August was a great month for my blog ( 100+ WordPress followers, Yay!!!) and reading. I read 10 books in August, more than i anticipated and the best part is i didn’t read one terrible book. Sure, there were a couple that i could have done without but they weren’t so bad to be a waste of my time. I also bought a LOT of books in August, to the detriment of new shoes even but i have no regrets.
I would like to say that i’ll be reading strictly from this list but that is not possible. There are just so many books out there; this list is more of a guide so i don’t stray too far or spend time longing for books i don’t have yet. Anyways, that’s enough talk from me. Meet the books of September.
1. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is a 1972 book written by Walter Rodney that takes the view that Africa was deliberately exploited and underdeveloped by European colonial regimes.
Rodney argues that a combination of power politics and economic exploitation of Africa by Europeans led to the poor state of African political and economic development evident in the late 20th century. In the book’s preface, Rodney praises the state of Tanzania, which had pursued the sort of Marxist political ideology that he advocated. – Wikipedia
Reviews for the book
“Really liked how Rodney laid out a lot of the mechanisms of underdevelopment, like the altering of trade routes, and how he spells out a lot of the hard numbers of underdevelopment and imperialism. His theory or framing was hit and miss- I liked his view on active underdevelopment and his framing of that sometimes, but he takes kind of a hard Marxist view on linear societal development, which isn’t really for me.”
“Deeply touching! Gave me a real insight of the relationship between Europe and Africa… ”
-Kar De kouss
“An extremely good analysis of African politics!”
2. The Making of an African Legend: The Biafra Story by Frederick Forsyth
Previously, Forsyth had been a journalist but his book on Biafra marked his remarkable debut as an author. Largely forgotten today, Biafra was a breakaway province of Nigeria and the scene of a bloody civil war in the 1960s. Biafra’s population largely consisted of the minority Ibo people, who were in revolt against Nigeria’s majority Hausa and Fulani people. While the world community today looks with more favor on secessionist regimes, in the 1960s, both East and West united against Biafra, with only France providing assistance to the rebels.
This disturbing work has been unavailable for 20 years, but now has come back into print when its relevance to a world of civil wars and ethnic cleansing is greater than ever. This narrative of Third World civil strife and Great Power duplicity is made even more compelling by the skills of a master storyteller. – Goodreads
3. Ake: The Years of Childhood( Abridged) by Wole Soyinka
“The Canon’s residence was a storey building in the personage square and it was as stolid as the Canon himself, riddled with black wooden-framed windows. Bishopscourt was also a storey-building, but only pupil lived in it so it was not a house. Only the school-room of the primary school shared this closeness to the woods which was inhabited by spirit and ghommids that made children permanently nervous, and chased them out when they had wandered too deeply in them for firewood, mushrooms and snail.”
The abridged version of Wole Soyinka’s classic tale will introduce a new generation to the wonders and charm of Soyinka’s Ake: a world of infinite possibilities and endless mischief. A priceless addition to a child’s library.
Reviews for the book
“Playwright, poet, novelist, polemical essayist and now autobiographer, Mr. Soyinka is unquestionably Africa’s most versatile writer and arguably her finest. In Ake he has produced an account of his childhood as a Yoruba in western Nigeria that is destined to become a classic of African autobiography, indeed a classic of childhood memoirs wherever and whenever produced….Through recollection, restoration and re-creation, he conveys a personal vision that was formed by the childhood world that he now returns to evoke and exalt in his autobiography. This is the ideal circle of autobiography at its best. It is what makes Ake, in addition to its other great virtues, the best available introduction to the work of one of the liveliest, most exciting writers in the world today.” – The New York Times
4. The Maestro, The Magistrate & The Mathematician by Tendai Huchu
Three very different men struggle with thoughts of belonging, loss, identity and love as they attempt to find a place for themselves in Britain. The Maestro, a depressed, quixotic character, sinks out of the real world into the fantastic world of literature. The Magistrate tries to create new memories and roots, fusing a wandering exploration of Edinburgh with music. The Mathematician, full of youth, follows a carefree, hedonistic lifestyle, until their three universes collide.
In this carefully crafted, multi-layered novel, Tendai Huchu, critically acclaimed author of The Hairdresser of Harare, with his inimitable humour, reveals much about the Zimbabwe story as he draws the reader deep into the lives of the three main characters.
Reviews for the book
“An unusually astute and unflinching writet” – The Guardian
“Tendai Huchu illustrates universal notions well” – The Examiner
“Tendai Huchu seems to be the great-grandchild of Jonathan Swift with many voices in his head” – Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung
5. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
With effortless grace, celebrated author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie illuminates a seminal moment in modern African history: Biafra’s impassioned struggle to establish an independent republic in southeastern Nigeria during the late 1960s.
We experience this tumultuous decade alongside five unforgettable characters: Ugwu, a thirteen-year-old houseboy who works for Odenigbo, a university professor full of revolutionary zeal; Olanna, the professor’s beautiful young mistress who has abandoned her life in Lagos for a dusty town and her lover’s charm; and Richard, a shy young Englishman infatuated with Olanna’s willful twin sister Kainene.
