Thursday, September 23, 2010

37-39. Non-African Books I have Read this Year

This blog is aimed at promoting African Literature. Consequently, all interviews, reviews, events, and profiles concern African authors, published or unpublished. However, a suggestion was made that once a while I let others in on non-African authored books I have been reading and so to resolve this, I tried conducting a poll. Unfortunately, the question got lost in the dark background of the blog and there was no way I could edit it.

What I am doing today is to also solicit your views concerning the inclusion of non-African authored books. The reasoning behind this blog is simple. I have read a lot of book blogs and almost always, about ninety-nine percent of what they read, reviewed or talked about were Western books. Only a few book bloggers profiled  authored by Africans and even then the usual authors comprising Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Ben Okri and recently Chimamanda were the most discussed books. So I decided to use this blog to fill that gap, blogging for a niche readers, those ready to know about Africa's literary folks, up and coming and those already established.

Initially, I was scared of not having much to talk about. And I am glad to say that I was wrong to be scared. New books are published on daily basis by Africans, and if one wants to talk about then, one would publish a blog a day. However, like most of you, I also keep a 8am to 5pm job; hence my inability to reach out fully.

So for those who want to know what I do read in addition my African books, today I present those non-African authored books I have read this year, not much though considering the fact that my readings this year has severely been affected. Last year September I read 8 books, whilst keeping an 8-5 job; this year I have read only two or three. However, this post would not be frequent because I don't want to risk populating this blog with non-African authored books; I don't want to fall under the Western literature spell; I don't want to lose sight of my vision for this blog. So books presented here would not be reviewed, I would only talk about them. Matter of semantics? Wait and see!

99. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
My followers on twitter would know how much I loved this book. The simple reason is that I enjoyed the vision of Atwood and it reflected mine. I have always talked to friends about my fear of Science. Not as a subject but the misapplication of its boundary-pushing researches and findings. Like nanotechnology, like artificial intelligence, like anti-matter, like DNA splicing and many others. I am afraid that humans would be the cause of their own extinction and that if I were God, I would create no Hell for man, with time, would annihilate itself. We are more than capable. What haven't we done with the Nuclear bombs? Baghdad, Kabul, Vietnam, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are all there for us to see.

100. Possession by A.S. Byatt
This book was too academic and again, my followers on facebook and twitter would know that I abandoned this book and picked it up again. Its abandonment is not a result of disinterest but the difficulty in penetrating certain sections. The overall story is interesting, yet it is too academic and draws a lot of attention to the writer. It makes you always realise that there is someone writing something. Besides, I didn't like the small fonts. It makes reading tedious. What about the reading of long diary entries? I hated them. Sometimes you lost yourself. The poems were way beyond my comprehension. However, I love the use of diary entries in the telling of the lives of Randolph Ash and Christian Lamotte and the parallels it draws with Roland and Maud. Byatt reached for much and came with a work too academic. Yet, I rushed to look for Randolph Ash only to realise that it is a fictional creation of Byatt. Why wouldn't I congratulate her then?

101. A House for Mr. Biswas by V.S. Naipaul
Alright so this is the last of Naipaul's books I would ever read and thank God I have none unread in my shelf. The other only other book I read was A Bend in the River. This book is dystopian; very depressing. I wonder how fun could be created from a life so dejected. What I never understood was how Mr. Biswas couldn't make himself happy from the academic performance of Anand. The character of Mr. Biswas is one of depression filled with the I-can-do-nothing behaviour. Always blaming someone. I think his wife was also too attached to her parents; never wanting anything his other sisters don't yet have. Everything Mr. Biswas tried doing was causing her shame, especially if her other sisters don't already have it. I was bored to the core. I really didn't like any of them but I sympathised most often with Mr. Biswas. I also like his gradual upgrade in life and had it not been his fear of absolute progress, partially fortified and entrenched by Shama, his wife, he would have made a big impact. And for him to die shows the extent of Naipaul's love for depression. 

Dear readers, kindly let me know what you think: Should this be a quarterly affair or should I drop it?


  1. I love the focus on African literature because you are right - it does get missed a lot. It's fun to see what else you've tried though as well :)

  2. I loved reading your thoughts on this as well. Never read Naipaul but I love Atwood.

  3. @Amy thanks. The focus will not shift. It is African Literature through and through.

  4. @Myne Once a while I will slip this in. Perhaps quarterly and since my reading has dipped I don't think there would be much to talk about.

  5. Hey! Proud of you. You keep pushing the african agenda forward. Focus! Focus all the way!

  6. @Geoffrey... thanks. No given up. Don't worry.

  7. You know what I'd say so why should I say. Africa. Make the 'others' once a year and when you get bored or feel lazy, quarterly.

  8. I say keep this quarterly feature because i like it. A nice change-up for your usual focus, which you do cover so well. It will not draw attention away from the African books that you discuss.

    The only Naipaul book that I've read is Mr. biswas and that was more than enough of the signature Naipaul hatefulness. A pity about Possession, it's one of my all-time favorite books. I do understand your frustration with it though. I have not read Oyrx abd Crake but Ms. Atwood never disappoints.

    Thanks for the review. Oh, the format is also good.

  9. I like knowing what elseyou're reading and I'd love to see you continue doing these once in a while, but I love that you focus on African literature so much. You're the only blogger I know with this speciality and I learn a lot from your posts!

  10. @NYA, So I would keep it on semi-annual basis, if I have read enough and annually if not. Thanks

  11. @Kinna, thanks. I would once a while write something about them. To let others know about what I am reading and how far I'm faring on my Top 100, which looks to be increasing rather than decreasing in length. lol.

    With respect to Naipaul, Mr. Biswas is the calmest you can get.

  12. @Marie, I would let you know and still keep my focus on African Literature. I am glad you have realised that there is a dearth of it on blogs.

  13. My advice is do write and do read whatever you feel like. But yes, focusing on African literature is great.


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