This weeks topic is an easy one- our ten most recent reads! 2021 somehow started out strong for me in regards to how much reading I’ve gotten done.
Unlike Last year. I was in a not so great space mentally last year and that imparted on how much reading i got done. But this year has proven to be a bit kinder on my ability to focus and actually enjoy reading again and I made a decision to read more books from African authors this year and so far it’s been going great.
This week I will be sharing with you my newly discover books that i absolutely loved.
Chronicles of the Happiest People on Earth – Wole Soyinka
For the first time in nearly half a century, Wole Soyinka published a book in a year that turned out to be exceptional for many reasons.
The Nigerian Nobel laureate’s 524-page novel Chronicles of the Happiest People on Earth tells the story of four earnest friends who formed a pact, promising to use their talents and hard work to make a meaningful change to their country, Nigeria.
Years later, their enthusiasm is tempered by the comforts and compromises of ageing and the lingering disappointments of post-independence Nigeria.
First available in Nigeria, the novel will be available globally next year.
Technically, Ditlevsen’s memoirs first appeared in Danish in the late 1960s and early ’70s — three short, vibrant forays into the author’s young life in pre- to post-World War II Denmark, where she scrapped for secretarial jobs, fell in with touchy older mentors, and eventually rose to prominence. The trilogy’s publication this year in English (in one convenient volume) sparked a Tove craze. The author is candid about everything from botched abortions to the stultifying nature of life under Nazi rule. An edgier A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Copenhagen Trilogy is a discomfiting charmer that avoids the worst pitfall of the genre by refusing to turn into a redemption tale.
No Roses From My Mouth – Stella Nyanzi
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni will not appreciate these poems. It was after all under his rule that the academic and gender activist Stella Nyanzi was imprisoned for criticising the long-serving ruler.
Divided into three sections – In Prison, On Feminism and About Uganda, No Roses From My Mouth is an anthology of anger and frustration, but also of resilience.
After her release in February this year, Nyanzi did not cower, standing up to the state again as she runs for Parliament.
The Fourth Child, by Jessica Winter
The bloody pyrotechnics of pro-life organizations in the early ’90s, country-club drunks and their cruel domestic antics, the pre-internet teen scene in Buffalo: Jessica Winter’s sophomore novel is Franzen-esque in its broad sweep of a Rust Belt family coming down off the highs of mid-century American capitalism. (I say that as a huge compliment.) Winter starts with Jane Brennan’s accidental pregnancy in the late 1970s, then works through her tempestuous relationship with her shotgun husband and the push-and-pull dynamic with her eldest daughter Lauren, and finally into the utter displacement the Brennan family undergoes when Jane brings home Mirela, one of hundreds of thousands of “ Ceausescu’s children ” — Romanian children abandoned in orphanages in poor living conditions. Like Graham Greene before her, Winter is fascinated by the Catholic draw to suffering — Jane’s as a beleaguered mother, Lauren’s as a misunderstood young woman, and Mirela’s as a nearly feral outsider — and she manages to elegantly and movingly write a novel about faith that doesn’t proselytize or condemn.
Travelling While Black: Essays Inspired by a Life on the Move – Nanjala Nyabola
The passport is perhaps one of the clearest markers of national power, its power on display in queues at borders around the world. The relative humility of an African passport is not only felt in the arduous and expensive visa processes its carriers endure, but in the perceptions African tourists weather when we finally do cross the border.
Humanitarian advocate and political analyst Nanjala Nyabola crosses into foreign nations with humour and insight. In Travelling While Black, an essay collection inspired by a life on the move, Nyabola reflects on a world that seems to prefer that she had stayed put in Nairobi, but also one that embraces her and teaches us all about belonging as she stands out.
It is in the joy of not being noticed, however, that Nyabola subverts the dusty guidebook’s perceptions of travelling Africa and travelling while African.
America isn’t paradise, one of Engel’s characters thinks to herself in this tale of a cleaved immigrant family. Co-workers murder each other with semi-automatics, kids blow each other’s brains out at school. And violence isn’t held at bay by ICE; in fact, it’s often perpetuated by the people who fill the agency’s ranks. Infinite Country follows whats happens when one member of an undocumented Colombian family is deported. Engel writes beyond mere frustration or sadness or economic hardship — and she brings individuality to a story too often told in statistics and two-minute news reports.
Transcendent Kingdom – Yaa Gyasi
Transcendent Kingdom is the story of a grieving Ghanaian family in the American deep south. It is in the parallels between science and spirituality, of addiction and success, stoicism and vulnerability that Gyasi’s characters navigate the ideological idea and physical terrain of America as outsiders, and as insiders in the transposed world, they have created in Alabama. At the heart of this book is a relationship between a mother and daughter, simultaneously distant and suffocatingly close, not unlike the relationship between immigrants and home.