10 books like Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth

By Wole Soyinka,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa

By Heinrich Barth, Henry Barth,

Book cover of Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa: Timbúktu, Sókoto, and the Basins of the Niger and Bénuwé

This is exploration literature at its very best. Heinrich Barth was inclined to pedantry, but he was thorough and meticulous (his maps were models of their kind); he was also a skilled linguist (fluent in Arabic, he later published vocabularies of eight African languages including Tamashek and Hausa, and learned enough Hausa on a single journey from Ghat to Agadez to be able to converse freely).

He stayed in the Sahara for six years in the 1840s, and returned with massive journals packed with priceless ethnographic and geographic information, only to find fame passing him by. His contemporary, David Livingstone, was much more suited than the stolid German to a life of the celebrity traveler, and spoke much more eloquently at revival meetings and at conventions of Geographical Societies. (Livingstone met Barth once, and gave him an inscribed copy of his Missionary Travels, which must have grated). Barth’s massive…

Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa

By Heinrich Barth, Henry Barth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and…


Nomad

By Mary Anne Fitzgerald,

Book cover of Nomad: One Woman's Journey Into the Heart of Africa

African exploration has a rich history of intrepid women travelers (I think particularly of Mary Kingsley, who had once ascended Mount Cameroon in a day, Victorian petticoats notwithstanding. Kingsley finally died of typhoid in South Africa while she was administering to Boer prisoners of war, but before that, she made many an expedition among the Fang of Gabon and, as she put it, “danced many a wild dance with the wild river.”) Mary Anne Fitzgerald is the best modern example. Jailed by the dictatorship of Kenya’s Daniel Arap Moi and subsequently expelled, she then reported from hotspots all over Africa, including Liberia, the Central African Republic, and Cote d'Ivoire, coming under fire and under threat more than once, facing down guerrillas and governments in turn. 

She also has an eye for the piquant detail. She was once an eyewitness to a mass circumcision of an age cohort of young Samburu…

Nomad

By Mary Anne Fitzgerald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nomad as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A South-African-born journalist who was exiled from her home in Kenya describes her return to the continent of Africa and her experiences dodging bullets in Ethiopia, dining with aristocracy in Nairobi, and seeing the victims of famine. 15,000 first printing.


Conversations with Ogotemmêli

By Marcel Griaule,

Book cover of Conversations with Ogotemmêli: An Introduction to Dogon Religious Ideas

At first glance, a difficult read. Griault shares many of the faults of French academic writing, opaque and ambiguous in turn. But it is worth the effort. The elderly sage, Ogotemmêli, is patient with outsider obtuseness, and the book is a fascinating look into the complicated and sophisticated cosmology of African spirituality, so different in tone and structure from those we are familiar with in the west. In the end, this book easily puts the lie to commonplace western notions of African religions, that they are mere animism, or obsessed with ancestors. As the Times Literary Supplement put it at the time, ‘… [this] will prove of interest and enlightenment to those still inclined to underestimate African subtlety and sophistication." Too true.

Conversations with Ogotemmêli

By Marcel Griaule,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Conversations with Ogotemmêli as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1948 as Dieu D'Eau, this near-classic offers a unique and first-hand account of the myth, religion, and philosophy of the Dogan, a Sudanese people.


Loot

By Barnaby Phillips,

Book cover of Loot: Britain and the Benin Bronzes

This is far more than a colonial era whodunit, a recounting of yet another colonial atrocity – though it is that in spades.  Yes, in 1897 the British occupation army reacted to the killing of a a few colonial officials by razing an empire to the ground, careless of its causes and its effects. So much, so commonplace. But what an empire! The Benin artworks the army looted, subsequently dispersed to museums around the globe, were and still are a revelation to those whose notions of African art were to that point limited to masks and fetishes. A mere catalogue of the pieces would be enough to explain why Picasso, among other artists, was captivated by the art of Africa, but Philips has done more than that – he puts the looted artifacts into their context and into their culture. There is nothing didactic or preachy about this book, but…

Loot

By Barnaby Phillips,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Loot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Prospect Best Book of 2021

'A fascinating and timely book.' William Boyd

'Gripping...a must read.' FT

'Compelling...humane, reasonable, and ultimately optimistic.' Evening Standard

'[A] valuable guide to a complex narrative.' The Times

In 1897, Britain sent a punitive expedition to the Kingdom of Benin, in what is today Nigeria, in retaliation for the killing of seven British officials and traders. British soldiers and sailors captured Benin, exiled its king and annexed the territory. They also made off with some of Africa's greatest works of art.

The 'Benin Bronzes' are now amongst the most admired and valuable artworks in the…


My Sister, the Serial Killer

By Oyinkan Braithwaite,

Book cover of My Sister, the Serial Killer

The title and all the glowing reviews made me pick this book up, but the sisters Korene and Ayoola kept me reading. This book actually made me wonder exactly how far I’d go for one of my sisters. It also made me think about how much many women give up to be the caretakers (as Korene the nurse is), especially of the men in our lives. Korene not only figuratively has to clean up after her little sister, she has to literally don plastic gloves and grab the bleach. Is it horrible to think a little Ayoola-style “self-defense” would make the world a better place? Yes. Yes, it is. But I’m so glad this book took me there, right to the darkest edge of that thought…fictionally.

