West Africa has a long literary tradition and is home to many of the literary giants from the continent. This is the first in a series of reading lists for those of you who want to expand your knowledge on African culture, history, politics and traditions. I hope you enjoy and learn something new!
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Things Fall Apart is a best-selling classic and an essential read for everyone. The first book in Achebe’s African trilogy, it gives an insight into a pre-colonial society in an Igbo town and the breakdown of traditional society with the arrival of European colonists.
This book follows the main character Sissie’s journey, travelling from Ghana to Europe on a scholarship. Our Sister Killjoy discusses the impact of colonialism, the African diaspora and the realities of migration as an African woman.
Set against the backdrop of 1930’s colonial Nigeria, The Joys Of Motherhood details the struggles of an Igbo woman who tries to navigate the societal pressures of motherhood and womanhood.
A satirical novel by the notable author and filmmaker Ousmane Sembène, Xala explores themes of polygamy and power dynamics in ‘post-colonial’ Senegal.
A multi-generational tale, Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing takes us on a 300-year journey, following two half-sisters whose bloodline is torn apart by enslavement. The book tells the chronological stories of their descendants in both the US and Ghana while outlining the horrors and lasting impact of Transatlantic Slavery.
The debut novel from Peace Adzo Medie, His Only wife tells the story of Afi, a seamstress living in a small town who gets a proposal from a man from a wealthy family. At first, it sounds like a great opportunity but there is much more to the situation than meets the eye.
A semi-autobiographical story about a French-Ivorian woman who travels back to Ivory Coast after learning of her father’s sudden death. The book follows her journey to understanding her father’s life as she reconciles with the fact that she may not have known her father as well as she thought.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of A yellow sun takes place in 1960’s Nigeria. It’s a tale about love, the horrors of war and the lives of twin sisters Olanna and Kainene during the Biafra war.
A story based on Yoruba folktales, Amos Tutuola’s Palm-Wine Drinkard tells the story of a man’s adventures travelling between worlds in his search for his Palm wine tapper.
Aya is a graphic novel series by Ivorian author Marguerite Abouet. Set in 1970’s Ivory Coast this funny book is an account of love, friendship and every day life of a teenage girl in YOP city.
An insight into the complex lives of Baba Segi’s wives. The story follows four women who are married to Baba Segi, a patriarch businessman whose seemingly tight grip on his family gradually unfolds. When he marries his fourth wife Bolanle, the cracks in the Segi family’s fragile facade begin to show.
When a young couple are unable to conceive, they are faced with increasing familial and societal pressure that threatens the strength of their marriage. Stay with me is a harrowing and emotional tale about Yejide and Akin’s difficult journey to parenthood.
Told by griots and passed down orally through generations, Sundiata is an ancient story about the first ruler of Mali.
Taiye Selasi’s first novel follows the story of a Nigerian-Ghanaian family, who were broken apart by their father’s decision to abandon the family, as they return from the US to Ghana when he dies suddenly.
After leaving Cameroon for the US, Jende Jonga navigates a new world while working as a chauffeur for a wealthy family to support his wife and son. With the collapse of the Lehman Brothers, his employer’s secrets begin to be revealed, destroying the security of both couple’s lives.
Have you read any of these books? If you have I’d love to know what you thought of them, comment below!