Saturday, June 10, 2023

African authors you should know about

Have you got a jammed-packed agenda this holiday season? Do you have your accommodations and itineraries already sorted thanks to QVI Tripsavr? Or are you planning to just kick back and relax at home with family and friends?

Regardless of the vacation you’ve got planned, holidays are a great time to escape into books. And what better way to spend break time than to explore the works of some of Africa’s most celebrated authors?

Here’s a short and sweet list of five writers you should definitely check out, whether you’re heading to the beach, the mountains or lounging in your favourite chair at home.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Recognised as one of the most important authors to come out of Africa in recent years, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is primarily known for her courageous and fresh works of fiction. The Nigerian author has also become a prominent voice for the disenfranchised; writing on everything from racial inequality to feminism. Her short essay and speech We Should All Be Feminists has even been sampled in a Beyoncé song!

Essential reading: Half of a Yellow Sun, which tells the story of the Biafran War, is the author’s most celebrated work. However, just as important is Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions.

Ayi Kwei Armah

Ayi Kwei Armah’s work may be influenced by philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, but his style is all his own. Bold and acerbic, the veteran Ghanaian writer, poet and one-time schoolteacher has, from the start of his career, refused to conform to established norms, and in so doing, forged a new path for countless others to follow. He has also often tackled issues directly related to the people of his homeland.

Essential reading: The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, told from the point of view of a railway clerk in Accra who does his best to remain honest, stands out for its brilliance. It’s a towering work with one overarching takeaway, which even we entrepreneurs can take to heart — always prioritise ethical conduct.

Yaa Gyasi

Born in Ghana and raised in Alabama, United States, Yaa Gyasi’s work often mirrors her own experiences with identity and belonging. And it is this unique straddling of two worlds that makes her stories so compelling. Gyasi is often regarded as one of America’s brightest young writers, but make no mistake, she’s also clearly African, with an unbreakable bond to the land of her birth.

Essential reading: Homecoming and Transcendent Kingdom are both standout offerings. But if you have time for only one, make it the latter; a gorgeous piece of work that focuses on a young Ghanaian PhD candidate who turns to science to understand the world around her.

Mohamed Mbougar Sarr

Mohamed Mbougar Sarr’s reputation has grown from strength to strength. And that’s not just because he’s the first Sub-Saharan author to be awarded France’s most prestigious literary award, the Prix Goncourt. Rather, it’s that in such a short career, the Senagalese writer has refreshed the French language with his unique style and showed that African authors have as much a claim on French as anyone else.

Essential reading: La Plus Secrète Mémoire des Hommes (The Most Secret Memory of Men) is a phenomenal work that melds fact and fiction in telling the tale of an author who embarks on a quest to unearth his hero’s story. Part thriller, part writing masterclass, it has been called “a hymn to literature“.

Chinua Achebe

It’s impossible to compile a list of the continent’s outstanding literary figures without mentioning Chinua Achebe. The late Nigerian author, poet and critic was a titan in his field and one who wrote deftly about the challenges of identifying as African. It’s a testament to his brilliance and influence that he’s rightly regarded as the “Father of African Literature”.

Essential reading: Chronicling the life of the leader of an Igbo community, Things Fall Apart is Achebe’s magnum opus. It tells of the struggle between pre-colonial Africa and the arrival of change. The underlying lesson here being that it’s we ourselves who are responsible for our destiny.

Read and learn

The works by the authors listed above make for great vacation reads, yet their themes of self development and continuous learning are sure to resonate as well. If you’re inspired to break out of your comfort zone, look no further than qLearn‘s wide array of courses on leadership and management. You can even unlock your literary potential via the Presentation and Writing Skills programme!

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