Great African Reads discussion

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Archived | General > Rude question - African and non-African authors

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message 1: by Manu (new)

Manu (manuherb) | 166 comments I apologize in advance to anyone who might find this question lacking in courtesy.
Do you prefer to read books on Africa and novels set in Africa, written by non-Africans? If so, why?
For a book-length consideration of the implications of this question, I strongly recommend DRC historian Jacques Depelchin's Silences in African History: between the syndromes of discovery and abolition, published by MKuki Na Nyakota in Dar es Salaam. Amazon reports 15 new, 9 used available right now.

message 2: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
i don't think it's a rude question! it's very valid. what do others think? what do you think, manu??

i like to read both. i think i've read more books by africans, though. but i don't have a problem with non-africans writing about can provide an interesting perspective...however, i'm always curious to know what africans think of those writings!!

i also enjoy reading books and novels about the united states written by non-americans or new americans...i especially enjoy books by recent immigrants, or the children of immigrants. it can be very refreshing to look at america through the eyes of someone not as jaded as myself about the social problems/government policies (foreign and domestic) that we have here. although sometimes i feel terribly ashamed of my fellow native-ish born americans...reading things written by sudanese "lost boys" is a case in point.

i'm going to try to get that book you mention above from work.

message 3: by Muphyn (last edited Oct 24, 2008 06:16PM) (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments Hi Manu,

I totally agree with Marieke - your question isn't a rude question at all!! I think it's good you brought it up!

I can't really add much to what Marieke has already said about reading books by African and non-African writers alike. They can provide very different though very interesting perspectives. I'd probably be more inclined to focus on African writers in general since their experiences and insights would be vastly different - I imagine - from my perspective as a "Western person", having grown up in Europe.

While I enjoy novels set in Africa written by non-Africans to some extent, they are often (not always though) written from a mindset that either sees Africa as the dark continent lost without hope or they seem to espouse almost romantic ideals or notions about Africa. neither being very true to reality, I'm sure.

I like reading non-fiction by non-Africans of the memoir type because they tend to involve profound changes in people's lifestyle, attitudes or personality, etc. And that's probably what I find most interesting about these kind of books. But this is by no means to say that I wouldn't want to read non-fiction books by African writers - on the contrary!

I think in a nutshell I'd just really like to read some literature (fiction/non-fiction - doesn't matter) by Africans, even though it'll be harder for me to get my hands on it because African literature doesn't seem to make its way over to Australia all too often. but anything is possible with the internet these days... :)

Hm... so much for not having much to add to Marieke's comment. ;) What are your thoughts, Manu? Would you prefer to read mainly books by African authors?

message 4: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
maybe we should make this into some sort of poll question for the group. i think it's really interesting.

message 5: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments yes, we could do a poll! :) I've been thinking about this a bit more and I think I'd like to read a mixture of both - I don't think we need to be *restricted* one way or another... ? other thoughts?

message 6: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
i think a mixture is good; i just hope all participants are comfortable sharing their thoughts and perspectives.
i'm getting a lot of ideas for polls! i think polls will be fun! and anonymous, yes?

message 7: by Muphyn (last edited Oct 24, 2008 08:09PM) (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments re. polls... no, apparently GR people are still working on making them anonymous (as an option) - they're currently not anonymous. :( (there's lots of debate surrounding that...)

message 8: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
oh, well, still fun! i just made one. i wanted to see how it works.

message 9: by Christine (new)

Christine durant | 1 comments I think African writers don't get enough credit, and part of this is generally more popular books - novels and non-fiction written by Europeans, americans which I think is a shame. I don't think a non-african could capture Ben Okri's both cosmological world nor the political situation in the same way. Jack Mupanje's poetry also. I read both, but I take African writers as being more credible, and that literature from Africa ought to be explored more, the world of the African writer is yet too small in contrast to other colleagues in other parts of the world. anyway, that is my little rant. When looking for books, I try to read the works by the few African writers I have access to. Just a preference.

message 10: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 3 comments I'll try to put in a word with the tech people to create an anonymous poll option!

message 11: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments Elizabeth, that would be great!! An anonymous poll option would really be terrific! Thanks for putting in a word!! :)

message 12: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
yes, thanks elizabeth! from my vantage, it's not so much a matter of secrecy, but influence. for instance, i was torn between two characters for the poll i created but then i saw how muphyn voted and i hesitated; decided i needed to rethink things. i think anonymous polls would be very helpful, more fun, somehow...

message 13: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 3 comments Hi guys, I talked to the tech guys. Good news, they are going to make anonymous polls. The bad news, it will probably take about a month. So, it's coming soon!

message 14: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments But that's great news Elizabeth!! Looking forward to the new feature. Thanks!

message 15: by Manu (new)

Manu (manuherb) | 166 comments Muphyn aks:

What are your thoughts, Manu? Would you prefer to read mainly books by African authors?

