100 books like The Shadow of the Sun

By Ryszard Kapuściński,

Here are 100 books that The Shadow of the Sun fans have personally recommended if you like The Shadow of the Sun. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of In an Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler's Tale

Mark Weston Author Of The Ringtone and the Drum: Travels in the World's Poorest Countries

From my list on travel in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I first visited Africa in 2004 I’ve found it difficult to tear myself away. I’ve lived in South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, and Sudan and travelled in all corners of the continent. I’ve participated in a revolution, hung out with the illegal fishermen of Lake Victoria, been cursed—and protectedby witch doctors, and learned Swahili. I’ve also read extensively about the place, written three books about it, and broadcast from it for the BBC World Service. In my other life I research and write about international development for universities and global organisations. This too has a focus on Africa.

Mark's book list on travel in Africa

Mark Weston Why did Mark love this book?

This is a beautifully written tale of the author’s time living in rural Egypt in the 1980s.

Ghosh’s accounts of his meetings and friendships with Egyptians unused to foreigners resonate with my own experiences in rural Africa, and the way he pieces together the long-forgotten history of an anonymous twelfth-century Indian slave and his Arab Jewish trader master and weaves it into the story is astonishingly deft.

I read it again recently and enjoyed it just as much as the first time.

By Amitav Ghosh,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked In an Antique Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Once upon a time an Indian writer named Amitav Ghosh set out an Indian slave, name unknown, who some seven hundred years before had traveled to the Middle East. The journey took him to a small village in Egypt, where medieval customs coexist with twentieth-century desires and discontents. But even as Ghosh sought to re-create the life of his Indian predecessor, he found himself immersed in those of his modern Egyptian neighbors.
   Combining shrewd observations with painstaking historical research, Ghosh serves up skeptics and holy men, merchants and sorcerers. Some of these figures are real, some only imagined, but all…


Book cover of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

Shugri Said Salh Author Of The Last Nomad: Coming of Age in the Somali Desert

From my list on bringing other cultures to life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am at heart a storyteller, with a special interest in archiving and weaving the tales of my people to give you insight into a culture that is quite different from yours. Like an archaeologist digging a forgotten world, I want to bring these stories to life in the form of words. After a long day of animal herding and chores, my family and I would sit by the fire in a vast, open desert covered in blackness, and share century-old stories. My big ears consumed these stories like a thirsty desert after a long drought, so I could one day share this library of wisdom with others.

Shugri's book list on bringing other cultures to life

Shugri Said Salh Why did Shugri love this book?

This memoir captures the journey of child soldiers during the civil war in Sierra Leone, and shows how once-innocent children with ordinary lives became killing machines in the hands of a ruthless rebel leader. Beah doesn't shy away from the gruesomeness of civil war, but there is beauty in how he weaves this memoir that reads like a novel. Though I am not usually a fan of books with a lot of violence, I was drawn to this one and could not put it down. I believe history is best learned from those who have first-hand experience. This is a one-of-a-kind book and to Beah’s credit, well-written as well. 

By Ishmael Beah,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Long Way Gone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this…


Book cover of Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan

Denis Dragovic Author Of No Dancing, No Dancing: Inside the Global Humanitarian Crisis

From my list on the tragedy of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived, breathed, and studied peace and conflict since 1998, but what I’m most passionate about is the plight of the people. I spent over a decade in countries such as Iraq, Sudan, and East Timor providing humanitarian assistance followed by another decade writing and working on the consequences of wars. The more we understand the impact of wars the better humanity will be placed to stop them. That is why I chose five beautifully written books that will be difficult to put down while offering an array of voices and perspectives that together provide insights into how we can better respond to outbreaks of war.

Denis' book list on the tragedy of war

Denis Dragovic Why did Denis love this book?

Ann Jones’ memoir Kabul in Winter takes the reader inside the lives of Afghan women following the overthrow of the Taliban in the early 2000s. The book includes the necessary tour of Afghanistan’s history taking the reader through major events alongside the more valuable contribution of her time in Kabul. The book’s beauty lies in Jones’ ability to explain the plight of Afghan women in the complex context of entrenched cultural norms and religious beliefs without relying on simplistic Western cliches. We get to understand that there is no easy solution, no quick fix, because the entire society is structured around an uber patriarchy. I loved how her writing didn’t hold back and how her passion shines through along with her anger and despair.

