East African Books I Want to Read

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Hello Friends, Yes I know it’s been awhile and I can literally see the dust that has built up from my absence and it feels good to finally sit down and compose this particular post.

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I have been trying to get back into Kenyan literature and a recent book ( Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor ) has revived my interest in the local scene. I will do a book review soon because the whole reading experience was a breath of fresh air.

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Synopsis

Which in turn caused a ripple effect and inspired me to expand my reach, not only in Kenya but the neighboring countries just to get a feel of what East African literary scene has to offer. A friend of mine reached out to me with a list of books set in East Africa and I selected a few to tackle as a sort of personal project in the coming months. From Somalia to Rwanda here are some East African Books that I’ll be reading in the coming months.
(if you’ve read any of them please let me know)

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Image result for kintu by jennifer nansubuga makumbi
Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi(Uganda)

Synopsis

Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Family Saga

In 1750, Kintu Kidda unleashes a curse that will plague his family for generations. In this ambitious tale of a clan and of a nation, Makumbi weaves together the stories of Kintu’s descendants as they seek to break from the burden of their shared past and reconcile the inheritance of tradition and the modern world that is their future.

Family Curses and folklore I’m so excited

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Image result for The Mzungu Boy by Meja Mwangi
The Mzungu Boy by Meja Mwangi ( Kenya)

Synopsis

Young Adult, Historical Fiction

For young Kariuki, life in a small village in central Kenya is one great adventure. And when he meets Nigel life becomes even more interesting. Nigel is from England and he has come to visit his great-grandfather, the fearsome Bwana Ruin who owns the farm where all the villagers work. The villagers call Nigel the mzungu boy, and they view him with suspicion and fear.

This sounds like it’s going to offer a unique perspective to the colonialist narrative.

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 Image result for The Orchard of Lost Souls (Somalia)
The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed (Somalia)

Synopsis

Genre: War, Historical Fiction, Contemporary

It is 1988 and Hargeisa waits. Whispers of revolution travel on the dry winds but still, the dictatorship remains secure. Soon, and through the eyes of three women, we will see Somalia fall. 
Nine-year-old Deqo has left the vast refugee camp she was born in, lured to the city by the promise of her first pair of shoes.

In all the countries in East Africa Somalia is the one that’s a mystery to me so his will definitely rid me of my ignorance

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A Sunday at The Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche (Rwanda)

Synopsis

Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary

A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali is a moving, passionate love story set amid the turmoil and terror of Rwanda’s genocide.
All manner of Kigali residents pass their time by the pool of the Mille-Collines hotel: aid workers, Rwandan bourgeoisie, expatriates, UN peacekeepers, prostitutes. Keeping a watchful eye is Bernard Valcourt, a jaded foreign journalist, but his closest attention is devoted to Gentille, a hotel waitress with the slender, elegant build of a Tutsi. As they slip into an intense, improbable affair, the delicately balanced world around them–already devastated by AIDS–erupts in a Hutu-led genocide against the Tutsi people. Valcourt’s efforts to spirit Gentille to safety ended in their separation. It will be months before he learns of his lover’s shocking fate.

I am very familiar with the history of Rwandan’s genocide but I am excited to get to the meat of it through this book plus it also touches on the Aids crisis.

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Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Ethiopia)

Synopsis

Genre: Historical, Health, Contemporary

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him. 

I’ll be interested to see how this plays out especially since it involves immigration.

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Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed ( Somalia/Eritrea)

Synopsis

Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary

Aden, Yemen, 1935; a city vibrant, alive, and full of hidden dangers. And home to Jama, a ten-year-old boy. But then his mother dies unexpectedly and he finds himself alone in the world.
Jama is forced home to his native Somalia, the land of his nomadic ancestors. War is on the horizon and the fascist Italian forces who control parts of East Africa are preparing for battle. Yet Jama cannot rest until he discovers whether his father, who has been absent from his life since he was a baby, is alive somewhere.

I’m definitely getting Khaled Hosseini vibes from this one plus they pass through Eritrea an added bonus.

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Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela (SUDAN)

Synopsis

 Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary 

Their fortune threatened by shifting powers in Sudan and their heir’s debilitating accident, a powerful family under the leadership of Mahmoud Bey is torn between the traditional and modern values of Mahmoud’s two wives and his son’s efforts to break with cultural limits.

From the blurb, it sounds like it’s going to discuss Sudan’s traditions and social commentary.

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Here is a link to the Goodreads if you want to follow up with me

East African Project

If I can get to one each month, I’ll post a review on how I found it fingers crossed this project will introduce me to impactful local literature and diversify my reading palet.
Thank you so much for visiting.

Kenyan library

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9 thoughts on “East African Books I Want to Read

  1. Kintu is such a great book. I loved both the story and the writing and it’s one of the best books I read this year. I can’t recommend it enough. Yes. Please read it.

    Like

  2. I must say that all the books sound very interesting and to my shame I know very little about East African literature and African literature, but I’d like to know more.

    Like

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