Would I, Muphyn? Yes, with just a few exceptions.

Recent months' reading, in no particular order:
Athol Fugard, Tsotsi (the novel)
Etienne van Heerden, Toorberg (in Afrikaans)
John van de Ruit, Spud (South African best-seller - I didn't make it past page 50)
Mohammed Naseehu Ali, The Prophet of Zongo Street
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
Henrietta Rose-Innes, Shark's Egg
Pepetela, Jamie Bunda Secret Agent
Peter Nazareth, In a Brown Mantle (1972)
Kgebetli Moele, Room 207
Zakes Mda, The Madonna of Excelsior
Bloke Modisane, Blame me on History (1963)
Dan Sleigh, Islands
Sefi Atta, Everything Good Will Come
Yvette Christiansë, Unconfessed.
Antjie Krog, Met Woorde Soos Met Kerse (an occasional dip)
R E Obeng, Eighteenpence (1943)
Niq Mhlongo, After Tears

Non Africans:
Kwame Dawes, She's Done (born in Accra, but left as an infant - I knew his parents)
Peter Fryer, Rhythms of Resistance, African Musical Heritage in Brazil
Kevin K. Gaines, American Africans in Ghana

And just one book without an African connection:
E. Annie Proulx, The Shipping News (second hand copy found in Accra)

Should I be ashamed of the narrowness of my perspective?

message 16: by Coalbanks (new)

Coalbanks | 4 comments Not a rude question to my non-african mind but a good question to consider. Why do I, a non-african, want to read about Africa/Africans? Do I know enough about the cultures to understand what I'm reading? Is writing so ethno-centric that outsiders can't write about other culture? Or evan read them? Is it wrong to write in another 'voice"? I hope not. I read to learn, to be entertained, to fantasize, so books by authours from/about cultures unknown to me are generally much more interesting then those about my own culture. To date I have read mostly books by outsiders looking at Africa or by "old Africa-hands" or those of the "white-tribes of Africa" who had learned something of the cultures & wrote about them from their own point of view or wrote about their own fellow colonials/settlers/travellers whose cultures they knew & understood as they tried to make their place in Africa - Hemingway, Blixen, Van der Post, Coetzee, Brink, Gordimer, Burton, Herodotus. Books by African writers are still very much new territory to me. I look forward to the experience.

message 17: by Muphyn (last edited Nov 03, 2008 02:00AM) (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments Manu, no, not at all should you be ashamed of your perspective!! And I don't think it's necessarily narrow at all. I suspect it is really very problematic to speak of Africa as if it constituted a single whole. I've been to Northern Africa and I've been to South Africa, and I would dare to say these regions are world's apart (not to mention other regions). So I think reading mainly African writers offers an enormously rich and broad perspective. I certainly want to read much of the literature that African writers offer!

But I also suspect that "we non-Africans" sometimes tend to read more books about Africa by non-Africans because they are more accessible and promoted more widely (?). I don't know. I think both can offer interesting insights and views (not sure to what degree books by non-AFricans can offer anything to Africans (?)). Though, as I said in an earlier post, I am weary of novels set in Africa written from idealistic and romantic view points. There are plenty of those around and lots of people love them, but they don't really give me much insight into the "mind(s) of Africans".

The list of your recent reads looks very interesting - I'll add them to my (out of control) to-read list. Have you read any of Marlene van Niekerk's books? I bought "Agaat" and "Triompf" (English translations) on my last trip to South Africa but i don't know whether they're actually interesting or not. they just looked at me and I grabbed them (and i ended up having excess baggage!)... :)

Coalbanks, "white tribes of Africa", that's an interesting expression. I seem to have a vague notion in my head that that's the title of a book or something... is that a commonly used term or your "creation"?

message 18: by Coalbanks (new)

Coalbanks | 4 comments I've read/heard it from various commentators on Africa - generally referring to Afrikaners/Boers & Anglo-South Africans, white settlers in "Rhodesia" & Kenya.

