Participants commit to read - in the course of 2008 - six books that either were written by African writers, take place in Africa, or deal significantly with Africans and African issues.Participants will write about the books on their blogs and a list with links will be (well, is already being) kept at Siphoning Off a Few Thoughts.
There are a few reasons why I'm going to participate in the Challenge. We are lucky to live in a time when African literature of all sorts is plentiful (though, sadly, less in Africa than outside it, because the infrastructure for book production and distribution on the continent is limited to a few countries) and it's a particular interest of mine, but a recent enough one that my knowledge is still pretty superficial. I hope the Reading Challenge will increase people's curiosity about what books are out there, and I look forward to the various discussions.
I'm not going to have time to start reading for a couple months, but I want to put my list together while I'm thinking of it. It may change. Today, what I expect I will read are the following books:
- A Wreath for Udomo by Peter Abrahams
- Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire by David Anderson
- Homing In by Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye
- The Seventh Heaven: Supernatural Tales by Naguib Mahfouz
- Matigari by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
- The Seven Solitudes of Lorsa Lopez by Sony Labou Tansi
I hope many more people will sign up for the Challenge, particularly people who have not read much African writing. If you're looking for information on other books by Africans and/or about Africa, here are a few resources:
- "Africa's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century", a list released in 2002 by the Zimbabwe International Book Fair. For more than just the list, take a look at the African Book Centre's catalogue, where each title from the list is described. For a discussion of the list, with complaints, see the H-Africa discussion listserve.
- African Literature on the Internet, via the Columbia University Libraries.
- African Literature and Writers on the Internet -- a large, annotated list.
- African Children's Literature -- basic information, with links to more.
- African Writing Online -- Nonfiction, fiction, poetry, tributes to writers, etc. A great site.
- For nonfiction, here's a two-part, annotated list: Part 1, Part 2.
- The African Review of Books
- The Journal of the African Literature Association
- Africa Access: "Africa Access was founded in 1989 to help schools, public libraries, and parents improve the quality of their children's collections on Africa." Includes a database that is searchable by title, author, illustrator, media type, grade level, rating, etc.
- The Commonwealth Writers' Prize has various regional awards, including one for Africa. Here are the 2008 winners and shortlists.
- Postcolonial and Postimperial Authors -- links to many African writers.