MUST-READ BOOKS WRITTEN BY AFRICAN WOMEN

Like I promised in this post, here is a compilation of must-read books written by African women. This list is no particular order and is definitely in exhaustive because Africa has a wealth of wonderful writers.  

Without further ado, here are five must-read books by African women:

  1. News From Home by SEFFI ATTAH

“News from Home is a collection of interesting stories (although some seem to end abruptly)- all covering different issues but interconnected by the characters’ level of displacement; they are all in situations they are forced into by circumstances they would rather avoid if their lives were better. The start of each story is poetic is- one is glued to the story from the opening sentence.  For example, in Hailstones on Zamfara (a woman accused of adultery is sentenced to death under the Shariah law) the opening line goes like this “On the day I die, I will rise up, arms outstretched, magnificent as the mother of the Holy prophet, then my executioner’s will be forced to admit, ‘we were wrong, we should have revered you more’”.  The author’s tone of writing cannot be ignored, she writes like one who has lived with each and every character revealed in the stories. The characters are conflicting and incompatible but each has a decision in their own fate, even when they decide to do nothing about their challenges.”

-Taken from africabookclub.com

2. Night Dancer by CHIKA UNIGWE

“Written in three parts, Chika Unigwe tells a beautiful story, which reveals what happened, why everything is the way it is and why every character in the book did what they did. It starts in 2001, after Ezi’s death, and concentrates on Mma’s very negative feelings and hatred towards her mother. From Mma’s point of view we see what being raised by a proud single mother did to her childhood and how it affected Mma’s life. When Mma starts reading Ezi’s letters, or her ‘memoirs’, Mma finds out the truth about her mother, her past life and why she did what she did. Her mother’s letters also leads Mma to be reunited with the family she never knew she had – grandfather, uncles, aunts, father. It then goes back to 1960 where we find out what exactly happened to make Ezi leave her husband Mike, and raise their daughter Mma on her own. And it comes back to 2002 when Mma eventually meets her father, Mike, and begins to change her mind about her mother. In these three parts, we hear both Ezi and Mma voices.”

-Taken from bookshybooks.com

 3. Still by ENIOLA PRENTICE

“The book deals with mental illness, crime, sexual abuse, alcoholism and gives a really good look into what it is like to be a medical student. So many different characters brought to one place for different reasons, all with their ambitions and burdens, making life long friendships and experiencing crushes and heartaches… It was definitely an interesting story. No boring moment.”

-Taken from ufuomaee.blog

The Sequel to this book, ‘Mercy’ is now out. I think it’s available on Okadabooks, Bambooks and Amazon. At least those are the places I have seen it for now.

4. Freshwater by AKWAEKE AMEZI

Akwaeke Amezi is actually a nonbinary writer, I included their book in this list because, it was what inspired me to compile this list, from my previous blog post.

“The bold premise of Akwaeke Emezi’s debut novel is that it is primarily narrated not by Ada – the girl whose coming-of-age tale is at this novel’s centre – but from the perspective of multiple deities and cosmic forces that inhabit her. Ada, the daughter of Saul, a Nigerian Catholic doctor, and Saachi, a Malaysian nurse, is an ogbanje, a child spirit destined to be born and die multiple times and a child of Ala, an Igbo deity. As such, she doesn’t exist as a singular individual, but as a plurality of selves encased within one being.”

“…Ada experiences many issues which other novels might expand upon in great detail such as self-harm, sexual abuse, an eating disorder, suicidal tendencies, bisexuality and being transgendered. However, rather than view these as conditions which need counselling or treatment, the narrative lists them as effects that arise out of Ada being inhabited by multiple spirits. This may frustrate readers who aren’t accustomed with considering issues in this way or having them treated so glancingly.

Ada’s development is centered more on her being able to accept and coexist with these entities rather than seeking to suppress, ignore or dismiss them. The novel traces how she names these spirits which inhabit her and adopts different identity labels which best suit her because:

“When you name something, it comes into existence-did you know that? There is strength there, bone-white power injected in a rush, like a trembling drug.”

-Taken from openlettersreview.com

5.  Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

“Ayobami Adebayo’s debut novel, Stay with Me, begins in the midst of Nigeria’s political turmoil in the 1980s. The book tells the story of Yejide and Akin, a couple who will do anything to have a child — including trying to find love with others.

“They live in a society where having children validates not just the individual but the marriage itself,” Adebayo explains.”

-Taken from npr.org

I have read all the books on this list and I can assure you that these books would be worthy of every single second you spend reading them. I intend to give you ten must-books, so let’s consider this the first half of the list, next week, I’ll bring you the second half.

Thank you for reading this post, please tell what you think about these books, if you have read them and please suggest books by African authors, you think I should read.

Don’t forget that I’ll be discussing the habit of downplaying our feelings in my next article on Saturday. And please stay safe during this period, remember to wash your hands and maintain good personal hygiene.

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