■ Beat travel restrictions and get a taste of the motherland from your home. Metro presents the best novels past and more recent
Cry, The Beloved Country
by Alan Paton (1948)
A classic of 20th-century literature, Paton’s lyrical novel drew global attention to the racial injustice in South Africa with its story of a Zulu pastor’s journey to Johannesburg in search of his son, imprisoned for the murder of a white man.
by JM Coetzee (1999)
The strained relationship between a university lecturer and his daughter Lucie is thrown into stark relief when the farm is attacked and his daughter raped in Coetzee’s milestone Booker winner about apartheid’s indelible legacy.
Season Of Migration To The North
by Tayeb Salih (1966)
After a spell at an English university, a Sudanese man returns to his newly liberated homeland, where he encounters a stranger who has also spent time in England. Their meeting sets in motion a series of violent events and revelations that cast deep light on the complex condition of the exile, in a novel now considered a landmark of Arabic literature.
by Leila Aboulela (2010)
A rich feel for period detail powers Leila Aboulela’s lushly written novel about the conflicting loyalties within a wealthy polygamous family in Khartoum, four years before Sudan gained independence.
A Grain Of Wheat
by Ngugi wa Thiong’o (1967)
Set in the days leading up to independence, this absolute cornerstone novel of Kenyan literature probes the complex feelings of guilt and disillusionment among a group of freedom fighters, collaborators and colonialists in a Kenyan village in the aftermath of the Mau Mau rebellion.
by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (2014)
The 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections in Kenya, which ushered in weeks of violent unrest, provide the backdrop to this acclaimed debut, which mixes Kenya’s post-independence history with the story of a fractured family’s buried secrets.
The Last King Of Scotland
by Giles Foden (1998)
Idi Amin’s eight-year rule of terror during the 1970s in Uganda must rank as one of the 20th century’s most barbaric. Foden’s novel takes the form of a memoir written by Amin’s fictional doctor as he becomes ever more complicit with the President’s depravity.
by Jennifer Makumbi (2014)
A cursed bloodline stretching back to 1750 forms the thrilling backbone to this multi-generational epic about the Ugandan Kintu clan as they struggle to rid themselves of the stain of personal and political history.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Heart Of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad (1899)
Conrad’s modernist novella is both a scorching criticism of colonial barbarity and an uncomfortable exemplar of imperial attitudes but it’s also an unparalleled journey into the darkest heart of the human psyche. Based on personal experience of King Leopold’s genocidal regime, it follows Conrad’s alter ego Marlow as he goes in search of the insane ivory trader Kurtz, living deep within the Congo jungle.
by Alain Mabanckou (2017)
Shortlisted for the Man Booker International, this Dickensian picaresque romp — it’s been described as an African Oliver Twist — follows orphanage escapee Moses as he tries to survive gang-ridden Pointe-Noire during the politically repressive 1970s and 1980s. Expect colourful storytelling and vividly realised scenery from a turbulent era.
Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe (1958)
You can’t talk about African literature without talking about Achebe. This, the first in a trilogy, was arguably the first great African novel to grapple with colonialism through its story of a 19th-century Igbo priest whose indigenous culture starts falling apart with the arrival of Bible-bearing Brits. It has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
Half Of A Yellow Sun
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006)
Adiche’s emotionally powered second novel explores the impact of Nigeria’s brutal civil war in the 1960s following Biafra’s declaration of succession on several intertwined characters including a Nigerian house boy, a teacher and a shy Englishman. bestseller, it won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2007.