Top Ten Books About Africa

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Africa is a magical and mystical place, at once both troubled and inspirational. It's the sort of place that many people want to visit, but often don't. As the cold winter nights draw in, it becomes increasingly tempting to lose yourself in a book about warmer climes, to discover a world you're not familiar with, and get to know a fascinating continent. Our selection mixes fiction and non-fiction, books looking back and those looking forward, and books explicitly about Africa with those simply set there. They're all wonderful reads. Why not tell us about your favourite books about Africa?

The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam by Lauren Liebenberg


A beautiful but unsettling book set in pre-Zimbabwe Rhodesia. It ticks all Bookbag's boxes with its love of language, vivid voice of childhood, and underlying menace. Don't miss it. Full review...

Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott


Robyn Scott is nearly 7 when her family moved from genteel New Zealand to the rigours of the Botswana bush. Her anecdotes of the next ten years or so paint a beautiful picture of an amazing country and in many ways of a truly remarkable family. An absolute pleasure. Full review...

Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa by Peter Godwin


Three books for the price of one in this impeccable and non-judgemental book - an evocative childhood memoir, a personal story of war and the difficult job of trying to report it. Outstanding. Peter Godwin's When a Crocodile Eats the Sun is also highly recommended. Full review...

Heart of Darfur by Lisa French Blaker


A memoir chronicling a mission to Darfur for a Medecins Sans Frontieres nurse. Simply and honestly written, it tells a difficult and uncomfortable story that absolutely demands to be read. It is a Radio 4 book of the week. Full review...

Blood River by Tim Butcher


Recreating Stanley’s epic expedition through the Congo & along its eponymous river, Tim Butcher explores the modern country and its history. An enthralling rendition of what is effectively the rape of a nation. Buy it for everyone you know. Full review...

The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith


The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a sweet book with engaging characters. It is not a challenging read but it is an uplifting one. McCall Smith makes serious points with an admirable lightness of touch and without a hint of lecture. Reading it is a very pleasant way of spending an afternoon. Full review...

Disgrace by J M Coetzee


Professor David Lurie thought that his sexual needs were taken care of by a weekly visit to a prostitute, but when the arrangement came to an end he began an affair with one of his students. She wasn't exactly unwilling, but there was an air of coercion rather than romance about their encounters and it was almost inevitable that the university authorities would become involved. Lurie could have salvaged something of his career but he couldn't bend to the will of those judging him and his job was no more. At a loose end he went to stay with his daughter, Lucy, on her smallholding in the South African bush and for a while it looked as though life on the land might restore some balance to his life, but a savage attack brings all that to an end. Disgrace won the Booker Prize in 1999 and is probably the best book I have ever read. Highly recommended. Full review...

The Grand Slave Emporium: Cape Coast Castle and the British Slave Trade by William St Clair


An accessible account of life in and around Cape Coast Castle on the coast of Ghana, the main point of departure for the British Slave Trade ships with their human cargoes. Recommended for lovers of historical detail. Full review...

Forgive Me by Amanda Eyre Ward


A journalist with commitment phobia returns to South Africa for a Truth and Reconciliation Hearing. A superb, sparely written look at some big themes and a real pleasure to read. Highly recommended. Full review...

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Ambitious, evocative and heartbreaking, Half of a Yellow Sun is a courageous novel, full of integrity. More than a historical record, it also has resonance for current world issues. Full review...

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