Working as a Peace Corps volunteer in a remote African village is not an easy undertaking in any situation. For an inexperienced, idealistic and, in addition, deaf person, such an adventure makes for an extraordinary story. Josh Swiller spent close to two years in northern Zambia in the village of Mununga, one of the most deprived villages in a poor region. His experiences and encounters, his learning by trial and error, and, most of all, his falling in love with the village and Africa, is the content of this unusual and highly readable memoir.
In Youth: Scenes from Provincial Life II, Coetzee distances himself from the younger John by writing what he terms an “autre-biography. Written in the present tense and in the third person, the story has a lively and immediate reality while at the same time suggesting a clear distance between the author and his subject.
Tendai Huchu’s The Hairdresser of Harare (published in 2010 by Weaver Press), is a touching story written in the voice of Vimbai, probably the “best” hairdresser in Harare. All ladies who have a standing in society visit the salon of Mrs. Khumalo to be served by the kind, attractive, professional Vimbai. Then, one day, a charming, gorgeously looking young man walks into the salon and, enchanting the owner and the customers present, is hired on the spot.
Frank Eloff and Laurence Waters, two doctors of different generations, different personalities, and opposing perspectives, are thrown together – sharing a room – when the younger, Laurence, joins the small medical team in a dilapidated hospital in a remote part of South Africa. Damon Galgut, award winning South African author, builds his intense and thought provoking novel around these two opposing characters, their different approaches to the challenges facing the hospital and its community, and, fundamentally, their contrasting beliefs of what is “good”, moral and ethical.
Julius, the main character in Teju Cole’s Open City, is a German-Nigerian immigrant who works as a resident doctor in a New York City psychiatric clinic. As we follow him, meandering – initially aimlessly – through the streets in his neighborhood and beyond, our eyes and minds are opened to much more than the sidewalks, the brownstones, the parks and other vistas passing by at walking pace.What evolves as we are drawn deeper and deeper into the narration and the narrator’s mind is much more than another “stream-of-consciousness” story or another literary introduction to New York City and some of its illustrious people.
Anybody who is familiar with “The Gods Must Be Crazy” movies will feel an immediate connection to this novel, the third Detective Kubu story by South African writing team “Michael Stanley” (Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip). While the movies may have given us a somewhat idealistic view of the life of the “Bushmen”*) in the wide expanse of the Kalahari Desert, the reality of their survival between their traditional way of life and long-held beliefs set against expectations and demands of modern Botswana society is much more realistically depicted here.
Award-winning Congolese (Brazzaville) author Alain Mabanckou of an impressive list of novels to his name, delves with AFRICAN PSYCHO (2003) into the underbelly of a large African industrial city in disarray. His stinging critique of that society and its institutions, vaguely identifiable as his own, its post-colonial links to “the country over there” (France) and the rivalry with the other Congo (DRC), is couched in bitter, yet at the same time hilarious satire and farce.
Randall Robinson, widely recognized for his extensive non-fiction writing on topics that range from African-American socio-politics to international human rights, ventures into a world of fiction that transcends any genre definition of a traditional novel. It encompasses a memoir, a coming-of-age and a very tender love story with elements of magic realism and an account of a real and spiritual journey. Interwoven into these different narrative strands are discussions on African-American socio-political issues and a refresher course on aspects of African history.
Collected and introduced by award winning Nigerian author, Helon Habila, this new anthology is an outstanding and wide-ranging rich smorgasbord of stories by twenty six writers from nineteen countries all across Africa – stories written in English or translated from French, Portuguese or Arabic.
Toyin Omoyeni Falola, well known scholar of African history, has used his personal experiences to create a rich and innovative memoir, combining his growing up during that time with events in his community and the country as a whole. The resulting book gives the reader vivid insight into a complex society with its intricate traditions, in particular those of the Yoruba culture.