Naguib Mahfouz is a member of a very small and elite club: that of African Nobel Laureates in Literature. His most famous work is the The Cairo Trilogy, of which Palace of Desire is the second book. Mahfouz paints a rich picture of the bustling city of Cairo in the 1920s. His characters are are engaging, his stories elegantly handled, and he manages within one family to examine some of the great questions of life.
The River and the Source was the winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Best First Book – Africa), as well as and the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature, in 1995. It is a sweeping story following the lives of three generations of women, from Akoko, born into a traditional Luo community, to her grandchild Awiti, whose children live into the late twentieth century.
One Day I Will Write About This Place is an interesting, honest, and immensely readable short memoir. The book documents the Binyavanga Wainaina’s life from childhood through to how he eventually became an author, going on to win the Caine Prize. The memoir gives us a window not only into the Wainaina’s life, but into the Kenya he grew up in.
Hochschild’s authoritative history is an attempt to record and reveal exactly what King Leopold did in the Congo. The story begins with the figure of Leopold himself, who, frustrated by the limits of the constitutional monarchy, and by the small size of his own country, wants to acquire a colony. The Belgian parliament does not support the scheme, so Leopold eventually has to claim the Congo in his own right, not as a colony, but as his own private business venture.
Karen Blixen moved to Kenya in 1914, and spent almost twenty years in that country. By many measures, her life in Africa was a failure. She was bankrupted; got divorced; caught a serious venereal disease; and lost her lover in a plane crash. However, Blixen clearly loved the country of Kenya very deeply, and OUT OF AFRICA is primarily a record of that love affair.
Things Fall Apart is the most translated African work of all time, appearing in over 50 languages, and has sold more than 8 million copies. It was not only the author’s first novel, but also among the first African books to be written in English, both of which facts make it all the more remarkable that it is still widely regarded as the seminal work of English language African literature.