3 must-read books from: Sub-Saharan Africa

This article is also available in: Italiano

Given the rapidly worsening health situation in the Bel Paese, every week we will offer you 3 “unmissable” books by area, in the first episode the Maghreb, today Sub-Saharan Africa

Small but necessary premise

This is not a ranking but a suggestion to those who should approach these countries and areas of the world for the first time and is also linked to the personal taste of the author. Putting only 3 works (thus risking to leave out entire countries) was a very specific choice due to something that is often forgotten: books are not free. Our intent is to provide beginners and experts with 3 truly “essential” titles, which can thus allow them to enjoy a good text and / or discover something new, allowing them to make only “good” shopping.

books Africa

Do you have any different “must-sees”? We are very curious to know them, soon we will start 30 minutes / 1 hour direct starting from these lists; stay connected to receive news. We leave you to the list, good reads.

“Season of Migration to the North” by Tayeb Salih (Sudan)

This book tells of the spiritual adventure of a diaspora and a return, and of a definitive disorientation. And the figure of an Arab intellectual who is carved into it – a child adopted in Cairo by an English family, studies at Oxford and a brilliant career in Great Britain, a libertine who avenges a sense of death on women, until the last encounter that forces him to choose between his being Western and his being Arab; the return to the village on the Nile, the effort to forget, and finally the catastrophe for him, and indirectly for his community.

books Africa

Impossible not to mention this novel, considered by many to be the best novel ever written in Arabic. The story of Tayeb Salih is a response to Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, this time putting the viewpoint from the point of view of the colonized and illustrating the mental processes that lead to this condition. It was an integral part of my high school thesis and still today quotes of rare affinity and insight come to mind; one of the pillars of the decolonization process.

“Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe (Nigeria)

Okonkwo is a warrior, a fighter, an ambitious and respected man who dreams of becoming the undisputed leader of his clan. From his Ibo village in Nigeria, Okonkwo’s fame has spread like wildfire across the continent. But Okonkwo also has a proud, obstinate character: he does not want to be like his father, soft and sentimental, he is determined never to show any weakness, any emotion, if not through the use of force. When his community is forced to face the invasion of Europeans, the order of things in which Okonkwo was born and raised begins to collapse, and his reaction will be only the beginning of a parable that will lead him to the dust: from a feared warrior and venerated, a defeated, outraged hero.

books Africa

If you want to see how the colonization took place from a locals’ point of view, you should definitely read this book. The text by Chinua Achebe, still one of the most studied in schools on the African continent, is a real pillar of African literature and, even just for the way it is written, will allow you to immerse yourself in that world at 360 °. For 3/4 of the text, in fact, we will be completely immersed in Okonkwo’s life, then going to suffer an even stronger blow when “things collapse”. Beautiful, if you liked it, know that it is the first part of a trilogy set in various periods of Nigeria.

“Cronache dalla polvere” by Zoya Barontini (Italy/Ethiopia)

In 1936 the Italian army conquered the capital of the Ethiopian empire, Addis Ababa. For those populations a new beginning: Roman peace, as Benito Mussolini defined it. Cronache dalla polvere tells this page in the history of Italy that has been forgotten and for too long unspoken: the occupation of the territories of Abyssinia by the fascist troops. The regime aimed to make it the flagship of the Italian Empire but found itself repressing the resistance of the proud Arbegnuoc guerrillas with atrocious violence. The Italian troops together with the black shirts became the protagonists of roundups, destruction and massacres of men, women and children, abandoning humanity and piety, lost forever in those lands far from Rome. Local populations have never forgotten that past of unprecedented violence.

Cronache dalla polvere

We talked about it just recently and therefore we do not dwell too much, suffice it to say that it is a book of exquisite workmanship, able to perfectly combine history and narration. The drawings inside are beautiful and it is a work suitable both for the youngest (the high school age is perfect) and for the more mature.

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