The White Tribe of Africa (Perspectives on Southern Africa)
by David Harrison

message 19: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments thanks Coalbanks! another book to read. :)

message 20: by Coalbanks (new)

Coalbanks | 4 comments So many books - so little time. Anon.?

message 21: by Manu (new)

Manu (manuherb) | 166 comments I'll have to pass on the current reading selections. It's just too expensive to have books sent to Ghana; and I have at least 5 metres of shelf-length of books waiting to be read anyway.
Muphyn, I also bought Triomf on my last visit to SA but haven't read it yet. Triomf was "built on the ruins of old Sophiatown." I have recently read Bloke Modisane's Blame Me on History in which the principal character, after Bloke himself, is Sophiatown. It will be interesting to compare the two books.

I am currently reading Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes (2007), sent to me, suitably inscribed, by the author in exchange for a copy of my own novel, Ama, a Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade (2001). Hill's first-person narrator, Aminata Diallo, is a 68-year old woman, writing her life story in London in 1802. My protagonist, Ama, born about 1760 and thus Aminata's near-contemporary (give or take a generation or two) has her story told by an ominiscient narrator. Aminata's story stretches from Mali to the U.S, to Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone; Ama's from Dagbon, through Kumasi and Elmina to Bahia. Comparing the two is a fascinating exercise (for me, at least) but I've resolved to keep my conclusions to myself.

When it was announced that J.M.G. Le Clézio had won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature, I looked him up. I found that his novel Onitsha had been published in a translation by Alison Anderson in 1997. (Publisher: University of Nebraska Press.) My younger son and his family are based in Barcelona, so I ordered a copy to be sent to him. He has just delivered it by hand. I plan to read it after Hill's book. So that's two novels in succession, set in Africa, written by non-Africans.

message 22: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 660 comments Very interesting discussion. What a great group. I am an American by birth and Kenyan by marriage. I enjoy books set in Africa or about Africa by both groups (African and non) but I also read British, American, Indian, Canada etc authors. Don't most of us? I'm fascinated by why some authors, of whatever ethnicity, choose to write about their own time and place, and why others choose to move into the unfamiliar (I'm a writing and literature teacher, as you may guess). Some do so beautifully, bringing an outsider's eye, but with sensitivity. Others are so hamfisted they ought to be boycotted by all people of taste. But I've learned as much about cultural assumptions and writing from reading bad books as good ones. Personally, right now I'm trying to read more books by African authors as I think I learn more that way.

message 23: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
this is a great group!! manu has the most interesting things to say and books to recommend. and i like that he does a lot of reading with comparison in mind. it would be really neat to have another "book club" like the "read our way through africa" club with manu as an inspiration, if not a leader of such discussions. may i nominate you manu? :)

message 24: by Friederike (new)

Friederike Knabe (fknabe) | 162 comments hi Manu and all, I am new here but wanted to comment to you about the books you mentioned in your last post: your own - which is on my TBR file for a little while; Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes which I liked tremendously and Le Clezio's Onitsha which I have just finished reading. Probably three completely different perspectives on Africa... I think, though they make the point made by several here that reading books by African and non-African authors on Africa is worthwhile, important and often illuminating. I used to buy all the African novels in the Heineman's African library - a series of paperback editions of a wide range of African authors from across the continent (mainly anglophone). Unfortunately there is nothing like this program anymore and it must, as a result, be a lot more difficult to promote African writers and let interested non-African readers know what rich diversity and quality writing is out there.

I am curious to hear your assessment of both Hill and Le Clezio.

message 25: by Manu (new)

Manu (manuherb) | 166 comments Friederike wrote: "I am curious to hear your assessment of both Hill and Le Clezio."

Friederike, I've finished reading both books but, sorry, an answer will have to wait. What about your assessment, though?

I'm off to South Africa for 6 weeks on Friday. Shall I take both books with me and write up my comments while I'm enjoying the Cape summer? But that will mean I can bring two books less with me on my return journey to Ghana. Something to think about.

In the meantime, I've just been reading J.M.G. Le Clézio's Nobel Prize oration and I thought you might like to have the link if you haven't already seen it.(

His dedication, by the way, includes, ". . . all those writers with whom — or sometimes against whom —I have lived. To the Africans: Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Ahmadou Kourouma, Mongo Beti, to Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country, to Thomas Mofolo's Chaka. . ."

Now back to a non-literary cliff-hanger: Ghana's election results.

message 26: by Friederike (new)

Friederike Knabe (fknabe) | 162 comments Hi Manu, thanks for the link to Le Clézio's Nobel lecture, I had not seen it. I am not surprised that he credits all these writers. I am starting his "Desert" now, I'm not sure it has been translated yet. Beautifully written as well.

