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Fiction books by African authors

Children of Gebelawi

Naguib Mahfouz (1981)

Originally serialised in a Cairo newspaper, Children of Gebelawi is an allegory for the religious history of the Jews, the Muslims and the Christians set in an alleyway in Cairo. It earned Mahfouz the Nobel Prize and an assassination attempt.

Tayeb Salih (1966)

Beautifully rendered in lush poetic language, Salih’s story of a man returning to his Sudanese village from England is a bleak meditation on cross-cultural misunderstandings, as well as the confusions and contradictions within the human heart.

VS Naipaul (1979)

An East African Indian, Salim leaves the east coast of Africa to set up shop in a little town on the bend of a river in an unnamed country deep in the interior, but he is plagued by disappointment and failure as the country falls to ruin. It is hardly a cheery book, but compelling and resonant.

Rian Malan (1990)

Rian Malan, from a family that included the architect of apartheid, left a divided South Africa only to return to confront his “tribe” of white Africans and – just as much – himself. There is something unsettling about his findings, but this is never less than totally absorbing.

Barbara Kingsolver (1998)

Set in the 1960s, The Poisonwood Bible concerns a family of missionaries from the American South who are moving to the Congo. It is at once a family drama and a study of the impact of one culture on another.

Alexander McCall Smith (1998)

Not even the author would claim this was a “great” book, but it earns its place by being overtly cheerful and for bringing a rare “good news” story out of an Africa that is too often characterised as a grim, barbaric, hopeless and miserable place.

J M Coetzee (1999)

Winner of the Booker Prize and later awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, Coetzee’s novel follows a disgraced university lecturer, David Lurie, who is forced out of his post after an affair and is beginning to come to terms with his powerlessness. Bleak and powerful, with just a hint of the possibility of redemption.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006)

Another Nigerian modern classic, set before and during the BiafranWar in the late 1960s, Adichie’s novel won the Orange Prize for fiction in 2007. It describes the impact of a civil war on ordinary people and in its moral seriousness – it acts almost as a book end to Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

Hisham Matar (2006)

A beautiful description of growing up in Gaddaffi’s Libya finds nine-year-old Sulaiman trying to make sense of a life where his father is a dissident and his mother on drugs. Meanwhile, the police are closing in...

Source: www.telegraph.co.uk
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