I was talking with a colleague from work last week about Chimamanda Adichie’s great TED Talks on ‘the danger of a single story’ which I’d discovered on her blog. During that discussion I realised that even though I have always felt a great interest in and love for sub-saharan Africa and its history, and even though I’ve been there several times, my ‘single story’ of Africa has generally been seen through the writings of white Europeans, whether I’m reading fiction or non-fiction.

I decided that I needed to put that right. So over the summer (presuming British Summer Time ends on the 31st October)  I’m going to try to read and then review a series of books by African writers. I’m starting with nine I mostly gathered from Heinemann’s classic African Writers Series. I’ve laid them out in a table below – so it should be clear when I’ve read each one and reviewed it.

If it all goes well I’ll try to add more books (recommendations gratefully received) and it may stretch into an Autumn/Winter challenge as well and hopefully move me towards understanding Africa’s multiple stories.

Book and author Read Reviewed
Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe  25th July 2010  27th July 2010
African Short Stories, Ed. by Chinua Achebe

 31st August 2010

The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, Ayi Kwei Armah  23rd August 2010  30th August 2010
Nervous Conditions, Tsitsi Dangarembga    
The Collector of Treasures, Bessie Head  27th July 2010 29th July 2010 
The House of Hunger, Dambudzo Marechera  Reading  
Efuru, Flora Nwapa    
The River Between, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o  30th July 2010  3rd August 2010
A Grain of Wheat, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o     


Update 3rd October 2010

Hmm, you may have guessed that I’m unlikely to finish this challenge by the end of October – partly because I’ve become bogged down in things outside of this blog and partly because I just can’t bring myself to read any more of The House of Hunger (I may actually have to give up). So, I’m extending the challenge until the end of the year in the hope that I’ll get back on track once things have calmed down a bit.