Literature

5 Books by African Writers You Need To Read This Summer

Add these books to your summer reading list.

It's summer now, the days are finally longer and its warm enough to enjoy some reading outside. Here is a list of books by African writers that have recently come out this May and June, just in time to be added to your summer reading list.

Since the novel often dominates discussions about African literature, we've added some poetry, nonfiction, and short stories for those looking to branch out into different genres.

Take a look at the five books by African writers you need to read this summer below.


1. House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma

Book cover via Atlantic Books

You need an epic story if you're Zimbabwean and your novel is called House of Stone. Novuyo Tshuma gives just that in her new book that spans 50 years, shifting how we read, invent, and rediscover national histories. The book follows Zamani, a lodger in the Mlambo's house, who helps the Mlambo's search for their missing son Bukhosi and in the process ends up inhabiting the Mlambo's home and their family history.

The book comes out in the UK today, June 7, and in the U.S. in January 2019. You can order your copy here.

2. These Bones Will Rise Again by Panashe Chigumadzi

Book cover via Indigo Press.

This is the summer for Zimbabwean literature. Panashe Chigumadzi is known for her debut novel Sweet Medicine (Blackbird Books, 2015) and her nonfiction essays for Chimurenga, For Harriet, and the Washington Post. Next week, she will publish her first book of nonfiction that reflects on Zimbabwe's recent "couplite" by intersecting national history with family history.

The book is out June 14. You can preorder it here.

3. Lagos Noir edited by Chris Abani

Book cover via Akashic books.

Many stories have been written about the continent's largest megacity Lagos, but let's be honest—you can never have enough stories about Lagos. Hot off the press this week, the anthology is edited by acclaimed poet and novelist Chris Abani and features 13 stories by writers including E.C. Osondu, Nnedi Okorafor, Jude Dibia, Chika Unigwe, A. Igoni Barrett, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, and Leye Adenle.

Get a copy here.

4. Milk Fever by Megan Ross

Book cover via UHlanga Press.

Get some poetry into your summer reading and check out South African writer Megan Ross' debut collection Milk Fever. Ross' collection came out last month and was published by the small Cape Town press Uhlanga.

The description of the book reads: "Hallucinatory, image-wet, and navigating the eternal tides of spirit and body, Milk Fever is a chimeric dreamscape in which a woman reconfigures, remembers and rebirths herself."

Get your copy here.

5. Sunny and the Mysteries of Osisi by Nnedi Okorafor

Book cover via Cassava Republic.

We could all use a little magic this summer, and there is no better place to get it than Nnedi Okorafor's sequel to What Sunny Saw in Flames, a story about a girl navigating her magical powers with her friends Olu, Chichi, and Sasha. On May 28, Okorafor added to the series with her new book Sunny and the Mysteries of Osisi. What is better than taking a literal approach to your summer reading and joining Sunny on her adventures?

Get your copy here.

Literature
Image courtesy of Doubleday.

Oyinkan Braithwaite's 'My Sister the Serial Killer' Is the Lagos-Set Novel Rocking the Crime Thriller Genre

We speak with the Nigerian author about the success of her debut novel, and breaking the boundaries of "African Lit."

"I have always been drawn to dark topics," says Oyinkan Braithwaite, the 30-year-old Nigerian author behind the critical darling of a novel My Sister, the Serial Killer.

Her declaration helps explain the subject and title of her debut novel, which tells the story of Ayoola, a young woman who has developed a not-so-healthy habit of murdering her boyfriends, leaving her older sister, the book's protagonist, Korede to clean up her mess. You may have noticed it's ubiquitous cover—which features a young black woman wearing a headwrap, casually looking on as a knife-wielding hand is reflected in her sunglasses—on your timeline or at your local store. The internationally-released, Nigerian-made novel sits confidently on retail shelves previously reserved for mass-market thrillers.

The dark and humorous, Lagos-set novel is extreme—but not just because of all the murdering that happens. It also examines the extreme nature of the many things that can push people to the edge. For the sisters, they are: intergenerational trauma, abuse, the prevalence of a culture that rewards beauty above all else, as well as having to battle with their own personal shortcomings—just to name a few.

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Photo via TONL

Five Questions from African Literature to Help You Reflect on 2018

Searing insights gleaned from some of our favorite books of 2018.

We often have the same dull reflections at the end of each year. Why not reflect with questions from your favourite African writers instead?

I still have many books on my shelf published this year that are not mine, some are borrowed from friends and many have been long overdue to be returned to the library. It is becoming costly literally and emotionally not to buy my own books. Recently, I decided to buy Emmanuel Iduma's A Strangers Pose which came with a beautiful foreword from Teju Cole. "Dream of a perfect book, a ballad with all the lyrics remembered...That book is in your hands." Cole wrote. After finishing the book, I knew I could not risk lending it to anyone.

Many books and magazine issues that came out this year felt like literature I had dreamed of filled with fascinating questions or had stories that made every day questions seem urgent.

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Audio

8 South African Albums & EPs to Stream While Staying Home

Let these South African releases from Bongeziwe Mabandla, Shabaka and the Ancestors, King Monada and others hold you down during lockdown.

This month saw a number of releases from South African artists. While the COVID-19 pandemic has taken money away from a majority of artists, this could be the best time for listeners to go through the new music that was released.

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Image courtesy of ARRAY.

What to Watch at Home During Coronavirus Shutdown: ARRAY's New Digital African Film Series

The film platform, from director Ava DuVernay, is hosting a weekly movie-viewing experience for the "global online community of cinephiles."

If you're looking for African films to dive into while at home during the coronavirus outbreak, a new digital series from award-winning director Ava DuVernay's film collective ARRAY is a great place to start. The multi-media platform and arts collective is launching its #ARRAYMatinee series, and each film will be available for viewing here.

#ARRAYMatinee is a virtual movie-viewing experience that will screen a string of the collective's previously released independent films from Africa and the diaspora. The weekly series begins on Wednesday, April 1 with a viewing of the 2015 South African coming-of-age film Ayanda. "Viewers will take a cinematic journey to the international destinations and cultures featured in five films that were released via the ARRAY Releasing independent film distribution collective that amplifies that work of emerging filmmakers of color and women of all kinds," says the platform in a press release. To promote a communal viewing experience, viewers are also encouraged to have discussions on Twitter, using the hashtag #ARRAYMatinee.

The five-part series will run weekly until May 13, and also includes films from Liberia, Ghana, and Grenada. See the full viewing schedule below with descriptions from ARRAY, and visit ARRAY's site at the allotted times to watch.

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