My Sister, the Serial Killer

By Oyinkan Braithwaite,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked My Sister, the Serial Killer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sunday Times bestseller and The Times #1 bestseller

Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019
Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019
Winner of the 2019 LA Times Award for Best Crime Thriller
Capital Crime Debut Author of the Year 2019
__________

'A literary sensation'
Guardian

'A bombshell of a book... Sharp, explosive, hilarious'
New York Times

'Glittering and funny... A stiletto slipped between the ribs and through the left ventricle of the heart' Financial Times
__________

When Korede's dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what's expected of her: bleach, rubber…


Things Fall Apart

By Chinua Achebe,

Book cover of Things Fall Apart

I love reading and teaching this classic of postcolonial literature. Written in spare, accessible style on the eve of Nigerian independence from Britain, Achebe tells the story of British colonization of an Igbo clan in Southeast Nigeria near the end of the 19th century. Even as the novel portrays the appalling damages of European colonialism, it subtly critiques the traditional Igbo exclusion of disabled people. It demonstrates one of the paradoxes of human rights: victims of human rights abuses can also be perpetrators of them. The British missionaries first gain a foothold by welcoming those stigmatized people marginalized by the Umoufians, indicating how Achebe promotes compassion of all people.

Things Fall Apart

By Chinua Achebe,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Things Fall Apart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of International Man Booker Prize 2007.


Easy Motion Tourist

By Leye Adenle,

Book cover of Easy Motion Tourist

Visceral, immediate, and engrossing, Adenle’s debut novel features two main characters embroiled in a murder in Lagos. British journalist Guy Collins, an alien in a dangerous, fast-paced city is implicated in a gruesome crime. Amaka, a woman who has devoted herself to the protection of the city’s working girls, speaks for him, hoping that her intervention will be re-payed by Collins in the form of global publicity for her campaign against the people traffickers and body-parts smugglers. Both out of their depth, at great peril, and at the mercy of Nigeria’s mega-city and its huge cast of characters, they find themselves caught in a maze from which there appears no escape.

Easy Motion Tourist

By Leye Adenle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Easy Motion Tourist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Guy Collins, a British hack, is hunting for an election story in Lagos. A decision to check out a local bar in Victoria Island ends up badly - a mutilated female body is discarded close by and Collins is picked up as a suspect. In the murk of a hot, groaning and bloody police station cell, Collins fears the worst. But then Amaka, a sassy guardian angel of Lagos working girls, talks the police station chief around. She assumes Collins is a BBC journo who can broadcast the city's witchcraft and body parts trade that she's on a one-woman mission…


Postcolonial Modernism

By Chika Okeke-Agulu,

Book cover of Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria

This is the best account I know of the double bind that artists subjected to settler forms of colonialism have had to endure. Taking Nigerian modern art as his case study, this eminent Africanist art historian shows how, on the one hand, colonial officials attempted to abolish the indigenous artistic heritage as "savage," or "primitive," while simultaneously blocking African artists from a European art education. To become modern required a negotiation between these dual limitations and ended up producing something very different from Western modernism.

Postcolonial Modernism

By Chika Okeke-Agulu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Postcolonial Modernism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written by one of the foremost scholars of African art and featuring 129 color images, Postcolonial Modernism chronicles the emergence of artistic modernism in Nigeria in the heady years surrounding political independence in 1960, before the outbreak of civil war in 1967. Chika Okeke-Agulu traces the artistic, intellectual, and critical networks in several Nigerian cities. Zaria is particularly important, because it was there, at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, that a group of students formed the Art Society and inaugurated postcolonial modernism in Nigeria. As Okeke-Agulu explains, their works show both a deep connection with local artistic…


War Girls

By Tochi Onyebuchi,

Book cover of War Girls

War Girls is a sci-fi novel set almost 200 years in a futuristic Nigeria and is inspired by the Biafran War, a civil war that nearly tore apart the country in late 1960. The world around sisters Onyii and Ify has been ravaged by climate change and nuclear disaster forces the humanity that's left to fight over what is left. I hadn't read many science fiction or fantasy novels set in Africa, and War Girls drew me in with its found family premise as well as being a coming-of-age story filled with Wakanda-style tech. Despite the heavy subject manner Onyebuchi manages to showcase the sisters's hope and vulnerability despite how they were used as pawns by forces out of their control.

War Girls

By Tochi Onyebuchi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked War Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two sisters are torn apart by war and must fight their way back to each other in a futuristic, Black Panther-inspired Nigeria. The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.

In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.

Two sisters, Onyii and…


The Son of the House

By Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia,

Book cover of The Son of the House

The Son of the House is modern, original, page-turning, powerful, and beautifully written. I was curious about the seeming contradiction between Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s title, and the novel’s subject, two women who have been kidnapped in Enugu, Nigeria. Of course, I soon learn there is no contradiction. The lives of both Nwabulu and Julie are impacted by the value once placed upon the son of the house. The novel makes clear that these traditions are changing fast, even as the characters grapple with the reverberations. The novel introduces us to fascinating women who I have thought about long after I finished reading it. 

The Son of the House

By Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Son of the House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pulsing with vitality and intense human drama, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s debut is set against four decades of vibrant Nigeria and celebrates the resilience of women as they navigate and transform what remains a man’s world.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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