Recently in African novels and stories Category

Unbeknownst to me... here's the link to the Big Read Egypt/U.S. I just finished the book and was looking for an image for the blog. What a great choice. It's an interesting novella, certainly for 1961 it must have been remarkable... a stream of consciousness attempt to get inside the mind of Said Mahran, a thief turned murderer.... a shade of Dostoevsky, perhaps? Not as clear, but still really interesting.

African children's books links

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South African Children's Book Forum

Children's Literature Research Unitat the University of South Africa

This last link to the Noma Award is especially relevant to my earlier posting about the Japanese movie Always Sunset -2. So there is an award... I stand corrected! And the 2007 winner sounds great.

Reading Across the Continents...

A program sponsored by the International Reading Association, puts students in Washington DC in contact with students in Nigeria and Ghana, reading common books and discussing. I don't want to toot my own horn, but Catherine Montfort and I did a project like this for two years with students in Burkina Faso and Santa Clara University. The logistics back then, in the early days of the Internet, were cumbersome. Just setting up a Yahoogroups was a job and a half! Things are definitely easier now... and cybercafes are plentiful in Africa. I'll be curous to see how the obviously well-funded attempt fares. They are reading Copper Sun and Purple Hibiscus
[In French] Here's a nice interview from Africultures with Léonora Miano, whose new book, Afropean Soul et autres nouvelles, just appeared Flammarion, coll. "Étonnants Classiques", 2008.
Question: Une opposition symbolique forte entre ombre et lumière parcourt votre trilogie romanesque composée de L'Intérieur de la nuit, Les Aubes écarlates et Contours du jour qui vient, ainsi que votre dernier roman, Tels des astres éteints : quelles sont selon vous les ombres qui menacent l'humanité aujourd'hui ? Où trouver de quoi vaincre les ténèbres ?
L'ombre qui nous menace et qui se décline sous diverses formes est notre incapacité à considérer l'humanité comme une et indivisible. Nous refusons de nous reconnaître les uns dans les autres. D'où les nationalismes, le terrorisme, les fondamentalismes, tous ces processus fascisants que nous ne cessons de légitimer. Je n'ai pas la réponse, pour vaincre les ténèbres. Ce dont je suis certaine, c'est que le Mal n'existe que pour être combattu. Refuser de se soumettre peut être un bon début.

A friend recommends...

The excellent graphic novel Aya from Ivory Coast. Here's an interview from Bookslut (?) with the author, Marguerite Abouet.

A FAVL friend writes...

I came across information suggesting the Howard University library in D.C. has some expertise in the area of French-language literature related to Africa. So I contacted them asking for information about relevant books that my son might try to find for his library project. I heard back from Mr. Mohamed Mekkawi, Director of Libraries for Howard University. I’ve pasted below the relevant information he sent me. Your organization may be familiar with these resources and with Mr. Mekkawi, but if any of it is new information and useful to FAVL, that would be gratifying.

Lisons tous, Vol 1.

Lison tous, Vol 2.

You'll also find a whole list of African French language books with illustrations--good material for beginners in this language.

I also suggest browsing my website "French Connection" for additional materials, esp under the rubric "Franchphonie":

Mekkawi, Mohamed, M.A.

Director of Libraries, Howard University

Why not search "fairytale novel nigeria"?

An interesting Nigerian-American author pops up!
Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu was born in the United States to two Igbo (Nigerian) immigrant parents. She holds a PhD in English and is a professor at Chicago State University. ....
Read more at her website
Why search for that and see what you can find? It's more likely to get a hit than "Fairytale novel Nigeria"? (Well, no it isn't really; see tomorrow's post.) It did work: the first link led me to a nice review of a novel and writer I had not previously heard of, at, an interesting website in its own right.
Abdulrazak Gurnah – "Pilgrim's Way"
As Foreign as a Drop of Oil in Water

In his novel Pilgrim's Way, Abdulrazak Gurnah, two-time Booker Prize nominee and native of Zanzibar, writes about migrants and their foreignness. The book is an angry postcolonial "coming to terms" with society. Review by Jan Valk
photo: British CouncilAbdulrazak Gurnah
There are different forms of foreignness. There is the foreignness of the newcomer – of one who has yet to familiarize himself with a new environment. And then there is the foreignness of a drop of oil in a pail of water. This is more than a temporary state. It is the true existential form of foreignness: something insoluble.

What is the What

If you are looking for a novel set in Africa that is actually closer to a true story, then I definitely recommend Eggers book published last year. I am going to lead several discussions about the current political situation in Sudan for some San Mateo County libraries (under the San Mateo County Reads program) and am looking forward to sharing impressions about the book. My first impression, which I had before I even read What is the What, was that Cormac McCarthy's The Road was actually a sly way to make people think about the experiences of the Sudanese and Rwandans... however horrific the slog was in The Road (grim I thought as I unbearably kept reading it) the real-life slog of people out of the atrocious violence in Sudan and Rwanda was every bit its equal. And unlike The Road's glimmer of a happy ending, for most people in Kakuma, Congo, and elsewhere the was no happy ending and they continue to live grim lives. So if that doesn't get you interested in reading the book what will?

Chris Abani in Voices in Wartime

A nice short video featuring a couple poems set during the Biafra civil war. Abani has a new novel called Song for Night.


Books, reading, and libraries relevant to Africa by Michael Kevane, co-Director of FAVL and economist at Santa Clara University.

Other contributors include Kate Parry, FAVL-East Africa director, FAVL Burkina Faso representative Koura Donkoui, FAVL Burkina Faso program manager Krystle Nanema, and FAVL friends Emilie Crofton and Elisee Sare.

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