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Reading African Women Writers, 2014.

Reading African Women Writers, 2014.

Many bloggers have been important in leading me to books by African women. Kinna @ KinnaReads is the blogger I rely on most.  She is particularly knowledgeable about African literature.  Last month she offered a list of 12 books which she suggests as a syllabus for a hypothetical university course titled Introduction to African Women Writers All the books are fiction,  the list is regionally representative, and provides a good breadth of themes.

1.    Distant View of a Minaret, by Alifa Rifaat

2.    Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami

3.    July’s People by Nadine Gordimer

4.    Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

5.    No Sweetness Here and Other Stories by Ama Ata Aidoo

6.    On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe

7.    Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie

8.    So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba

9.    The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta

10.The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna

11.Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbe by Doreen Baingana

12.Women of Algiers in Their Apartment by Assia Djebar

I have read and reviewed half of them in the past two years. Some of them are favorites of mine, too. The links are to my reviews.  I also read and loved The Joys of Motherhood years ago. Recently I did read and review another of Emechata’s books, The Bride Price, as well as write a response to those who consider it feminist.  I plan to read the books that I haven’t read for her Africa Reads 2014 Challenge if I can get copies of them.

From the perspective of a white American and a relative newcomer to African women writers, I’d like to supplement Kinna’s list with a couple of additional suggestions.

1.    Half a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Adichie.  A story taking place in the Biafra war for independence and one of the best books I have read about women in civil war.

2.    Americanah, by Chimamanda Adichie.   A international story of a Nigerian woman who lives for a time in the USA.   Americans should read this description of race in our country.

3.    Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi.  Another international novel, a lyrical story about a family of African migrants striving for success and never being successful enough.  Appropriate for all of us who strive.

Adichie on Feminism

We often hear that feminism is nothing but a western phenomena, something that African women don’t need.  Adichie strongly disagrees.  In a speech she calls on all women and men to become feminists.  Drawing from her own experiences in Africa, she provides strong reasons why feminism must be global. See the 30 minute video here.

A Celebration of Bessie Head

As I read Ama Ata Aidoo’s poem, I kept thinking how appropriate her words were for many of the global women of color whose books I have been reading.

Dear Fresh Spirit,

that rejoining
The Others,
you can tell them
now more than ever,

do we need
the support
the energy

to create
recreate and

nothing more
nothing less.