FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Reading the Continent--A Work of Fiction from Every Country in Africa

After looking at my reading lists from the last several years (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015) during this past Christmas, I was embarrassed to note the dearth of African fiction on my list.  So beginning in 2016, I've decided to make an effort to read a work of fiction by an African author from every country on the continent.  A parallel effort will include reading and writing about a poem from every country.  

So below I've started my list.  I will update it as I progress--if you have any suggestions please let me know. If a novel is listed, then I've read it.  I know there is plenty of great non-fiction (much of it listed on my comprehensive Africa reading list) too but for now I will stick with the good stuff. 

I've also started including a link to my prior "Poet of the Week" selections for various African countries--something to keep you occupied until I read a book from that country.


Coincidentally, in searching for novels I came across an amazing effort by writer Ann Morgan who read a novel from EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD!  Her complete list is here.  It's invaluable in countries like Comoros and Madagascar where there is no published English fiction.


General (Multiple Countries):
West with the Night by Beryl Markham : My review is here and more information about the incomparable writer is here.
The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski.  This book is on my GOFO Africa Reading List.  I put a couple of choice quotes from the book's foreword here.

*Add section on influence of India in African literature as well


What the Day Owes the Night by Yasmina Khadra.  FUTURE READ.
Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade by Assia Djebar.  FUTURE READ.
Poet of the Week from Algeria: Moufdi Zakaria: Kassaman (We Pledge)

Confines of the ShadowMy review is here.
Poet of the Week from Libya: Fatima Mahmoud: What Was Not Conceivable
Poet of the Week from Libya: Ashur Etwebi: Politics and Writing a Poem

Poet of the Week from Libya: Khaled Mattawa: East of Carthage: An Idyll


Leaving Tangier: My review is here.
Poet of the Week from Morocco: Muhammed Bennis: Love is Eternity's River
Poet of the Week from Morocco: Ali Squali Houssaini: Moroccan National Anthem

Poet of the Week from Morocco: Hassan El Ouazzani: Elegy for Love


Talismano by Dr. Abdelwahab Meddeb. FUTURE READ.


Luuanda by Tania Macedo.  FUTURE READ.
Poet of the Week from Zaire (DRC)/Angola: Makuzayi Massaki: Regressado, Yes I Am

Cabo Verde

The Last Will and Testament of da Silva.  My review is here.

Equatorial Guinea


Sleepwalking Land by Mia Couto.  My review is here.
Poet of the Week from Mozambique: Noémia de Sousa: If You Want to Know Me

Sao Tome and Principe



Burkina Faso

Cameroon (British too, German too)

Houseboy.  My review is here.
Poet of the week from Cameroon: Mbella Sonne Dipoko: A Poem of Villeneuve St. Georges

Central African Republic



The Kafir of Khartala: My review is here.

Congo, Republic of the

Tomorrow I'll Be Twenty by Alain Mabanckou.  FUTURE READ.

Cote d'Ivoire
Allah is Not Obliged by Ahmadou Kourouma.  This novel could just as easily have been filed under Sierra Leone or Liberia but I stuck it here since the author is Ivorian.  And if we want to get all philosophical about things, most of these books could be filed under multiple countries since the borders are really an artificial colonial construct.  My review is here.

Transit by Abdourahman Waberi.  Recently finished--my review will be here.
The Land Without Shadows by Abdourahman Waberi.  FUTURE READ.



Vakio Milamina: My review is here.
Beyond the Ricefields:  the first ever novel translated into English.  My review is here.
Poet of the Week from Madagascar: Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo: 9



So Long a Letter: My full review is here.
Poet of the Week from Senegal: Senghor: Black Woman
Poet of the Week from Senegal: Leopold SenghorEt nous baignerons mon amie

Seychelles (British too)

Togo (British and Germany too)
An African in Greenland by Kpomassie.  My review is here.


Poet of the Week from Botswana: Baralong Seboni: Love That

The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz.  Magnificent story about colonial Egypt and family.
Poet of the Week from Syria/Egypt: Khalil Mutran: Boycott


Ghana Must GoMy review is here.
Poet of the Week from Ghana: Atukwei Okai: III (Everyone Dreams of Kissing You)

The Zanzibar Chest by Aiden Hartley.  One of my favorite books ever.  Not technically fiction but it sure reads like it. My review is here.
One Day I Will Write About This Place: My review is here.
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alex Fuller.  I never wrote a review on this one.  

Lesotho (and Dutch)

The Jive Talker or How to Get a British Passport: My review is here.

Poet of the Week from Malawi: Frank Chipasula: A Love Poem for my Country

Mauritius (also french and dutch)

Arrow of God by Achebe (I've read all of his novels but this one was my favorite) : My review is here.
I Do Not Come to You By Chance: My review is here.
The Fishermen: My review is here.
Americanah: My review is here.
Every Day is For the Thief: My short review is here.  My kindle highlights are here
Poet of the Week from Nigeria: Wole Soyinka: In the Small Hours

Sierra Leone (Compare with Liberia)
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna.  My review is here.


The Gunny Sack by M.J. Vassanji.  FUTURE READ.

All our Names: My review is here.  THIS IS THE GREAT AFRICAN NOVEL.  One of the best books I've ever read.

South Africa (Dutch too)
My Traitor's Heart: Read this but never wrote a review.
Bring Me My Machine Gun: Read this but never wrote a review.


Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller.
Poet of the Week from Zambia: Gwendoline Konie: In the Fist of Your Hand

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness

We Need New Names: My review is here.
They Are Coming: My review is here.

Burundi (German too)

Congo, Democratic Republic of the
A Bend in the River (1979) by V.S. Naipaul.  My review is here.

Poet of the Week from the Congo: Jean-Baptiste Tati Loutard: Impuissance

Rwanda (German too)
Everything is Yours, Everything is Not Yours: My review is here.

Eritrea (British too)

Ethiopia (Italy tried but failed)
In Praise of Savagery: My review is here.

Somalia (British too)
Warrior: Life and Death Among Somalis. My review is here.
Poet of the Week from Somalia: Abdirashid Omar: The Decree
Poet of the Week from Somalia: K'Naan: Somalia.


Namibia (but also South African)

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