A senior lecturer in sociology at Wits University, the author Sarah Mosoetsa works from the premise that the family is the microcosm of society. In her book (published in 2011 by Witwatersrand University Press), Mosoetsa looks at African households in the KwaZulu/Natal townships of Mpumalanga [Hammersdale] and Enhlalakahle [Greytown]. What she finds is shockingly representative of the entire country – indeed the whole continent and the Third World.
Bessie Head was born in South Africa in 1937, but died tragically in 1986, leaving behind a good collection of literally works. She is one of Africa’s best known female writers. When The Rain Clouds Gather was her first novel
Cry, The Beloved Country is South Africa’s most recognized novel and has become popular world-wide. In 1995 it was adapted into a feature film that was critically acclaimed and praised to be a good portrayal of typical South Africa under apartheid.
A Love Rekindled is Myne Whitman’s second novel (published in March 2011 by CreateSpace). Set in contemporary Nigeria, the book centers around two embittered ex-lovebirds, Efe Sagay and Kevwe Mukoro. The story starts several years after the breakup of their high school relationship.
Once again, Africa Book Club takes a look at some of the year’s best books about Africa, or written by African authors. This year’s list reflects the best of African storytelling in many ways and across genres. The best books, in our opinion, are those that entertain, make us think, bring new perspectives to bear, provoke debate, and even lead us to question our own beliefs and assumptions. Our top selections managed to do just that.
Ayittey’s latest book, released on November 8, 2011, and published by Palgrave McMillan, sets out proposals to, “help oppressed people elsewhere in the world battling dictators and struggling to bring democratic change to their countries peacefully – without violence, without firing a shot, and without Western help or intervention.
Praised in South Africa as one of the most stunning début novels in decades, Sifiso Mzobe’s “Young Blood” is a page-turner that subtly mixes a crime fiction plot, hard-headed characters and latent social comment. Published by Kwela Books in 2010, the book won the prestigious Sunday Times Literary Award for best fiction – a rare honour for a first-time novelist in his early thirties. Booze, sex, drugs, stolen cars and easy money: “Young Blood” is a gangster story set in Umlazi, Durban’s biggest township.
In So Long a Letter, the late Mariama Bâ offers a sensitive portrayal of women’s struggle in her native Senegal on the dawn of independence. Neither a polemic nor an advice manual, Bâ explores the complex difficulties facing two Muslim women as they wrestle with their husbands’ second marriages. A subtle and thought-provoking novel, it not only exposes the human cost of polygamy but the very real hopes and betrayals of those standing on the threshold of change.
As a child, Susi Wyss spent three years in Africa living in the Ivory Coast with her parents. Years later, she returned to the continent as a health worker, visiting and working in more than a dozen African countries over a 16 year period. Now back in the US, Wyss has written a book whose portrayal of Africa is a culmination of her experiences.
Fiction does not always enhance or deepen our understanding of complex realities of time and place. In his novel, The Madonna of Excelsior, set in his native South Africa, Zakes Mda has achieved this mixture admirably. Against the backdrop of political events of the pre- and post-Apartheid, he builds his narrative around the impact of one specific event and its aftermath on one small community, Excelsior. He captures the essence of life under Apartheid and the difficulties awaiting all when the regime ends.