Author Ayesha Harruna Attah Recommends Five Favorite Books from Africa
Ghanaian writer Ayesha Harruna Attah has published two novels, Harmattan Rain, nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2010 and Saturday's Shadows, which was translated into Dutch. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Asymptote Magazine, and the Caine Prize Writers’ 2010 Anthology. She was shortlisted for the 2015 Miles Morland Foundation Scholarship. She currently lives in Senegal.
Mohammed Naseehu Ali: The Prophet of Zongo Street
Who could forget a character having to prove his manhood before an invigilator, with all of the residents of the fictitious Zongo Street greedily awaiting the outcome? Mohammed Naseehu Ali’s story collection blends stories like this with Ghana’s vivacious and often divisive politics and with the struggles of being an immigrant in New York City.
Doreen Baingana: Tropical Fish, Tales from Entebbe
A bold collection of short stories from Entebbe in Uganda, following the Mugisha girls. It weaves their coming of age tales with the youngest daughter’s jaunt in America as well as the bloody effects of Idi Amin’s regime. I loved how Doreen Baingana tackles the sexuality of the girls and all the complexity that comes with.
Naguib Mahfouz: Palace Walk
Naguib Mahfouz's first of the Cairo Trilogy. The story of a family's unraveling in Egypt during and after the First World War. The texture of their world is so well-woven, one can hear, see, taste the goings-on in the al-Jawal household and beyond years after putting down this novel.
Alain Mabanckou: Broken Glass
I could listen to Broken Glass tell his stories for days in the Credit Gone Away bar within which he spends his days with similarly colorful (and usually soused) types. Alain Mabanckou is deliciously irreverent and has a wicked sense of humor.
Sefi Atta: Everything Good Will Come
A novel about family, friendship, male-female relationships, love, and politics, all elements that keep me riveted to a book. Two childhood friends whose destinies take completely different shapes after a violent incident marks them both. Sefi Atta writes beautifully, clearly, and honestly.