Thursday, February 14, 2008

The African Reading Challenge

I read a blog by a Danish woman called Pernille who has recently drawn my attention to the African Reading Challenge.

The idea is you draw up a list of six books you plan to read / have read that are about Africa or set on the continent.

I have two lists. One of recommended titles from books I have read over the last few years; one of books I want to read in the next 11 months (to complete the ARC under their rules).

So, looking backwards, but in no particular order of priority, my list of recommendations would be:

1. The Zanzibar Chest - by Adrian Hartley

Tales of a British journalist covering some of the messier wars and events on the continent. Eye-opening.

2. We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families - by Philip Gourevitch

Tales of the Rwandan genocide. If you can read this without putting it down occasionally to take a break from the sheer horror, you are made of sterner stuff than I.

3. The Journey is the Destination - by Dan Eldon

A mixture of beauty and death, this collection of journal pages filled with photos, scrawl and scribble, momentos and notes from Dan Eldon, the young journalist that grew up in Kenya, was clearly in love with the continent, started a promising career in photojournalism and died in the Somalian conflict at twenty-one.

4. Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik - by Marie Javins

An antidote to all this death, Marie is a blogospheric friend of mine, who wrote a lovely book about her travels around the continent. It's light relief to counter the two above, but also a really good travelogue about the area.

5. Running with the moon - by Jonny Bealby

I stumbled across this because a friend recommended his Silk Road book and I thought I preferred the sound of this one. It's a travelogue based on his losing himself (and inevitably finding himself again) on a motorbike through Africa. Forget Ewan and Charley, this guy does it solo, with no support and even less money. It tapped into what I have enjoyed so much about the old banger rallies I've done, but at the same time sounded ten times more dangerous.

6. Half of a Yellow Sun - by Chimamanda Ngozi

I took this to India as a holiday read and it was a really beautifully written novel. Can't say any more about it as my computer is about to go to sleep and my power lead is elsewhere...

The list I want to read this year will have to wait until later this week as well.

Until then...


Miss Chris said...

Stumbled upon your blog via Jude...
I seem to have read a lot of Africa and conflict books but obviously I don't remember their titles and maybe it's not the best reading material anyway. Black Hawk Down comes to mind...yes, and "we wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families" is amazing and horrific.

Marie said...

Thank you for the mention! Did you ever get your copy back? Shall I ship you one out?

I seem to catch a fair amount of hell for not being the book some people planned/expected to read, so I'm pleased to see that you enjoyed Dik-Dik. Still struggling through the darker sequel.

Anne-Marie Weeden said...

I still can't find my copy. I leant it to R, and then my sister, who was staying at my parents at the time. She swears it went from the guest room one weekend when they were away, after she had finished it, and she had assumed I'd reclaimed it and said no more. Now of course, I can't find it and it's nowhere to be seen.

So if you have one lying around....

Marie said...

Send me your address!