To answer my question to you and returned to me - Hill and Le Clézio are not really comparable I find, thinking about it. Hill's book is a rich panorama of time and space, using actual events and people as context. Ontisha does that to a degree only to create atmosphere, but zooms in on personal and intimate relationships between the main protagonists and through them addresses colonialism, racism on the one hand and the romantic exploration of the culture and the local people on the other. In a way it's a love story to African culture and peoples.

I understand the election are a tight run...

message 27: by Mdenney (new)

Mdenney | 2 comments I agree that both African and non-African writers are important if you want to get a sense of a place, and to understand very different experiences. There are things that I like and dislike about both- for example, I find some of the popular books on Africa by non-Africans really poorly written or patronizing, or both. On the other hand, I find some of the works by African authors rather hard to access because some of the writing is based on deep cultural experience that I have simply not had enough exposure to to really understand. Ultimately I appreciate someone who writes well enough for me to share the experience of another human in a moving way.

message 28: by Nina (new)

Nina Chachu | 206 comments Hi to all. I am new to this group, though not to Africa or African writing or writing on Africa. I don't restrict myself to books written by Africans, partly out of choice, but also out of availability [I live in Ghana, and there isn't exactly a wide choice available:]. I look forward to being a part of the group.

message 29: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 3 comments Hello All,
I wanted to let you know that you can now create an anonymous poll. So perhaps we can put those discussion questions to the test...
Happy New Year,

message 30: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Thanks Elizabeth!! Happy new year! Here's to a ton of reading in '09!

message 31: by Dana (new)

Dana | 25 comments Hello all,
I am also new to this group and new to reading about Africa as well as fairly new to reading African authors. (I've only read one book by Coetzee and one by Achebe.) I've also read A Primate's Memoir by Sapolsky and Heart of Darkness by Conrad-- who really exemplifies the "noble savage" notion that was also ascribed to native American/indians. Anyhow, I'm very excited to join the group as I've gotten more into this subject matter through the route of planning a safari trip to East Africa. I have John Reader and Martin Meredith's tomes of African history at my bedside and look forward to the many more that are suggested by the group.

I'm curious about a comment that was made a while ago by Marieke about reading books by non-Americans about the US. Fiction? Could you give me some suggestions? Nothing comes to mind immediately and I'm very curious!

I'm very glad this group is on GR! Thanks moderators!

(American residing in US)

PS. There's a website called book crossing that's somewhat difficult to navigate but is about sending books to others or leaving them and then tracking where the go. I've received a request for books in the past by a boy living on the continent of Africa. I'd be happy to mail some books to those who have written that it's difficult to get them (Ghana?).

message 32: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments Dana wrote: "Hello all,
I am also new to this group and new to reading about Africa as well as fairly new to reading African authors. (I've only read one book by Coetzee and one by Achebe.) I've also read A P..."

Just wanted to say, hello Dana, nice to have you on board! Looking forward to your input in discussions of books to do with all things African. Since you're planning a safari trip to East Africa, when and where exactly are you off to?

message 33: by Dana (last edited Jan 21, 2009 01:55PM) (new)

Dana | 25 comments Muphyn,

We are looking at Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana, though not all three in one trip. Tanzania for sure but then to Kenya (how is the war going) or to Botswana (clear in the other direction). We are aiming for July/August for the migration though the prices are higher :(
We are also trying to figure out the eco-culturally friendly way to be tourists on safari.

I read you've been to Tunisia and SA.

message 34: by Barbara (new)

Barbara I can recommend a Tanzanian friend of mine as a safari guide. He's worked for 7 years as a Kilimanjaro mountain guide with one of the big tour companies, and now is adding safari trips on his own, at a lower price than the companies. His name is Kaen Kapange and email is If you're interested, I can send you a link to an article by Tom Bissell that appeared in the New York Times and features Kaen as Tom's guide.

message 35: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments Dana wrote: "Muphyn,

We are looking at Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana, though not all three in one trip. Tanzania for sure but then to Kenya (how is the war going) or to Botswana (clear in the other direction)...."

