Monday, 21 January 2008

The Africa Reading Challenge

I came across the Africa Reading Challenge over at Siphoning Off A Few Thoughts. It involves committing to reading 6 books by African authors or books about Africa or African issues, from January 1 to December 31 2008. It got me thinking about extending my reading beyond my usual European/North American focus. I’ve read a fair bit of African fiction, by writers like Andre Brink, JM Coetzee and Chinua Achebe, and a tiny amount of African non-fiction (erm, Philip Gourevitch’s powerful We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families is the only thing that springs to mind at the moment). Since Half of A Yellow Sun is currently in the stack next to my bed, and I’ve wanted to read Nadine Gordimer for so long now it’s getting embarrassing, I’ve decided to sign up for this challenge. Six books seems totally achievable! And since my limited African reading to date involves male writers - The Bride Price by Buchi Emecheta is the only book by a female African writer I think I’ve read - I’ve decided to make this a female only list. Here's the list:

So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba (Senegal)
Your Madness, Not Mine by Juliana Makuchi (Cameroon) – short stories
Nervous Conditions by Tsi Tsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe)
The Pickup by Nadine Gordimer (South Africa)
Our Sister Killjoy by Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana)
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria)

I’m looking forward to reading the reviews posted as part of the challenge – I’m sure it’ll end up with yet more books I desperately want to read!


Gentle Reader said...

This sounds like a great challenge. I'd love to re-read Nadine Gordimer, and after reading Half of a Yellow Sun, I'd love to read Purple Hibiscus by Adichie--can't wait to hear what you like from this list!

Mark Thwaite said...

Yup, I might join you in this too. Six books does seem very do-able. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Normally, these reading challenges seem to be of the shrill "you-must-read-everything-by-X-in-a-week!" variety: thankfully, this is a lot calmer!

verbivore said...

The Pickup is thus far my absolute favorite Nadine Gordimer, which I will be rereading this year when I tackle all of her works. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

I also love Nervous Conditions and So Long a Letter! What a great list, I think you will really enjoy!

Logophile said...

Gentle Reader, I'm so looking forward to reading Adichie! I've heard such great things about her books, it's a very good sign that you've read one and now want to read the other...

Mark, totally agree about challenges. I'm rubbish at sticking to strict lists/deadlines, but this one seems pretty relaxed.

Verbivore, it's your enthusiasm that's made me promise myself I'll read Gordimer this year. And I chose pickup after browsing your archive and seeing that you recommended it! So glad to hear you like Nervous Conditions and So Long a Letter too, makes me look forward to reading them even more! I'll be keeping an eye out for more of your thoughts on Gordimer.

equiano said...

What a wonderful list! NERVOUS CONDITIONS is a great book - hope you enjoy it. She's written a sequel too, THE BOOK OF NOT, with apparently a third on the way, but the first remains my favourite.

If you liked Gourevitch, you might also like to try SEASON OF BLOOD by Fergal Keane - an extraordinary book.

Logophile said...

Thanks Equiano. I'm going to definitely add the Fergal Keane book to my 2008 list. In fact, I'm just annoyed with myself for not hearing about it sooner! Keane is a fellow Corkonian and I'm a big fan of his journalism.

Maw Books said...

Oh . . . I'd recommend a great read for you, but it's by a male author. I am currently halfway through What is the What by Dave Eggers. It's an autobiography of a Sudanese Lost Boy, it's very, very depressing but I can't stop myself from reading it. I highly recommend.

Logophile said...

I have heard such good things about What is the What, but I'm quite ambivalent about Eggers (I couldn't get into You Shall Know Our Velocity). Perhaps I'll put that aside for What is the What.