By Ann Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Soon after the bombs stopped falling on Kabul, award-winning journalist and women's rights activist Ann Jones set out for the shattered city. This is her trenchant report from the city where she spent the next four winters working in humanitarian aid. Investigating the city's prison for women, retraining Kabul's long - silenced English teachers, Jones enters the lives of everyday women and men and reveals through small events some big disjunctions: between the new Afghan "democracy" and the still-entrenched warlords, between American promises and performance, between what's boasted of and what is. At once angry, profound, and starkly beautiful, "Kabul…


Book cover of City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp

Denis Dragovic Author Of No Dancing, No Dancing: Inside the Global Humanitarian Crisis

From my list on the tragedy of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived, breathed, and studied peace and conflict since 1998, but what I’m most passionate about is the plight of the people. I spent over a decade in countries such as Iraq, Sudan, and East Timor providing humanitarian assistance followed by another decade writing and working on the consequences of wars. The more we understand the impact of wars the better humanity will be placed to stop them. That is why I chose five beautifully written books that will be difficult to put down while offering an array of voices and perspectives that together provide insights into how we can better respond to outbreaks of war.

Denis' book list on the tragedy of war

Denis Dragovic Why did Denis love this book?

Ben Rawlence’s City of Thorns makes the list because of his ability to weave a powerful narrative around the day-to-day lives of refugees living in camps. Far too often our knowledge of refugees is limited to numbers—the number of people who die crossing the Mediterranean, the number living in a camp, or the amount of dollars required to ease the suffering. This book is an antidote to the numbers. Rawlence introduces us to the hopes and challenges of nine residents of what was then the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab, Kenya. Unfortunately for the nine, Rawlence’s book covers a period when famine and terrorism hit the Horn of Africa adding another dimension to understanding the plight of the most vulnerable caught up in the vagaries of war.

By Ben Rawlence,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

To the charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it is a 'nursery for terrorists'; to the western media, it is a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort.

Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud, sticks or plastic, its entire economy is grey, and its citizens survive on rations and luck. Over the course of four years, Ben…


Book cover of Occupational Hazards: My Time Governing in Iraq

Denis Dragovic Author Of No Dancing, No Dancing: Inside the Global Humanitarian Crisis

From my list on the tragedy of war.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived, breathed, and studied peace and conflict since 1998, but what I’m most passionate about is the plight of the people. I spent over a decade in countries such as Iraq, Sudan, and East Timor providing humanitarian assistance followed by another decade writing and working on the consequences of wars. The more we understand the impact of wars the better humanity will be placed to stop them. That is why I chose five beautifully written books that will be difficult to put down while offering an array of voices and perspectives that together provide insights into how we can better respond to outbreaks of war.

Denis' book list on the tragedy of war

Denis Dragovic Why did Denis love this book?

Occupational Hazards provides a glimpse into the challenges of rebuilding countries after war. In mid-2003 Rory Stewart joined the British government effort to rebuild Iraq. His time overlapped with my early days but regrettably, operating in different areas, our paths never crossed. While I was focusing on humanitarian assistance and community development, Rory was navigating the politics of Maysan province. Rory is an accomplished writer who turns the prosaic work of governance, such as ensuring local salaries are paid, into an exciting and insightful narrative of the mechanics of running an occupation. Luckily for the reader, Rory isn’t the desk-bound type and as a result, we are taken to the streets of Amara, the reed houses of the Marsh Arabs, and the delicate negotiations between competing factions who are seemingly always only one step away from civil war.

By Rory Stewart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A fascinating insight into the complexity, history and unpredictability of Iraq.

By September 2003, six months after the US-led invasion of Iraq, the anarchy had begun. Rory Stewart, a young Biritish diplomat, was appointed as the Coalition Provisional Authority's deputy governor of a province of 850,000 people in the southern marshland region. There, he and his colleagues confronted gangsters, Iranian-linked politicians, tribal vendettas and a full Islamist insurgency.

