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100 books to read before you die…

August 24, 2012

We’ve all seen the little fat tome in our bookstores.  Some of us have even bought it.  Have you read all of those books?  Lately however, I’ve been wondering, what if we compiled the top 100 African books to read in order to better understand Africa?  And perhaps also for others to better understand Africa, this vibrant continent that only seems to have one image in some circles.

Evidently, African writers do not make any bones about the fact that there are problems on the continent.  Of course there are – Africa is not the new heaven and the new earth to paraphrase the Bible – but the problems faced by the African continent can be, and are also encountered elsewhere.  So why then as an example, do we seem to only hear of the hopelessness and the helplessness of the Zimbabwean people who just MUST have the help of the West?!

This portrayal forms the basis of what the Beeb prefers to show us in any case.  Now I’ve never been to Zimbabwe (although I keep reading so many publications coming out of that country that I must soon visit), but reading The hairdresser of Harare for instance showed me another reality, one that I would much rather subscribe to: yes, life is hard but we are not helpless and hopeless.  We are able to deal with these issues with humour and dignity.

Do I choose to subscribe to that view because it somewhat massages my ego?  No.  I just find it very hard and difficult to believe that close to 13 million people would just wring their hands in despair as they await food parcels.

And so to these 100 African books to read – what type of books must they be?  My preference goes for the fictional books, and over the next weeks, months, year? I will review here those novels, and perhaps even the odd poems I think should make the list.  As always, I’ll be most grateful for your own selection.

Happy reading then!!!

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