Great African Reads discussion

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Anything on Africa > Visits to Africa

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message 1: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
I have only been to Egypt but I read a book called "the other Nile" I think...must check on that but having been to Egypt really affected how I felt when I was reading the parts about Alexandria and Cairo. I really felt connected in a way I had never felt before when I had read about Egypt. And I knew so many of the places; the author described things so well. While I was in Egypt I read two novels by Egyptian writers that were set mostly in Alexandria. It was nice to be there with the atmosphere...moody December weather, heavy rain causing water to spill onto the corniche and then read about a character driving in that weather. I liked it. I would like to reread every book I read about Egypt before going there. However, it also makes me realize how much I am missing when I read about other countries.


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

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
yes, it was "The Other Nile" by Charlie Pye-Smith and the two novels i read while i was there were Miramir by Mahfouz and "No One Sleeps in Alexandria" by ibrahim abdel meguid.


message 3: by Friederike (new)

Friederike Knabe (fknabe) | 162 comments I have been in a number of African countries, mainly work related but enjoyed my stays as much as a holiday... West Africa: Mali, Senegal; East Africa: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya; Southern Africa: Lesotho, South Africa; North Africa: Algeria, Egypt.

My reading has been very much influenced by my visits and my interest in African literature and lit about Africa has grown tremendously. I read books dealing with topics and by authors beyond the countries I have visited/stayed in.




message 4: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments I've only been to a couple of African countries: South Africa (seven months over the course of two years) and holidays in Tunisia in 1999. South Africa was primarily work but also some holidays. My interest and fascination with Africa really sparked off then. What struck me most was the smell there. I live in Australia and upon my return, I noticed that Melbourne really has no smell, whereas in South Africa the air just seemed to be livid with all sorts of smells (quite often I found, it simply reeked...). And life in general seemed much more intense.


message 5: by Katy (new)

Katy | 81 comments What interesting observations about South Africa, Muphyn. I agree that the air in SA is often aromatic. In winter, it is most often smoke that you smell from all the brush fires. :)

I lived in Zimbabwe for 8 months (1999/2000), and have since been very interested in reading both fiction and non-fiction from there. Then I spent 2 years in South Africa (9/2005-9/2007), and have visited several other countries in both south and east Africa. Reading about Africa sparked my interest in the continent initially and made me want to visit. Now, having been there makes everything so much more real and alive. Being able to picture or at least imagine the areas and people I read about makes books more meaningful to me.

And I agree with Marieke that reading about countries I have not yet visited makes me remember how much more there is to see!




message 6: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 660 comments I've only been to Kenya, but I feel as if there are places, especially in West Africa that writers have made very real for me. I agree that one of the things that is more vivid in a place one has actually visited is the sense of smell. A writer can describe it but you can't really understand it without some experience. Elspeth Huxley describes the smell of the Kenyan Highlands so perfectly. Good writers make me feel as if I've been to a place already, however.


message 7: by Dana (new)

Dana I'd feel like an irresponsible tourist if I went to a country without reading about it first. But I also agree with Marieke, that then I want to re-read because I bet I'd get even more out of the book, but there are so many books!


message 8: by Dana (new)

Dana Has anyone been to both Tanzania and Botswana? My husband and I are in disagreement of which one to visit for safari purposes.


message 9: by Muphyn (new)

Muphyn | 816 comments Dana wrote: "Has anyone been to both Tanzania and Botswana? My husband and I are in disagreement of which one to visit for safari purposes."

I haven't been to either but I've heard that Tanzania, esp. Zanzibar, is just absolutely fabulous and luscious and amazing and ... but then again, i think Botswana is probably really exciting and wonderful too. that's no help to you though, is it?! ;)


message 10: by Friederike (last edited Feb 02, 2009 06:12AM) (new)

Friederike Knabe (fknabe) | 162 comments Dana wrote: "Has anyone been to both Tanzania and Botswana? My husband and I are in disagreement of which one to visit for safari purposes."

I haven't been either, but went on Safari in Kenya close to the Tanzanian border. If a safari is your interest, I would go with Tanzania. From what I know Botswana is very different and you might want to keep it for another visit...

However, if you have read and liked McCall Smith or the lesser known new A Carrion Death Introducing Detective Kubu you might choose Botswana instead...


message 11: by Katy (new)

Katy | 81 comments Muphyn wrote: "Dana wrote: "Has anyone been to both Tanzania and Botswana? My husband and I are in disagreement of which one to visit for safari purposes."

I haven't been to either but I've heard that Tanzania,..."


Both Tanzania and Botswana are great for safaris, though different. Botswana is drier, unless you're in the Okavango Delta. But I agree with Muphyn -- if you're in Tanzania, you *must* go to Zanzibar, too, and it is one of the most fascinating destinations in Africa! So my vote would be for Tz.



message 12: by Shiloh (new)

Shiloh | 4 comments Dana wrote: "Has anyone been to both Tanzania and Botswana? My husband and I are in disagreement of which one to visit for safari purposes."


Hi Dana. I have been to Tanzania twice and lived in Botswana for about a year and a half of combined time. Both are beauutiful, but i do think i would agree that you would see a bit more and diverse wildlife in TZ than Botswana. When we lived there, we went into the Delta and visited Chobe and Botswana is famous for their elephants, but we mostly went to South Africa for safari. Tanzania seems a bit more touristy, but if you get to go into the Ngorogoro crater, there is a lot of wildlife in there. Either way, you will have a fabulous experience. Going on safari is one of my favorite life experiences. Take a camera with a good zoom.



message 13: by Shiloh (last edited Feb 13, 2009 10:58AM) (new)

Shiloh | 4 comments Also, I do agree that either going, or having been to a place greatly affects your choices in books and how they effect you. Whenever i read something about Botswana, it speaks to my heart in a way other books about places I don't identify with can't.