Occupational Hazards is Rory Stewart's inside account of the attempt to rebuild a nation, the errors made, the misunderstandings and insurmountable difficulties encountered. It reveals an Iraq hidden from most foreign journalists…


Book cover of Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali

Susan Lewallen Author Of Distorted Vision

From my list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve lived and worked intensely in the medical field for over two decades in many countries in Africa. I’ve seen global health programs from the academic, research, developmental, and humanitarian viewpoints of both Africans and Europeans. It’s a complicated mix of politics, good intentions, and, sometimes, egos. There’s much to be learned from both fiction and nonfiction about the complexity of it all. 

Susan's book list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners

Susan Lewallen Why did Susan love this book?

This is the best Peace Corps Volunteer memoir I’ve read. It’s unusual in that it’s focused on the story of Monique Dembele, a traditional birth attendant in a small village in Mali, rather than on the PCV, Kris Holloway. We get to know Monique through Kris’s eyes—and Kris so obviously loves her friend and delights in the rural Malian community where she’s stationed. The cultural exchange and friendship that Kris experienced and describes are what Peace Corps is supposed to be about. This was a satisfying matchup of two young women from radically different worlds who saw beyond their differences into their common humanity. Holloway is a gifted writer, providing a chance to look into the world of rural West African women in the late 1980s. Mali slipped into ongoing civil unrest in the years after Kris left; it's heart wrenching to realize what that meant to the very communities…

By Kris Holloway,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Monique and the Mango Rains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Monique Dembele saves lives and dispenses hope in a place where childbirth is a life-and-death matter. Her unquenchable passion to improve the lot of the women and children in her West African village is matched by her buoyant humour in the face of unhappy marriage and backbreaking work. This is the deeply compelling story of the rare friendship between a young development volunteer and this midwife who defies tradition and becomes - too early in her own life - a legend.


Book cover of Whites

Susan Lewallen Author Of Distorted Vision

From my list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve lived and worked intensely in the medical field for over two decades in many countries in Africa. I’ve seen global health programs from the academic, research, developmental, and humanitarian viewpoints of both Africans and Europeans. It’s a complicated mix of politics, good intentions, and, sometimes, egos. There’s much to be learned from both fiction and nonfiction about the complexity of it all. 

Susan's book list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners

Susan Lewallen Why did Susan love this book?

This collection of six short stories, set in Botswana in the mid-1980s, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1987. It made my list because Rush puts a variety of privileged, well off and well-educated expats—Boers, Europeans, and Americans—under a microscope and provides a real and exquisitely detailed view of the expat life in Botswana in that era—it doesn’t always look good. Clearly, the expat lives are in stark contrast to those of the Batswana's, and Rush is generally careful to stick with what he knows; in only one story is the POV character Batswanan. It’s easy to see Rush’s experience as a poet in this literary fiction and the story lines are unique.

By Norman Rush,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Whether they are Americans, Brits, or a stubborn and suicidally moral Dutchman, Norman Rush's whites are not sure why they are in Botswana. Their uncertainty makes them do odd things. Driven half-mad by the barking of his neighbor's dogs, Carl dips timidly into native witchcraft—only to jump back out at the worst possible moment. Ione briskly pursues a career as a "seducer" ("A seductress was merely someone who was seductive and who might or might not be awarded a victory. But a seducer was a professional"), while her dentist husband fends off the generous advances of an African cook. Funny,…


Book cover of Aftershocks: A Memoir

Susan Lewallen Author Of Distorted Vision

From my list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve lived and worked intensely in the medical field for over two decades in many countries in Africa. I’ve seen global health programs from the academic, research, developmental, and humanitarian viewpoints of both Africans and Europeans. It’s a complicated mix of politics, good intentions, and, sometimes, egos. There’s much to be learned from both fiction and nonfiction about the complexity of it all. 

Susan's book list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners

Susan Lewallen Why did Susan love this book?

