My Year in Books02: My Literary Expeditions Through Africa

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In 2021 I read a book that fundamentally shifted my reading. It was Yaa Gyasi’s book, Homegoing. In the book one of the characters, a history teacher, tells his learners that when they are exploring the past, they should look for the voices that are silenced… and then try to discover those voices as well – only in that way will they begin to get an understanding of what really happened.

Reading that started me considering my own knowledge of stories told about the experiences of people living in Africa. It quickly became clear to me that my knowledge of not just history, but also of story, of lived experiences (both fiction and non-fiction) were decidedly biased. Since then I have tried to be more aware of finding the previously silenced voices from my own continent, and to learn a little of their stories and experiences.

The list below is the books I have read that were written by authors from the continent of Africa – the beautiful and diverse continent I call home. They come from a range of genres, and the authors come from different countries and experiences. Some have been difficult for me to read, and are important for me for that very reason. Many have been heartbreaking Many have been beautiful. All have broadened my empathy and understanding of belonging, inclusion, and diverse experiences. And I do not regret reading a single one.

A quick synopsis of the list shows that I have spent most reading time in my home country of South Africa and in Nigeria, with literary visits to Egypt, Zimbabwe, the Republic of Congo and Mauritius. I would love to have an image of the African continent that I could visually track my reading, but as a blind person that is a bit of a challenge. Unless someone out there is willing to help me? If you are, please just drop me a message and we can chat!

Here’s the list, including the countries that my literary travels have taken me to this year.

  • Aboulela, Leila – Lyrics Alley (Egypt).
  • Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi – The Thing Around Your Neck (Nigeria).
  • Bernadi, Cheryl – Managing Money in the Real World: Connecting Purpose and Joy to Money Mastery (South Africa).
  • Beukes, Lauren – Afterland (South Africa).
  • Ersapah, Rama (ed)I Rise 2022 (Mauritius).
  • Galgut, Damon – In a Strange Room (South Africa).
  • Huchu, Tendai- The Hairdresser of Harare (Zimbabwe).
  • Mabanckou, Alain – Broken Glass (Republic of the Congo).
  • Mabanckou, Alain – Memoirs of a Porcupine (Republic of the Congo).
  • Mahfouz, Naguib – Cairo Modern (Egypt).
  • Mohlele, Nthikeng – The Scent of Bliss (South Africa).
  • Obioma, Chigozie – The Fishermen (Nigeria).
  • Okorafor, Nnedi – Binti01 Binti (Nigeria).
  • Okorafor, Nnedi – Binti02 Home (Nigeria).

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