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Africa Reading Challenge

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Siphoning Off A Few Thoughts is hosting an Africa Reading Challenge. The idea is to read six books this year which are about Africa, set in Africa, written by an African etc and then post reviews. I wish I had a few more imaginative books sitting in my unread pile: Elizabeth David's Provincial Nile Cuisine, Nyama Choma at Blandings or First Shoot Your Elephant: The Gentleman's Guide to Ivory Carving. But I don't. My books are all self-consciously and obviously about Africa in one way or another. Often they have been bought for work as much as pleasure. So here's where you, the reader, come in. I'm looking for nominations for the sixth spot on my list. I want a book that has Africa as an incidental factor. Maybe a noirish thriller that just happens to be set in Bangui. Or an economic history of the goat. That sort of thing. Anyone suggesting anything by Alexander McCall Smith will be barred from this blog for ever. Anyway, here are my five for now... The Wizard of The Nile: The Hunt for Africa's Most Wanted by Matt Green - I'm waiting for this to arrive at the bookshop and have blogged about wanting to read it elsewhere The Pickup by Nadine Gordimer - The cover looked nice so I bought it Warriors: Life and Death Among Somalis by Gerald Hanley - I've read several books about Somalia without any of them really getting to grips with the country. This, I'm told, is different A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul - this was bought as a treat to myself when I had got bogged down with too many academic texts about Africa. Predictably, I still haven't got around to reading it Abyssinian Chronicles by Moses Isegawa - OK, another one that has been sitting on my shelves for an age. It's more than 500 pages and by an author I've never heard of, so I'm hoping that putting it on my list will force me to persevere


nuttycow | March 6, 2008 9:58 AM | Reply

Arg, I don't think I can help you as we seem to be in the same boat... all my Africa books are very obviously about Africa.

Blood Sisters and A Durable Fire are both very good (although might be a bit "chick lit" for you).

Anonymous | March 6, 2008 10:35 AM | Reply

I'll check them out. Actually, Mama Bridget's Diary could be just the sort of thing I'm looking for

nuttycow | March 7, 2008 11:50 AM | Reply

If you want something heavy going "The State of Africa" is supposed to be a cracking read - recommended by my father however not started by me yet.

Also reading Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux which is good.

Anonymous | March 7, 2008 12:18 PM | Reply

Thanks but I'll leave The State of Africa glowering on my bookshelf. I read Dark Star Safari a few years ago. Great book though

tumwijuke | March 7, 2008 2:20 PM | Reply

Flee. For real, flee from The Wizard of the Nile. After spending more than I could afford to buy the book 'hot off the shelf' and to have it posted to me (the cover was torn off in an apparent post office theft attempt) it was an immense disappointment.

Joseph Kony is as much a mystery to me, a Ugandan, as he is to the rest of the world. The book does nothing to answer any of my questions and leaves me in pretty much the same position as before: clueless.

Welcome to the challenge.

Amani | March 10, 2008 3:42 AM | Reply

You might try Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala. Definitely, unavoidably about Africa. But still worth adding, I think. If you're up for something a bit academic, The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS by Helen Epstein, is thought provoking. Can't wait to see what you pick!

Anonymous | March 10, 2008 6:22 PM | Reply

Some interesting ideas but so far one of my own nominations, Flash for Freedom, is in the box seat

Lynn | March 20, 2008 1:08 PM | Reply

Cool idea for a challenge and thanks for sharing. I'm most of the way through 3 already so think I'll join the cause! Wanted to read the book on Kony based on your previous post but tumwijuke is making me think twice. Maybe I'll just keep reading the newspapers about him. Enjoy the reads!

What do you think?