A contribution from our #100DaysofAfricanReads collaboration
What are your ‘African Books to Inspire’?
- Learning to Pray in the Age of Technique by Goncalo Tavares. I exploit a technicality in choosing Goncalo Tavares’ novel: he’s Angolan-born. Learning to Pray possesses in spades an alienative quality that removes it entirely from the contemporary fiction in which tidy and redemptive resolutions are worked out. During the recent Ebola outbreak, my thoughts returned again and again to a penetrative passage of text: “Man tries to resist [disease], finding allies in…centuries of medical and technical development, while on the other hand… illness [is] likewise strengthened by centuries of its own particular history, to which men have no access.”
- J.P Clark’s America, Their America for the sheer gall (“You sure have a big chip on your shoulder.”) and unwillingness to be overawed with which the Nigerian playwright toured the U.S. Clark’s stint in the country, in duration about a year, came to an abrupt end when his Ivy League Fellowship was cut short. Times have changed but the intuitions about America’s complacency may be truer today than on publication of the book in 1964.
- Disgrace, a prose bomb, is J.M Coetzee’s parting missive to South Africa before he went off to become an Australian. The novel interrogates free will, muses on the follies of middle aged male lust and conveys a prescient disgust at post-Apartheid South Africa.
Olufemi Terry is Sierra Leone born writer and won the 2010 Caine Prize for African Writing for his story “Stickfighting Days” from Chimurenga vol 12/13. His fiction and poetry has appeared in Guernica, Blipmagazine and New Contrast.
Today (Friday 3rd July) 6.30pm at the British Library, journalist Hannah Pool will be talking to Africa39 writers Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Ndinda Kioko, Nadifa Mohamed, Chibundu Onuzo and Nii Ayikwei Parkes about their favourite African literature titles. Join us at Africa Writes for ‘African Books to Inspire’ to continue this conversation and for an evening of books and inspiration.