Half of a Yellow Sun is a tremendously evocative novel of the promise, hope, and disappointment of the Biafran war.
Reviews for the book
Astonishing… fierce and beautifully written. Half of a Yellow Sun is honest and cutting, and always, always human, always loving. It is a pleasure to read Chimamanda’s crisp, resonant prose. We see how every person’s belonging is contested in a new nation; find out that nobility of purpose has no currency in this contest; how powerfully we can love; how easily we can kill; how human we can be when a war dedicates itself to stripping our humanity from us.- Binyavanga Wainaina
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie knows what is at stake, and what to do about it. She is fearless, or would not have taken on the intimidating horror of Nigeria’s civil war. – Chinua Achebe
6. Burma Boy by Biyi Bandele
Burma Boy tells the little-known history of Nigerian soldiers who fought in the Chindits, a commando division of the British Army in Burma during the Second World War.
The protagonist is Ali Banana, an irrepressible 14-year-old boy who sneaks away from home to join the battle. He is soon deployed with the Thunder Brigade to fight the Japanese in Burma. Dropped unceremoniously into enemy territory with orders to defend a lonely jungle stronghold, Ali Banana and the Thunder Brigade must rely on laughter, camaraderie and sheer faith to survive.
Burma Boy is a work of historical fiction based on extensive research and the author’s remembrance of his veteran father’s tales. It describes war and weaponry, booby-traps and bombardment in often stunning detail and with much subtlety, humour and humanity.
Reviews for the book
“A novel that resonates across the pages with the narrative mastery of the groit’s voice” – Wole Soyinka
“Imagine Sword of Honour written from a Nigerian point of view… As humane, ridiculous and moving as Waugh’s novels of the world at war, this novel has the added virtue of Biyi Bandele’s wonderful lyric gifts” – Roman Bennett
“A riveting read, convincingly imagined and cinematically told. Bandele is a gifted storyteller. Burma Boy is a significant antidote to the malady of historical amnesia about the contribution that black colonials made during World War Two” – Linton Kwesi Johnson
7. Bomboy by Yewande Omotosho
Leke is a troubled young man living in the suburbs of Cape Town. He develops strange habits of stalking people, stealing small objects and going from doctor to doctor in search of companionship rather than cure.
Through a series of letters written to him by his Nigerian father whom he has never met, Leke learns about a family curse; a curse which his father has unsuccessfully tried to remove.
Bomboy is a well crafted and complex narrative written with a sensitive understanding of both the smallest and magnitude of a single life.
Reviews for the book
“Bomboy surprises and delights, sings at turns, as it straddles the past and the present, bringing into focus cultural beliefs while examining the intimacies and complexities of bonds of family and friendship. What strikes me most id the originality. This fine debut, firmly rooted in contemporary consciousness, is storytelling of note which whets the appetite for more.” – James Hichens, author of Divine Justice
8. Say You Are One of Them by Uwem Akpan
Say You’re One of Them is a collection of short stories by Nigerian writer Uwem Akpan, first published in 2008. Containing five stories, each set in a different African country, this collection won the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Africa region) and the 2009 Beyond Margins Award.
Reviews for the book
The humor, the endurance, the horrors and grace-Akpan has captured all of it… The stories are not only amazing and moving, and imbued with a powerful moral courage – they are also surprisingly expert… Beautifully constructed, stately in a way that offsets their impoverished scenarios. Akpan wants you to see and feel Africa, its glory and its pain. And you do, which makes this an extraordinary book.–O magazine
‘Uwem Akpan writes with a political fierceness and a humanity so full of compassion it might just change the world. His is a burning talent.’ –Chris ABANI, author of The Virgin of Flames
An important literary debut… juxtaposed against the clarity and revelation in Akpan’s prose -as translucent a style as I’ve read in a long while – we find subjects that nearly render the mind helpless and throw the heart into a hopeless erratic rhythm out of fear, out of pity, out of the shame of being only a few degrees of separation removed from these monstrous modern circumstances…The reader discovers that no hiding place is good enough with these stories battering at your mind and heart.–Chicago Tribune
9. No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe
The novel is the second work in what is sometimes referred to as the “African trilogy”, following Things Fall Apart and preceding Arrow of God. Things Fall Apart concerns the struggle of Obi Okonkwo’s grandfather Okonkwo against the changes brought by the English.
When Obi Okonkwo—grandson of Okonkwo, the main character in Things Fall Apart—returns to Nigeria from England in the 1950s, his foreign education separates him from his African roots. He’s becoming a part of a ruling elite whose corruption he finds repugnant.
Forced to choose between traditional values and the demands of a changing world, he finds himself trapped between the expectations of his family, his village, and the larger society around him.
With unequaled clarity and poignancy, Chinua Achebe’s No Longer at Ease remains a brilliant statement of the challenges facing Nigeria today.
10. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
A New York Times Notable Book
A Time Magazine “Best Comic of the Year”
A San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times Best-seller
Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.
Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love. – Goodreads
Have you read any of these books? Share your review in the comments below.