Initially, I appended this to the Year in Review post; however, upon further thought I've decided to make it a whole post on its own. It made the other post too long and detracted from it. I have already shared what some friends of mine think were their favourite books of 2012. This year saw me read some famous books like Great Gatsby, Bluest Eyes, July's People, A Farewell to Arms, and many others. My favourite reads of 2012 are:
- The Book Thief by Mark Zusak. Mark Zusak in this book brings out how infernal the human mind could be and the frailty of friendship. The book's protagonist was Death and how he empathised with humanity has he was forced to pick destroyed souls from one suburb to the other. The book was also written from the point-of-view of a young girl, Liesel Meminger.
- Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. This book shows the psychological effects of slavery and segregation in America and all over the world. When one's culture is suppressed, degraded and his identity is used as a mark of inferiority requiring only derogatory and slavish treatment, one's psyche is tempered with and he or she becomes haters of himself or herself. This is what The Bluest Eye is about.
- The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. This book is a critique of America's, and by extension the world's, contemporary culture. It dissects and make bear our love for wealth over humanity. It shows our displaced values where people prefer shares on the stock market to shares in the lives of their families.
- Blindness by Jose Saramago. Blindness shows how the human would behave if he lacks knowledge and vision and also how visionary leaders and followers are important for progress and development in the life of a country.
Honourable mentions are: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, for its transitions and detailed descriptions; Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson, for its comedy and social commentary; Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner, for its ability to excavate from the pits of Hades the evilness of the human heart; White Teeth by Zadie Smith for the boldness and broadness of its themes; and Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman by Dorothy Sterling for the inspiration it offers.
- Rachid Boudjedra's Repudiation. This is book captures change and repudiation in a bold manner. It was banned in the author's home country of Algeria because of its blatant expose of certain inimical traditions that has been tagged 'religious'. It also shows blind belief can lead to developmental retrogression.
- The Famished Road by Ben Okri. The magical realism, the integration between the spiritual and physical worlds, the beauty of the prose are the things that endeared The Famished Road to me. Okri took advantage of African's expansive belief to write a such a perfect novel.
- The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer. Nadine is not an authority of apartheid South Africa literature for nothing. In this book she shows how the love for the farm supersedes the love for the native South African. However, she even showed something more interesting. Whereas White South African farmers could leave and go to other places, the natives know they own the land and do not worry much about who would inherit what. The natives could be displaced but their belief in the land and love for it could not be displaced; on the other hand, the white farmers had to ensure that their children would love to work on it. This marked my journey into Gordimer.
- In Steve Biko's I Write What I Like we get to know what moves the man to do the great and daring things he did so that even at such a young age of just over thirty, which he died, he was already a hero. In this book, Biko showed how Africans must fashion for themselves the tools required for their progress and development; he showed that those who wield power would not just give it up and it would require the use of our combined energy to wrestle it from them. It cannot be said that all he envisioned and wanted for Azania had been achieved even after apartheid. I believe Biko is a greater man.
- Ken Saro-Wiwa's A Month and a Day & Letters shows how wicked rulers can be to their own people and how silent complicity does nothing to abate the nefariousness of a rabid military junta. This being the last book by the Environmentalist and Human Rights activist before he was hanged, it showed the torment he went through in his last days. How, people in authority, in complicity with the government, hanged an innocent man and eight of his friends against the appeals of the international community. Recent report shows it was done to show that the government of the day, led by his infernal highness General Sani Abacha, was not afraid of anybody. The role of multinational corporations such as Shell in the murder was also discussed. Again, in some strange way, Shell's behaviour is akin to what Franzen discussed in The Corrections - love of wealth over human lives.
- If I'm pushed to pick one book that made 2012 such a memorable reading year, it will be the last book I read in that year - Kojo Laing's Search Sweet Country. That book represents everything I love in novels: experimentation, going beyond the ordinary, throwing away rules and being unique.
Honourable mentions include: Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz for its beautiful prose and exotic scenery (setting); and Kofi Anyidoho's The Place We Call Home and Other Poems for its masterful delivery.