Sounds like a great trip!! I'd love to go and see more of Africa some day. I recently saw a documentary about a family business in Namibia trying to provide eco-friendly safaris - was really interesting. Apparently it's becoming hugely popular (which is good).

message 36: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Dana wrote: "Hello all,
I am also new to this group and new to reading about Africa as well as fairly new to reading African authors. (I've only read one book by Coetzee and one by Achebe.) I've also read A P..."

hi dana,
sorry for such a delay in getting back to this had a question about a comment i had made earlier in the thread regarding books describing life in the U.S. by non-Americans or "new" Americans. yes, i was thinking of fiction or travel literature by visitors or recent immigrants. or people who grew up in the U.S. but whose parents immigrated here or they themselves did as small children. i'll scour my bookshelves and send you some recommendations, i can't think of any off the top of my head, except for novels/stories by juhmpa lahiri, nabokov, gary shteyngart, khaled hosseini...

message 37: by Dana (last edited Jan 22, 2009 07:17PM) (new)

Dana | 25 comments Marieke wrote: "Dana wrote: "Hello all,
I am also new to this group and new to reading about Africa as well as fairly new to reading African authors. (I've only read one book by Coetzee and one by Achebe.) I've ..."

After I wrote that I came across this:

Which is just a short story of Maik Nwosu coming to the US and his initial experiences.

Of course, The Namesake! How did I miss that recent one!

message 38: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 660 comments Hi All,
I certainly wouldn't want to influence anybody else's travel plans, but for what it's worth, presently Kenya is quite safe, esp. for tourists. The post-election violence affected almost exclusively poor Kenyans in slums and rural areas anyway, so never really affected tourists much, except in their imaginations. My husband will be in Kenya for the next six weeks or so, so I could let you know what he sees when he gets back middle of March. Seeing the Aberdares and Nakuru National Park have been some of the highlights of my life to date (haven't been to Tsavo or Mara).

message 39: by Christina (new)

Christina | 17 comments Hi all,
I have been to many different parts of Africa. West east and southern Africa and spent longer periods there. And all I can say is that I am hocked...Every time I go there I feel like I am coming home and whenever I leave part of my heart stays. I read books about Africa to get a better understanding of this amazing continent and to dream away and pretend that I am there.
My question to this group is how you define "African " and "Non-African" authors?
I often come across people who believe that "Africans" are blacks while this often offends the white population living in many of these countries for generations. During my recent trip to South Africa I spent a lot of time with some young Afrikaners and it gave me reason to reconsider my view of "African". I myself probably tend to view black authors as more "authentic" but this is probably not quite fair What is clear though in my mind is that the realities of these groups are very different which is why their books differ greatly.

But I would like to hear how you define African and non-African in this group.

message 40: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 660 comments Personally, I think anyone who is born and lives in a place, or has lived there a good portion of their adult life and identifies that as their home is "African." Nadine Gordimer, for example, is certainly an African writer in my book. So is Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye. I don't think the group as a whole has a consensus definition.

message 41: by Muphyn (last edited Apr 30, 2009 04:13PM) (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments Kiki, that's an interesting question and it raises a lot of issues.

As for the group, I don't think there's an established "group notion" on how to define "African" and "non-African" - I'd venture to say that individual members would see these "concepts" quite differently.

Identity is always a complex issue no matter from which angle you approach it. I'd probably sit along the lines of what Andrea said about African being largely defined as someone who was born in Africa. For me personally, it has little to do with the skin colour (though I hear what you say). I think the perception in Western society tends to be that Africans are black - it's a little different in Australia as we have a lot of (white) South African expats and also Sudanese refugees (obviously very different socio-economic groups and the perceptions probably vary widely as to their "Africaness").

Anyway, for the purpose of reading books, "non-African" writers refers to, say, Americans or Europeans writing from their "outside" perspective (irrespective of whether they have been to Africa or not). I realise it's not as easy as that but I think it serves the purpose for identifying books/authors here. :) Just my view though. :)

message 42: by Christina (new)

Christina | 17 comments Dear Andrea and Muphyn,
Thank you. What you are saying makes sense and is probably how I also would define "African" and "Non African" as well. Since I am very new to this group I just wanted to make sure I understand the terminology before getting into other debates :-)

So to the first question posed here I must say that for me it doesn't matter.
Sometimes "outsiders" see things locals don't. I am from Sweden and find it interesting to hear how others perceive Sweden. It might not be how I see it but I can still learn something about my own country by listening to these outside perspectives. (I almost fell off my chair laughing seeing a episode form the Daily Show - a comedy show in the States- talking about how republicans are scared of the US becoming a socialist country like Sweden) On the other hand it seems to me that many countries in Africa have many "truths". If you write a book about for instance South Africa it will vary greatly depending on which "African" has written it. Every perspective though ads a small piece to the picture of Africa I have.

