World Book Day on 23 April is a symbolic date for world literature, encouraging more people to benefit from literacy and helping to build a better future through education.
Over the last hundred years African writers have shared their lives, experiences, culture, history and myth with the world.
To celebrate the achievements of African writers on World Book Day, we put together a list (in no particular order) of a few books by some of the many great African authors from the past century that every person passionate about Africa should read.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1958)
Set in Nigeria at the turn of the 19th century, this is a heart-breaking Modern Greek tragedy in which a flawed hero finds himself at odds with the rapidly changing world, a classic modern African novel.
Children of Gebelawiby Naguib Mahfouz (1981)
Originally serialised in a Cairo newspaper, Children of Gebelawi is an allegory for the religious history of the Jews, the Muslims and the Christians set in an alleyway in Cairo. It earned Mahfouz the Nobel Prize and an assassination attempt.
Season of Migration to the Northby Tayeb Salih (1966)
Beautifully rendered in lush poetic language, Salih’s story of a man returning to his Sudanese village from England is a bleak meditation on cross-cultural misunderstandings, as well as the confusions and contradictions within the human heart.
Disgrace by JM Coetzee (1999)
Winner of the Booker Prize and later awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, Coetzee’s novel follows a disgraced university lecturer, David Lurie, who is forced out of his post after an affair who is beginning to come to terms with his powerlessness. Bleak and powerful, with just a hint of the possibility of redemption.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2006)
Another Nigerian modern classic, set before and during the Biafran War in the late 1960s. Adichie’s novel won the Orange Prize for fiction in 2007. It describes the impact of a civil war on ordinary people and in its moral seriousness – it acts almost as a bookend to Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.