mongoose - real page turners that show an in depth understanding of Africa and great story-telling!

In reply to an earlier post on 2 May 2009 14:45:28 BDT
Maisie says:
If you have not yet discovered Wilbur Smith, start with his first book 'Where/when the lion feeds' Iread this when living in Africa and nearly wept when I came to the last page, but fear not, that was nearly 40 years ago and W.S. is still at it - have just ordered 'Assegi' his latest

Posted on 4 May 2009 11:08:25 BDT
Rebecca says:
Gem Squash Tokoloshe is brilliant - but I wouldn't waste your money on Disgrace by JM Coetzee

In reply to an earlier post on 6 May 2009 11:22:55 BDT
Julie HB says:
Buy Juliet Bressan's new book Entanglement when it comes out - you can pre-order it now on but it's an absolutely brilliant read, part set in Africa among missionary medical students and part set in the life they have after they return...and how the African experience will never let them go. Great story with a shocking twist. You'll love it.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 May 2009 15:44:35 BDT
A. Reader says:
Why not try a post colonial novel such Achebe's Things Fall Apart set in Nigeria, or any other Achebe or the Kenyan set Weep, Not Child by Ngugi. Thoroughly recommend Half a Yellow Sun as someone else has suggested.

Posted on 7 May 2009 10:30:03 BDT
For a great travel read - Paul Theroux The Dark Heart - by train from Cairo to Capetown is brililant and Blood River - By Tim Butcher, a journalist who travels from the source of the Congo river retracing the steps of a famous explorer - absolutely fantastic account of a county on its knees.

Posted on 7 May 2009 12:57:12 BDT
Victoria says:
Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" and Jospeh Conrads Heart of Darkness

Posted on 8 May 2009 16:28:33 BDT
Gemma Booth says:
If you love Africa, especially the Congo i can highly recommend 'Blood River' which is by Tim butcher, a journalist account of him trying to do the same journey as Henry Stanley. It's brilliant; reads more like a novel than a journalistic account. Very interesting as well!

Posted on 8 May 2009 16:54:22 BDT
D. Fields says:
I cannot recommend Wilbur Smith enough! The Burning Shore is just an excellent story. Please give him a try. The stories about the Courtneys are very enjoyable but his one offs are great.

Posted on 10 May 2009 20:06:15 BDT
Bythewall says:
Thank you all for so many good ideas. That should last me a while! I don't know how I forgot to mention Half of a yellow Sun - I loved that. I'll start off with Lessing and Achebe, but they all look good. I also read Boyd#s Brazzaville Beach which I really enjoyed, and another Christopher Hope about when he was young and his mum came home with a new husband - number 3 or 4. I can't find the name anywhere, but I loved it. Anyone read it?

Posted on 10 May 2009 20:25:35 BDT
K. Bignall says:
Masai Dreaming by Justin Cartwright is one of my favourites!

Posted on 10 May 2009 20:37:43 BDT
Bobby Smith says:
How about: One Love Two Colours: the unlikely marriage of a Punk Rocker & his African Queen, by Margaret Oshindele. This is the true life story of how a Nigerian woman can meet, fall in love with and then marry, her English working class punk rocker husband. It also includes accounts of how Margaret was brought up in Nigeria.

Posted on 12 May 2009 21:49:01 BDT
William Boyd's African set novels are a treat especially A good man in Africa.

Posted on 29 Dec 2010 02:36:38 GMT
Rebecca says:
I would need to add serveral
1. The power of one by Bryce Courtenay
2. Tandia by Bryce Courtenay (sequel to above)
3. Hold my hand I`m dying by John Gordon Davis
4. The Sheltering Desert by Henno Martin

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2010 04:43:49 GMT
André Jute says:
Wilbur Smith is the bee's knees.

Also in Southern African thrillers, Deon Meyer is superb on the new South Africa.

And, incidentally, if you saw the Louis Theroux documentary on Johannesburg, the brilliant Austalian novelist Peter Temple, who like me is a South African expatriate, has in the opening chapter(s) of his IN THE EVIL DAY a frighteningly realistic picture of what Johannesburg, once one of my favourite cities, has become. (I had a pad in the Summit Club in Hillbrow when the dancing never stopped and everyone was achingly beautiful; now it is the most dangerous square mile on earth; and I had a house a couple of streets over from the scene in the suburb Temple describes. Absolutely shiver-making realism; those pages make me believe everything else he says.)

Finally, The Seersucker Whipsaw by Ross Thomas is a classic of post-colonial Africa. Despite the wit, it is a tragedy.

André Jute
THE LARSSON SCANDAL the unauthorized guerilla critique
IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth
Author Central pages:

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2010 09:25:16 GMT
Ann M says:
I think No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books are excellent.
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  44
Total posts:  46
Initial post:  28 Apr 2009
Latest post:  5 May 2014

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