I am currently reading "The Covenant" by James A. Michener and although he is a non African I believe that he can describe South Africa's history in a way that is perhaps a bit more detached from emotional values than native South Africans would. I am fully aware that it is fiction but still I find that it helps me understand some of the people I met during my stay in SA. I do however wish that I could discuss the book with South Africans who have read the book to find out what they think of his "history" description. Anyone in this group??

message 43: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Hi Kiki,
I agree with what Andrea and Muphyn said and i think manu's original question had to do with outsider versus insider perspective but identity can be really confusing...what about those whose families left Africa and raised them abroad, but then they return "home" later on in life? they also have interesting perspectives...

anyway, don't hesitate to "debate", kiki...everyone is friendly here and we like discussing and getting other people's ideas about things.

i'm like you, i really enjoy reading stories about the U.S. that visitors or immigrants have written...things that seem so normal to me because they've just always been that way...suddenly become absurd and confusing. fun!!

lol---there is indeed a *lot* of confusion here about what "socialism" is... ;)

and feel free to start a discussion thread about "the covenant" might get some bites! i haven't read it yet but i've read other books by michener and really enjoyed them and learned a great deal. however, when i read them, i didn't have any israelis, polish people, alaskans, or hawaiians to ask for feedback...seems like you'll have a rich resource here if you have questions about how michener describes something!

message 44: by Lynne (new)

Lynne (lmsindel) | 30 comments I loved "The Covenant" and would really enjoy discussing it and other fictional writings. I'm not African, but I am a willing "disscusser".

message 45: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 660 comments I read The Covenant so long ago, that it's vague in my mind. But if I can find a copy, I could brush up on it. I read it long before I knew much of anything about Africa and found it helpful background.

Everyone's comments on identity are interesting and helpful. I have noticed that ideas about who belongs and who doesn't really vary from country to country and also from individual to individual. In Kenya, for example, white Kenyans are pretty much accepted as their own "tribe." But people like me, who married into Kenyan society from outside, are considered members of our spouse's ethnic group. Yes, I have been discriminated against because of my Kenyan tribe:). It was a very weird experience to be told,"All you people think that" and realize they were referring to me as a member of an African ethnic group (I'm an American of Swiss/Euro ancestry).

message 46: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
wow, andrea! that's such an interesting comment. i was about to remark that it would be terrific if some africans in the group would chime in...and then you did! ;-)

yes, a separate thread for the covenant would be terrific. now i'm hankering to read it...too many books in my stack right now, though! sigh.

message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

I think I do prefer it - simply and only because I am myself not African therefore I can relate more directly to the 'outsider' viewpoint just as, say, a Kenyan would more easily relate to his compatriot's than a visitor or ex-settler's voice. This is of course a generalisation - I still enjoy reading African writers but I think my own personal history and experience makes it a no brainer that I will connect more easily to English writers. It's perfectly logical and a matter of common sense. There, I've said it!

message 48: by Manu (new)

Manu (manuherb) | 166 comments This might be of interest. I'm one of the 250, with Ramseyer's Ghost (not a ghost story), set in Ghana in 2050. Fat chance of even getting short-listed. Writing novels is a mug's game.

Penguin Prize for African Writing Update!

10th March 2010

Penguin Books has been both delighted and overwhelmed at the response we received for the Penguin Prize for African Writing. We received an unanticipated number of entries: around 250 manuscripts were submitted for the Fiction award and 50 for the Non-Fiction award, most of which were received just before the cut off date at the end of January. Entries have come from countries all across Africa, including Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Malawi and South Africa.

In our search for the best writing out of Africa, and in light of the astonishing number of entries received, Penguin Books had to extend the assessment time for manuscripts. The announcement of the shortlist will therefore take place in June 2010 and will be displayed on our website. The winners will still be announced in September.

We have been thrilled with the tremendous response to this inaugural prize and wish to express our sincere gratitude to all the writers from across the African continent who put fingertips to keyboards and hit the “send” button in order to get their manuscripts to us on deadline.

Alison Lowry

message 49: by Muphyn (last edited Mar 11, 2010 10:50PM) (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments Manu, that's great that you submitted your manuscript!! Will be waiting for the shortlist to come out in June - that's so exciting! :)

Given your comment, I assume it's in the fiction section?

message 50: by Nina (new)

Nina Chachu | 206 comments Manu: congrats! I look forward to reading your novel when it is in print, and of course, available in Accra!

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