We recommend books for all seasons and occasions but our chief reason for today’s book list is the man who never seems to run out of words – Narendra Modi himself. How? Well, our Prime Minister was recently in Africa doing things that Prime Ministers do when visiting Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya. #TravelGoals
Meanwhile, back home in India, his African visit prompted us to revisit our library to pick out some truly memorable books from the continent that never really had its time under the sun to showcase its magnificent literature. Here’s what should make it to your reading list too.
The Last Flight of the Flamingo, Mia Couto
Mia Couto might be the next best thing you discover from this article. The Mozambique-born writer writes about his country at the end of its civil war when soldiers begin blowing up by themselves until a UN investigation is set under motion to get to the bottom of the story. But this is Africa and things are never what they seem. With a dash of magic realism that will remind you Marquez and Rushdie, this is one book that you need to read right away.
Disgrace, J M Coetzee
The most important writer about South Africa is also famously reclusive. Coetzee pours everything he has in his writings and Disgrace is his most famous work that went on to win the Booker Prize and later on the Nobel Prize in Literature as well. Disgrace is essential reading to understand post-apartheid South Africa and is written to make you feel uncomfortable and question your dark side as events unfold in the life of its central character David Lurie. Waiting For The Barbarians by the same author is another book you add to your #ReadingList.
The Zanzibar Chest, Aidan Hartley
Aidan Hartley’s book is a travelogue, personal quest and a running commentary on Africa all rolled into one. Born and raised in Zanzibar and Kenya, Hartley draws upon his later days as a reporter covering conflicts that rocked Africa in the late 80s and 90s. Hartley’s family served in India in a previous era so there’s a local flavor to his book that Hartley recounts as well. His insight into Tanzania and the continent’s long history of being a colony makes this book a gem.
The Constant Gardener, John le Carre
If you wanted to know why most of Africa is still considered third-world while rich countries get richer, then this thriller with themes of socio-politico supremacy will put you right. Easier to read than most books in this list and with a movie starring Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes, The Constant Gardener features a pharmaceutical company using gullible Kenyans as guinea pigs in all its devious and dangerous hegemony. This writer found immense pleasure in reading this book while on his journey through Kenya so consider this book as a personal recommendation.
Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond
Finally, a book in Africa itself – but with a twist. Jared Diamond asks why it was that Europeans came to conquer Africa and not the other way around? Diamond says that Europeans had access to better cattle that developed potent germs and antibodies. He argues that because of its geography, Europe developed complicated technologies like steel and guns before Africans (or other countries that Europe colonized) did. Diamond’s book is an eye-opener to an aspect of colonization that will intrigue you long after you’ve finished reading it.
5 Other honourable mentions:
July’s People by Nadine Gordimer
The Book of Secrets by M. G. Vassanji
Neighbours: The Story of a Murder by Lilia Momple
A Dry White Season by Andre Brink
The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing
Liked this article? Also read: 7 Of The Best Monsoon Reads Of All Time
Cover Image Courtesy: Aditi Sharma