The Woyingi Blog

Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century

Taken from Columbia University’s African Studies page.

Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century

An initiative of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair

Over the last hundred years African writers have written of their lives, experiences, culture, history and myth; they have written in diverse forms, styles and in many languages. They have been published widely on the African continent, in Europe, the Americas and Asia. They have written in English, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Swahili, and in many other indigenous languages. And they have written with extraordinary originality, flair and great integrity. Nonetheless their work as a corpus deriving from the African continent remains largely unknown and uncelebrated.

To mark the beginning of the 21st century, and encouraged by Professor Ali Mazrui, the Zimbabwe International Book Fair has launched the international compilation of “Africa’s 100 Best Books.” This project is being organized in collaboration with the African Publishers Network (APNET), the Pan-African Booksellers Association (PABA), African writers’ associations, book development councils, and library associations.

Nominations were sought throughout the African continent and internationally.

Objectives
The aim of this endeavour is:- to celebrate the achievements of African writers over the last century- to stimulate debate, discussion, reading, criticism and analysis of African writing- to foster the publication and development of new titles and those that are currently out of print- to encourage translation of different texts- to promote the sale and exchange of books continent-wide and throughout the world- and above all to increase awareness and knowledge of books and writing by African authors.

Definition of an African
Only books written by Africans are eligible. After extensive discussion and debate the ZIBF has for the purpose of this project identified an African as: ‘someone either born in Africa or who became a citizen of an African country.’ This definition incorporates those African writers who have moved from their countries of birth to other continents. The issue of authors who are not by this definition deemed African but who consider themselves such or those who have made a notable contribution to African scholarship and literature will be addressed on their merit should their books be nominated.

The jury selected books in 3 main categories:
— Literature for Children– Creative Writing– Scholarship/non-fiction

Woyingi Blogger’s NoteI’ve bolded the novels I own.

Yes, I do have a fair amount of books (note my reference to a book-buying addiction in my profile). Now my readers can have an idea of how incredibly well read I am (aren’t I full of myself).

It is my intention to some day own all 100 of Africa’s best books of the 20th century. However, many of these books are out of print which is tragic really.

Please tell me if any of the links are unavailable.

Creative Writing

1. Abnudi, `Abd al-Rahman (Egypt) al-Mawt `ala al-asfalt (Death on the Asphalt)

2. Achebe, Chinua (Nigeria) Arrow of God

3. Achebe, Chinua (Nigeria) Things Fall Apart

4. Aidoo, Ama Ata (Ghana) Anowa

5. Almeida, Germano (Cape Verde) O testamento do Sr. Napumoceno da Silva Araújo

6. Armah, Ayi Kwei (Ghana) The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born

7. Bâ, Amadou Hampâté (Mali ) L’étrange destin de Wangrin

8. Bâ, Mariama (Senegal) Une si longue lettre

9. Ben Jelloun, Tahar (Morocco) La nuit sacrée

10. Beti, Mongo (Cameroon) Le pauvre Christ de Bomba

11. Brink, André (South Africa) A Dry White Season

12. Bugul, Ken (Senegal) Riwan, ou le chemin de sable

13. Cheney-Choker, Syl (Sierra Leone) The Last Harmattan of Alusine Dunbar

14. Chraibi, Driss (Morocco) Le passé simple

15. Coetzee, J.M. (South Africa) Life and Times of Michael K

16. Couto, Mia (Mozambique) Terra sonâmbula

17. Craveirinha, José (Mozambique) Karingana ua Karingana

18. Dadié, Bernard (Côte d’Ivoire) Climbié

19. Dangarembga, Tsitsi (Zimbabwe) Nervous Conditions

20. Dib, Mohammed (Algeria) La grande maison, L’incendie, Le métier à tisser

21. Diop, Birago (Senegal) Les contes d’Amadou Koumba

22. Diop, Boubacar Boris (Senegal) Murambi ou le livre des ossements

23. Djebar, Assia (Algeria) L’amour, la fantasia

24. Emecheta, Buchi (Nigeria) The Joys of Motherhood

25. Fagunwa, Daniel O. (Nigeria) Ogboju ode ninu igbo irunmale

26. Farah, Nuruddin (Somalia) Maps

27. Fugard, Athol (South Africa) The Blood Knot

28. Ghitani, Jamal al– (Egypt) Zayni Barakat

29. Gordimer, Nadine (South Africa) Burgher’s Daughter

30. Head, Bessie (South Africa) A Question of Power

31. Honwana, Bernardo (Mozambique) Nos matamos o cão tinhoso

32. Hove, Chenjerai (Zimbabwe) Bones

33. Isegawa, Moses (Uganda) Abessijnse Kronieken

34. Jordan, Archibald Campbell (South Africa) Ingqumbo yeminyanya

35. Joubert, Elsa (South Africa) Die Swerdjare van Poppie Nongena

36. Kane, Cheikh Hamidou (Senegal) L’aventure ambiguë

37. Khosa, Ungulani Ba Ka (Mozambique) Ualalapi

38. Kourouma, Ahmadou (Côte d’Ivoire) Les soleils des indépendances

39. Laye, Camara (Guinea) L’enfant noir

40. Magona, Sindiwe (South Africa) Living, Loving and Lying Awake at Night

41. Mahfouz, Naguib (Egypt) The Cairo Trilogy

42. Marechera, Dambudzo (Zimbabwe) House of Hunger

43. Mofolo, Thomas (Lesotho) Chaka

44. Monenembo, Tierno (Guinea) Un attieké pour Elgass

45. Mutwa, Vusamazulu Credo (South Africa) Indaba, My Children

46. Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya) Caitaani Mutharaba-ini (Devil on the Cross)

47. Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya) A Grain of Wheat

48. Niane, Djibril Tamsir (Senegal) Soundjata ou l’épopée mandingue

49. Nyembezi, Sibusiso (South Africa) Inkinnsela yaseMgungundlovu

50. Okigbo, Christopher (Nigeria) Labyrinths

51. Okri, Ben (Nigeria) The Famished Road

52. Oyono, Ferdinand (Cameroon) Le vieux nègre et la médaille

53. P’Bitek, Okot (Uganda) Song of Lawino

54. Pepetela (Angola) A geração da utopia

55. Saadawi, Nawal El (Egypt) Woman at Point Zero

56. Salih El, Tayyib (Sudan) Season of Migration to the North

57. Sassine, Williams (Guinea) Le jeune homme de sable

58. Sembene, Ousmane (Senegal) Les bouts de bois de Dieu

59. Senghor, Léopold Sédar (Senegal) Ouevre poétique

60. Serote, Mongane (South Africa) Third World Express

61. Shabaan, Robert Bin (Tanzania) Utenzi wa vita vya uhuru

62. Sony Labou Tansi (Congo) La vie et demie

63. Sow Fall, Aminata (Senegal) La grève des battus

64. Soyinka, Wole (Nigeria) Death and the King’s Horsemen

65. Tchicaya U Tam’si (Congo) Le mauvais sang – feu de brousse – à trisse-coeur

66. Tutuola, Amos (Nigeria) The Palm-wine Drinkard

67. Vera, Yvonne (Zimbabwe) Butterfly Burning

68. Vieira, José Luandino (Angola) Nós os do Makulusu (Excerpt available online)

69. Vilakazi, B.W. (South Africa) Amal’eZulu

70. Yacine, Kateb (Algeria) Nedjma

Scholarship/non-fiction

71. Amin, Samir (Egypt) Accumulation on a World Scale

72. Amadiume, Ifi (Nigeria) Male Daughters, Female Husbands

73. Andrade, Mario de (Angola) Os nacionalismos africanos

74. Appiah, Anthony (Ghana) In My Father’s House

75. Cabral, Amilcar (Guinea-Bissau) Unity and Struggle

76. Chimera, Rocha (Kenya) Kiswahili, past, present and future horizons

77. Diop, Cheikh Anta (Senegal) Antériorité des civilisations nègres

78. Doorkenoo, Efua (Ghana) Cutting the Rose

79. Hayford, J.E. Casely (Ghana) Ethiopia Unbound

80. Hountondji, Paulin (Benin) Sur la philosophie africaine

81. Johnson, Samuel (Nigeria) The History of the Yorubas

82. Kenyatta, Jomo (Kenya) Facing Mount Kenya

83. Ki-Zerbo, Joseph (Burkina Faso) Histoire de l’Afrique noire

84. Krog, Antjie (South Africa) Country of My Skull

85. Mama, Amina (Nigeria) Beyond the Mask, Race, Gender and Identity

86. Mamdani, Mahmood (Uganda) Citizen and Subject

87. Mandela, Nelson (South Africa) Long Walk to Freedom

88. Marais, Eugene (South Africa) Die Siel van die Mier

89. Memmi, Albert (Tunisia) Portrait du colonisé suivi de portrait du colonisateur

90. Mondlane, Eduardo (Mozambique) The Struggle for Mozambique

91. Mphahlele, Ezekiel (South Africa) Down Second Avenue

92. Mudimbe, V.Y. (Dem. Rep. of Congo) The Invention of Africa

93. Nkrumah, Kwame (Ghana) Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah

94. Plaatje, Sol (South Africa) Native Life in South Africa

95. Soyinka, Wole (Nigeria) Ake: The Years of Childhood

96. Van Onselen, Charles (South Africa) The Seed is Mine

Literature for Children

97. Asare, Meshack (Ghana) Sosu’s Call

98. Al-Homi, Hayam Abbas (Egypt) Adventures of a Breath

99. Mungoshi, Charles (Zimbabwe) Stories from a Shona Childhood

100. Tadjo, Veronique (Côte d’Ivoire) Mamy Wata et le monstre

5 Responses

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  1. DivaQ said, on May 14, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Im starting my library right away!

  2. Susan Malter said, on February 4, 2013 at 4:20 am

    I am starting with Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Thank you!

  3. Afeni Neville said, on December 1, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie
    ‘Aya de Yopougon’ albeit in comic format deserve a mention and a ranking!

  4. […] Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century. […]

  5. Williscop said, on January 9, 2014 at 3:48 am

    You have a interesting website here,I will start reading more.Please visit blog,I have a great article about the last king of Rwanda in Africa,I’m trying to raise awareness because his presence in the region would bring peace to the great lake region in central Africa.Thanks


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