Africa is a vast and diverse continent with a rich history and culture, and these novels about Africa provide an excellent way to gain insight into the many different countries, people, and cultures that make up this complex and multifaceted place.
This article highlights 8 must-read fiction books about Africa – and next I will cover some of my favourite non-fiction titles.
Let me know what you think and if you have others to add to this list:
- “We Need New Names” by NoViolet Bulawayo: This novel follows the story of a young girl named Darling, who leaves her home in Zimbabwe for a new life in America, and explores themes of displacement, identity, and belonging. The book offers a vivid portrayal of life in Zimbabwe during a time of political and economic upheaval and sheds light on the experiences of immigrants trying to build a new life in a foreign land.
- “The Power of One” by Bryce Courtenay: This coming-of-age novel tells the story of Peekay, a young white boy growing up in South Africa during the apartheid era, and his journey to find his place in the world. The book offers a powerful critique of apartheid and explores themes of identity, race, and social justice.
- “A Bend in the River” by V.S. Naipaul: This novel is set in a fictional African country and explores themes of identity, politics, and cultural change. The book offers a thought-provoking reflection on the impact of colonialism on African societies and the struggles faced by those trying to navigate the complex forces of modernity and tradition.
- “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith: This cozy mystery novel is set in Botswana and follows the adventures of Mma Precious Ramotswe, the country’s first female detective. The book offers a charming portrayal of Botswana’s culture and people and sheds light on the challenges faced by women in traditionally male-dominated societies.
- “The River Between” by Ngugi wa Thiong’o: This novel is set in Kenya and explores themes of colonialism, identity, and cultural conflict through the story of a young man caught between his tribe’s traditions and the modern world. The book offers a poignant reflection on the impact of colonialism on African societies and the struggle to maintain cultural traditions in the face of modernity.
- “A Good Man in Africa” by William Boyd: This satirical novel is set in a fictional African country and follows the misadventures of Morgan Leafy, a bumbling British diplomat who becomes embroiled in a web of corruption and intrigue. The book offers a witty and insightful critique of post-colonial Africa and the challenges faced by those trying to navigate its complex social and political landscape.
- “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe: This classic novel is set in Nigeria and tells the story of Okonkwo, a tribal leader who grapples with the impact of colonialism on his community and personal identity. The book offers a hard-hitting critique of colonialism and its impact on African societies, and sheds light on the experiences of those caught between traditional culture and the forces of modernity.
- “Disgrace” by J.M. Coetzee: This novel is set in post-apartheid South Africa and follows a university professor who experiences a fall from grace and explores themes of race, power, and redemption. The book offers a searing critique of the legacy of apartheid and its ongoing impact on South African society.
In conclusion, these fiction books offer a valuable window into the complexities of Africa’s history, culture, and social and political issues. By reading these books before visiting Africa, you will gain a deeper understanding of the many different countries, people, and cultures that make up this diverse and vibrant continent.