From light-hearted love stories to heart-wrenching tales of histories African writers have given us some brilliant books this year. Here are a few suggestions:
1. A Girl is a Body of Water by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Kirabo is 12, growing up safely and happily in Nattetta village, raised by her grandparents. She doesn’t know who her mother is, and her father flits in and out. Set in the conflicted nation of her adolescence, 1970s Uganda, under brutal dictator Idi Amin, Kirabo battles a secret and ancient power awakening inside her: a rare embodiment of women’s “original state”, a sense of vitality all but smitten by her culture. An inspiring story exploring myths of origin centred on women’s lives.
2. This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga
You’ll be familiar with young Tambudzai from author Tsitsi Dangarembga’s classic 1988 novel Nervous Conditions, set in late 60s and 70s Rhodesia. Young Tambudzai’s endearing, defiant voice soared with a declarative “I” as though to announce her presence in the world. Adult Tambu, the narrator of Dangarembga’s beautiful sequel, tells her story in the second person, as though she cannot believe what has become of her life. Anxious about her prospects after leaving a stagnant job in her attempt to make a life for herself, she is faced with a fresh humiliation, until the painful contrast between the future she imagined and her daily reality drives her to breaking point.
3. The Lie of 1652: A decolonised history of land by Patric Tariq Mellet
In this critique of established pre-colonial and colonial history, Patric Tariq Mellet focuses on land dispossession, the destruction of livelihoods and the brutality of slavery in South Africa. Drawing on scholarly work and his experience of searching for identity, he provides a bold new perspective on the loss of land and belonging. Characters come to life in the story of the founding of a port at Cape Town more than 50 years before Jan van Riebeeck arrived.
4. Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedi Okorafor dips into Igbo mythology to build a dazzling fantasy world for readers between the ages of eight and 12. Following a personal tragedy, a boy named Nnamdi must confront powers that seek to destroy his hometown, Kalaria.
5. Predator Politics: Mabuza, Fred Daniel and the Great Land Scam by Rehana Rossouw
Corruption cost taxpayers trillions during Jacob Zuma’s presidency. Despite attempts by the police, courts and Public Protector to stem the graft, several politicians were rewarded with high office after stealing the aspirations of citizens. In this book, Fred Daniel, one among many targeted by predator politicians, stands up against the scourge.