Published in 2009 by Hurst Publishers, Gerard Prunier’s book is not just another contemporary history of an African conflict. It questions popular thinking, reviews a number of sources, places the conflict in the context of its time, and is engagingly written. Africa’s World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe stretches its core narrative from the aftermath of the 1994 Rwanda genocide to after the 2007 elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo .
Dr. George Odera Outa is this week’s featured author. Outa is a trained lawyer, academic and communications expert. His book, published in 2009, is titled Performing Power: Ethnic Citizenship, Popular Theatre and the Contest of Nationhood in Modern Kenya.
Armah confronts a key question that many Africans face on returning home from overseas. What is the most important thing that Africans who travel outside the continent to say, the United States, can bring home? Is it the ostentatious goodies so all can believe that they have indeed travelled?
Leila Aboulela’s latest book, Lyrics Alley recently won the 2011 Scottish Book of the Year Award and made the shortlist for the 2011 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Eurasia Region, Best Book). Aboulela is also a past winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, which she received in 2000 for her short story The Museum. In this interview, Aboulela talks about finding her voice as a writer.
With Patchwork (published by Penguin in June 2011), her first book for an adult audience, Aaku demonstrates her versatility and talent for telling a good story, even as she tackles serious social themes.
Aaku’s book, which won the 2010 Penguin Prize for African Writing, is set in Zambia. The story, presented in two parts, revolves around the life of Pumpkin, who we first meet as a nine year old growing up with her mother, Totela in Tudu Court, an apartment complex in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka.
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.
The book is set in South Africa, where Magda stays in a deep, remote farm with her father and his father’s servants (Hendrik and Anna). Magda is an unmarried woman who almost feels useless and lonely, and hopeless and desolate.
Beah’s A Long Way Gone is a remarkable account of his life as a child soldier. The writing is so vivid that sometimes one can’t help but wonder how a person can experience such horrors and still come out sane. But Beah shows it is possible.
Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen, published in 1983 by George Braziller, Inc, deals with Adah’s experiences and her courage to survive as a woman, a wife and a writer.
Ben Okri’s Infinite Riches is the third volume of The Famished Road cycle (The Famished Road was Okri’s first book). Having read The Famished Road earlier on, and, thus, been introduced to Okri’s beautiful writing, I had high expectations for this book. Thankfully, the beauty of The Famished Road carries on into this third volume.