The best books about post colonial life in Africa

Riccardo Orizio Author Of Lost White Tribes, Journeys Among the Forgotten
By Riccardo Orizio

The Books I Picked & Why

A Bend in the River

By V.S. Naipaul

Book cover of A Bend in the River

Why this book?

Set in an unnamed and quintessential African country that after independence is descending into chaos, this is one of the most unforgettable books about Africa, but also often classified as one of the best novels of the English language of the last 40 years. A portrait that will never be dated, written in a Conrad type of dry yet very rich style, the Africa of Nobel laureate Naipaul is not for those who want to see things through rose-tinted lenses, but is a profoundly human portrait where the there is no space for clichés.  


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Rules of the Wild: A Novel of Africa

By Francesca Marciano

Book cover of Rules of the Wild: A Novel of Africa

Why this book?

A novel that reads like a reportage, almost a documentary, on contemporary (the Nineties) life in Kenya for the small and influential (but not rich) community of “white Kenyans”: some native of Kenya, some adoptive sons and daughters of the country that invented the safari a century ago and that is the main hub for all news organizations in the continent. So, reporters, conservationists, dreamers, adventures, misfits, eccentrics populate this hugely evocative and partially autobiographical book that has some of the best “sound bites” on the question we are often asked: Why You Love Africa?


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Another Day of Life

By Ryszard Kapuscinski, William R. Brand, Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand

Book cover of Another Day of Life

Why this book?

The end of colonialism seen from one, obscure corner of the continent: then-unknown Angola, left ”orphan” by the sudden exit of its Portuguese rulers and dropping into further pre-oil boom obscurity and tragedy. A small book in number of pages, but probably one of the most stunning reads by that genius of story-telling that was Kapuscinski, a reporter who was writing novels even when he pretended they were newspaper reportage. An unforgettable portrait of an Africa officially dated 1975, but eternal.


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The Zanzibar Chest: A Story of Life, Love, and Death in Foreign Lands

By Aidan Hartley

Book cover of The Zanzibar Chest: A Story of Life, Love, and Death in Foreign Lands

Why this book?

If you want a book that is amazingly written, informative, and full of all that makes Africa what it is – passion, tragedy, discovery – this is writing at its best. It’s one of those books that a writer can hardly duplicate or even imitate: a one-off miracle of a thousand different stories, characters, epochs, human trajectories, all ingredients of a complex dish that a normal chef would spoil but that Hartley pulls out of the oven still as a masterpiece. Interestingly, a book that has been praised and criticized with equally strong sentiments.


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North of South

By Shiva Naipaul

Book cover of North of South

Why this book?

The “other Naipaul”, the younger brother who died too young to compete with VS, managed to leave behind some extraordinary examples of his talent. North of South discovers what 'liberation', 'revolution,' and 'socialism' meant to the ordinary people of Africa and it is the book of a contrarian who, brutally honest to the point of being dismissive, travels across a continent on a brink of change, but instead of adopting the easy line of praising it explains why he is not impressed. If you like irony that verges into sarcasm, you can’t miss it.


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