Very belatedly, I have found out about the Africa Reading Challenge 2014. It expires at the end of December. Fortunately, the challenge is quite modest. You only have to read 5 books, with a minimum of 3 by African authors, from at least 2 regions of Africa.
Kinna, who’s hosting the challenge, makes a number of suggestions for participating, which include reading in more than one language (it would have to be in translation, for me), both male and female authors, and mix of fiction and non-fiction. In a word: diversity. Or, alternatively, you can explore in depth a particular tradition, theme, or language group.
The biggest challenge for me will be finding the time to read 5 books between now and the end of the year. Reviewing them all is apparently not necessary (although ideally I would like to). The main point is making the commitment to read and expand your knowledge and understanding of both African literature, and the history, culture, politics, economics, etc. of the continent.
On my list for the challenge are Nnedi Okorafor’s fantasy ‘Who Fears Death’, and ‘Cola’s journey’ – Cola Bilkuei’s account of his experience as a child soldier and refugee, if I can find where I packed it when I moved house! I’m not promising I’ll make it to 5 books in not much more than 6 weeks, but I’ll see how I go. And I’ll start out by
cheating shamelesslymaking it a bit easier on myself by reblogging the review I wrote in 2012, of a novel by Malla Nunn.
Crime fiction is not my favourite genre. Just ask my friend Gas Wylde, whose novel based on the Wanda Beach murders I have been struggling to finish – just because I’m afraid it will get too grisly. I confess, I never really graduated from Agatha Christie.
I’m not averse to broadening my literary horizons though, which is why last year I joined a book club that some friends had started. I thought it was time I got out of my literary confort zone (fantasy & non-fiction, and yes, I know those words sound odd together). We have read & discussed some great books, and the latest was – wait for it – crime fiction: African-Aussie Malla Nunn’s A Beautiful Place to Die , set in South Africa in the fifties, not long after apartheid was made law.
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