Africa Reading Challenge

I started reviewing African-authored books on this blog in June 2009, somewhere in 2010 I expanded the focus of the blog to 'Promoting African Literature'. However, for those who know and those who don't, Africa is the second largest and the second most populous continent. Consequently, it is made up of many countries, fifty-four to be specific.

However, in my bid to promote African Literature I have, inadvertently, covered some countries more than others. This has to change. To represent Africa is to represent all the countries. So in addition to my on-going reading challenge, which is to read a selected list of 100 books to be read in 5 years, I would want to read at least an author from each African country in 2011. And this is where I need your help. I would want my readers to suggest interesting authors they have read from other African countries other than those I have listed below. Please help me form this list.

Countries Covered since June 2009:
  1. Alex Agyei-Agyiri (1)
  2. Ama Ata Aidoo (1)
  3. Ama Darko (2)
  4. Ayesha Harruna Attah (1)
  5. Ayi Kwei Armah (4)
  6. Camynta Baezie (1)
  7. Kobina Sekyi (1)
  8. Kojo Laing (1)
  9. Mamle Kabu (1)
  10. Martin Egblewogbe (1)
  11. Marilyn Heward-Mills (1)
  12. Nana Awere Damoah (1)
  13. Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond (1)
  1. Ngugi wa Thiong'o (1)
  1. Morabo Morojele (1)
  1. Ben Okri (1)
  2. Buchi Emecheta (1)
  3. Chimamanda Adichie (3)
  4. Chinua Achebe (3)
  5. Henry Ajumeze (1)
  6. Myne Whitman (1, currently reading)
  7. Ola Rotimi (1)
  8. Uwem Akpan (1)
  9. Wole Soyinka (2)
South Africa
  1. Andre Brink (2)
  2. J.M. Coetzee (2)
  3. Nelson Mandela (1)
  4. Walton Golightly (1)
  1. Tendai Huchu (currently reading)
Countries covered: 6 out of the 54.

As you can see North Africa is not covered. I need your help in building this list.
Update (August 3, 2011): Click here for my progress. A Country is assumed to be effectively covered when a minimum of three different authors are read in that country, though reading one author per country would also be as good enough. The idea with the three is that when I go beyond the three different authors, any other book I read by either one of the already-read authors or a even a new author would not be considered as part of this challenge. This would avoid spending more time on one country.

Update of the Rules(August 17, 2011):
Level One: Read one novel or novella or short-story anthology (but not a short single story or a short story which is a contribution to a multiple-authored anthology) of any author from an African country to take that country out of the challenge.
Level Two: Read two novels or novellas or short-story anthologies or any combination of these (but not two short single stories or two short stories which are contributions to a multiple-authored anthology) of any author from an African country to take that country out of the challenge.
Level Three: Read more than two novels or novellas or short-story anthologies or any combinations of these (but not more than two short single stories or short stories which are contributions to a multiple-authored anthology) of any author from an African country to take that country out of the challenge.

This is a life-long challenge and it is aimed at covering the length and breadth of this continent. It is also meant to prevent people from seeing Literature coming from only one country as representative of African Literature. With 54 countries, the latest being Southern Sudan, it is expected that a reader would have read at least 54 books by the end of this challenge. Books from some countries would be difficult to get so that covering half of the 54 is enough, though spreading it across the North, South, East, West and Central Africa would give the reader a good perspective of what African Literature is and how diverse it is.


  1. I put out a call for Moroccan recommendations last year, with this result. I'm not sure it's too useful. I'm a lot more confident about my Senegalese list.

    Love the blog, by the way - what a lot of good work, and good reading.

  2. What a really great challenge Nana! I might suggest some of the following:

    *For Algeria I'm a huge fan of Assia Djebar
    *For Egypt I would suggest either Nahguib Mahfouz or Ahdaf Soueif
    *Abdulrazak Gurnah for Tanzania
    *Aminatta Forna for Sierra Leone
    *Mariama Ba for Senegal

    They were ones that I really enjoyed anyway!

  3. Nana, I think most of my reading have centered around most of the countries you've read other than that I would have loved to give you some lists. I think your focus to cover widely the African continent is great task. Keep it up.

  4. Try Brian Chikwava, Harare North; Nairobi Heat; The Boy next door by Irene Sabatini, these are from East Africa which I have read recently. Not much from the North myself too.

    ps, I recently finished Wife of the Gods and Hairdresser of Harare, will be doing reviews soon. Lovely books!

  5. Hmmm I thought I had commented but it doesn't seem to have gone through. I would recommend Ahdaf Soueif for Egypt and Assia Djebar for Algeria. Both are really great authors.

  6. I've also been looking at the countries represented in my African reading and I've noticed some glaring omissions that I want to correct. So I will be putting together reading list, particularly on South African, Francophone, Lusophone, Central and Eastern Africa authors. Would gladly share. BTW, have you read Season of Migration to the North by the late Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih? It's one of my favorite African books. Let me know if you can't find a copy and I will dig mine up.

  7. @Amy (1) thanks for your lists. I have Mahfouz's trilogy on my TBR. How to locate the books is the problem now. Thanks for the Algerian writer.

  8. @Geosi, thanks anyway. It means you also have to work at your coverage. lol.

  9. @Myne... Brian Chikwava... I once read The Wasp on the Granta Magazine. I think both Brian and Irene are from Zimbabwe. Irene won the last Orange Prize.

    I would gladly read your review of both books. Currently reading Hairdresser of Harare and A Heart to Mend. Quartey's book I have not even set eyes upon. lol.

  10. @Amy (2)... It came through. thanks for sending it again when you realised it wasn't going through.

  11. @Kinna, I have that book on my list of Top 100 books. I hope to come across it one day. Where did you get your copy? Would check the Legon bookshop

  12. Misham Hatar for Libya maybe just about to read him ,Neshani Andreas from Nambia ,I loved Purple violet ,Alain Mabanckou ,loved his broken glass he is from Congo ,some great suggestions from people ,all the best stu

  13. @wintonsdad, thanks for your great contribution on my literary expedition.

  14. It's sad that many of the great African books that have been written in French haven't been translated. I actually studied cultural anthropology and specialized in African religion and literature. I would really love to recommend books but as said, they are not often translated. I liked Mariama Ba and Ken Bugul, Calixthe Beyala, Camara Laye , Emmanuel B. Dongala, Hampate Ba, and many others. You are doing a great job with this blog. A few other suggestions Malikka Mokkedem for Morocco. Rachid Boudjedra from Algeria, Bessie Head from South Africa.... Some are certainly available in English.

  15. Hi Caroline, I appreciate you taking time off to suggest this list. I am grateful. Yes, most are not translated because African books/literature is not seen with the same eye as works coming from other continents. I wish I could read French then these wouldn't be a bother.

  16. Doreen Baigana (Uganda)
    Mariama Ba (Senegal)
    Makuchi (Cameroon)

  17. Thanks Anonymous. I have read Doreen Baigana's Tropical Fish. Mariam Ba is on my list and Makuchi is new to me.


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