I have been to South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozamique, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, and Rwanda.


message 14: by Dana (new)

Dana Shiloh wrote: "Also, I do agree that either going, or having been to a place greatly affects your choices in books and how they effect you. Whenever i read something about Botswana, it speaks to my heart in a wa..."

Wow Shiloh, you've been to so many places!
We did decide on Tanzania. We are going with Tanzania Odyssey for the tour operator after inquiring with 8 different operators. We'll be there in August. I'm so excited!
We've been watching a lot of National Geographic DVDs and reading books. Do you have any Tanzania related books to recommend?


message 15: by AJ (new)

AJ Payne | 3 comments Dana,

You're going to have a great time in Tanzania. Have you decided which park/s to visit?

I read "Tales from Tanzania" which is hilarious. I would recommend reading it while on safari, or else shortly after you get back. It will be all the funnier. You can also read "Tanzania: the Land and it's People" The editing is terrible, but it's an interesting book written by a Tanzanian to get a little background on the country.

Another one I recommend, though it doesn't take place in Tanzania, is "Secrets of the Savanna." If you're interested in elephants (and you will see a ton in Tanzania) it's a good read. It takes place in Zambia.




message 16: by Dana (new)

Dana AJ wrote: "Dana,

You're going to have a great time in Tanzania. Have you decided which park/s to visit?

I read "Tales from Tanzania" which is hilarious. I would recommend reading it while on safari, or..."


Hi AJ,
Thanks for the book tips!
We are going to Serengeti, Tarangire, Ngorongoro crater, Olduvai gorge, Lake Manyara, and then Zanzibar!
My husband and I are ridiculously excited. He's reading John Reader's tome, and I'm reading Martin Meredith, though both are about the entire continent. I don't think we are going to make it through those, we might want to pause and read Tales from Tanzania instead. We also recently picked up a zoom lens so are going to the zoo soon to practice!





message 17: by Bernadette (new)

Bernadette (bernadettesimpson) Okay, this thread has just made me want to travel SO much more, if that was even possible!

Besides Egypt, where I currently live...actually I live on the Sinai peninsula now which is technically Asia...I've visited South Africa, Swaziland, Kenya, and Tanzania.

For me, the books become so much more alive when they are set in countries I have visited.


message 18: by AJ (new)

AJ Payne | 3 comments Dana wrote: "AJ wrote: "Dana,

You're going to have a great time in Tanzania. Have you decided which park/s to visit?

I read "Tales from Tanzania" which is hilarious. I would recommend reading it while on saf..."


Dana,

Oh, both the book you are reading and the one your husband is reading are great. I have to say, I am partial to John Reader's, but I like them both a lot.

Sounds like you will have a fantastic trip! Zanzibar is especially fantastic. You have to go to the night market they have every night on the water front. Right now, with the construction going on in Forodhani Gardens, the market is in front of the Africa House hotel. Check it out! Also, though a little cliche, the spice tours are really great too.


message 19: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 660 comments I read "Desertion" by Zanzabari author Abdulrazak Gurnah several years ago and have recently found that his has several novels. I'm planning to read more, as "Desertion" was very good.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

My application was accepted and I'll be going to Botswana for a seminar on HIV and public health this spring!


message 21: by Vicky (new)

Vicky (thesevagabondshoes) | 1 comments Botswana is somewhere I've always wanted to visit. A friend from uni lives ut there, so I've been waiting for an opportunity to go meet her. You'll have a great time.

I've been to Malawi, Morocco and Ghana. I think that Ghana was my favourite, but all had their positives and negatives.


message 22: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Wow! Congratulations, Sho!!


message 23: by Friederike (last edited Jan 14, 2012 05:24AM) (new)

Friederike Knabe (fknabe) | 162 comments I traveled to Mali - my fifth visit in all over a close to 20 year span... It was great to visit friends and travel into the northern part again where I was last 14 years ago. The Dogon country is the best known for the famous cliffs of Bandiagara, but there is a lot more of interest to see.

While there, I discovered contemporary Malian writers... especially Moussa Konate. Unfortunately, his books have not been translated into English. He writes 'detective' stories that have a strong anthropological message. Each novel introduces the reader to a different ethnic culture, their traditions and myths. I have posted reviews of his latest on GR (and amazon.com) in case anybody is interested and reads French. Moussa Konate


message 24: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
:(
Have they been translated into German? I guess it's really high time I learn French.


message 25: by Friederike (new)

Friederike Knabe (fknabe) | 162 comments Marieke wrote: ":(
Have they been translated into German? I guess it's really high time I learn French."


Will have to check and let you know. His French is lovely and not too difficult. He has his own publishing house now and mentors young authors. That is quite an achievement in a country where reading - in contrast to listening and telling of stories - is not yet a passtime for most.


message 26: by Friederike (new)

Friederike Knabe (fknabe) | 162 comments Marieke wrote: ":(
Have they been translated into German? I guess it's really high time I learn French."


No, leider nichts auf Deutsch... Italian if that helps... Better learn French!


message 27: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Pech!

Indeed, I think French would be easier than Italian...plus it's the original language of his books. But Italian would also be lovely to learn...


message 28: by Andrea (new)

Andrea | 660 comments Congratulations, Sho! That's great news.


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A Carrion Death (other topics)

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Moussa Konaté (other topics)