Tag: Africa

Arrow of God

AchebeReading literature from around the world is both entertaining and educational, even if it is fiction. We are seeing more and more writing coming out of Africa and I find that, despite the grass houses and curious religious activities, the life in Africa is often very similar to the life in the United States. No, few of us have a sacred python living in the rafters of our living room, but what about that Virgin Mary statue on the bureau or that USC pennant on the wall? We may not equate such fetishisms with religion, but maybe we should. Stop and think about it.

Chinua Achebe is definitely one of the most recognized contemporary Africa authors. His first novel, Things Fall Apart, is often the only book people read by an Africa author. I notice that Achebe is becoming common on college reading lists so I expect we will be seeing far more literature from Africa. But I invite anyone to make a simple search through African literature and gather up many newer authors to give variety and enlightenment to your reading list.

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African Literature Comes of Age

AfricaSomeplace around the internet there is a reading challenge going on with the subject being African and African writers. Although I have misplaced any notes or posts I may have saved for this challenge, I do remember submitting a half-dozen African titles that I planned (promised?) to read over the next year. Was it last year?

I almost immediately rounded up the books in question so, even without the list, I can fairly accurately reconstruct it for this post.

  • Akhenaten by Naguib Mahfouz
  • No Longer At Ease by Chinua Achebe
  • A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
  • We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
  • The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola
  • Nervous Conditions by Tsiti Dangarembga

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We Need New Names

DarlingAs a part of the 2014 reading challenge to make more readers familiar with African authors and African themes, I have added several titles to my reading list and, to date, have read three or four of those titles. The most recent was We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo. This one you should read: it’s the author’s first novel and isn’t great literature but it does tell a good story that covers a lot of themes.

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The Palm-Wine Drinkard

This is the first book toward my commitment to read  a half-dozen books from African authors.


Written in 1946, The Palm-Wine Drinkard is an amazing amalgamation of several types of literature. First, it is a good example of the picaresque: here a young man who is best suited for drinking palm-wine all day long, moves from episode to episode, story to story, challenge to challenge, in the search for his palm-wine tapster who had died in a fall from a tall tree. It seems that our hero, who shortly becomes known as the Father of gods who can do anything in this world, has heard that the dead hang around for awhile so he sets out to find his tapster and resume a life of drinking palm-wine . Along the way there are many challenges and with the help of his juju, our hero meets the challenges, escapes death, finds his dead tapster, and returns home with the magic he needs to feed his village and assure a plentiful supply of palm-wine.

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