Nadia Owusu is the quintessential third culture kid, holder of a US passport, but born in Dar-es-Salaam to a Ghanaian father and an Armenian-American mother. Her UN-employed father moved his two daughters around through Kumasi (Ghana), Kampala (Uganda), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Rome (Italy), and the UK. Her mother left the family when Nadia was three years old and didn’t look back, save for a rare, short visit and some trinket gifts. Aftershocks is Ms. Owusu’s tribute to a loving father, but her upbringing was a shaky foundation that reverberated throughout her life, and provided the earthquake metaphor around which she structures her memoir. She weaves bits of political history and culture from the countries she lived in into her own story, comprised of the foreshocks, main shock, and aftershocks. It’s held together by beautiful prose descriptions, both of place and emotions.

By Nadia Owusu,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the tradition of The Glass Castle, this “gorgeous” (The New York Times, Editors’ Choice) and deeply felt memoir from Whiting Award winner Nadia Owusu tells the “incredible story” (Malala Yousafzai) about the push and pull of belonging, the seismic emotional toll of family secrets, and the heart it takes to pull through.

“In Aftershocks, Nadia Owusu tells the incredible story of her young life. How does a girl—abandoned by her mother at age two and orphaned at thirteen when her beloved father dies—find her place in the world? This memoir is the story of Nadia creating her own solid…


Book cover of White Dog Fell from the Sky

Susan Lewallen Author Of Distorted Vision

From my list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve lived and worked intensely in the medical field for over two decades in many countries in Africa. I’ve seen global health programs from the academic, research, developmental, and humanitarian viewpoints of both Africans and Europeans. It’s a complicated mix of politics, good intentions, and, sometimes, egos. There’s much to be learned from both fiction and nonfiction about the complexity of it all. 

Susan's book list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners

Susan Lewallen Why did Susan love this book?

This slow, haunting novel shows newly independent Botswana in the 1960s, when Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana’s first president, welcomed Europeans to help build the country. Alice is an American anthropologist working for the government; her marriage to another American, in the Ministry of Finance, dissolves, as he embraces the ex-pat lifestyle and she falls in love with the country. An equally important POV character is Isaac, a South African medical student who has to flee for safety to Botswana after witnessing a killing by the South African police. He finds work as Alice’s gardener and a relationship based on mutual respect ensues. When he falls afoul of the law, he disappears, his life once again in danger. Meanwhile, Alice suffers in a tragic love affair. Both he and Alice lose what they love most, but Alice has the grace to understand that his suffering is worse. Their stories play out…

By Eleanor Morse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked White Dog Fell from the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An extraordinary novel of love, friendship, and betrayal for admirers of Abraham Verghese and Edwidge Danticat

Eleanor Morse's rich and intimate portrait of Botswana, and of three people whose intertwined lives are at once tragic and remarkable, is an absorbing and deeply moving story.

In apartheid South Africa in 1977, medical student Isaac Muthethe is forced to flee his country after witnessing a friend murdered by white members of the South African Defense Force. He is smuggled into Botswana, where he is hired as a gardener by a young American woman, Alice Mendelssohn, who has abandoned her Ph.D. studies to…


Book cover of The Devil That Danced on the Water: A Daughter's Quest

Mark Weston Author Of The Ringtone and the Drum: Travels in the World's Poorest Countries

From my list on travel in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I first visited Africa in 2004 I’ve found it difficult to tear myself away. I’ve lived in South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, and Sudan and travelled in all corners of the continent. I’ve participated in a revolution, hung out with the illegal fishermen of Lake Victoria, been cursed—and protectedby witch doctors, and learned Swahili. I’ve also read extensively about the place, written three books about it, and broadcast from it for the BBC World Service. In my other life I research and write about international development for universities and global organisations. This too has a focus on Africa.

Mark's book list on travel in Africa

Mark Weston Why did Mark love this book?

This isn’t strictly a travel bookit’s about how the author’s father was brought to his knees and finally executed by the Sierra Leonean dictator Siaka Stevensbut it brilliantly conveys how life and politics work in West Africa and is therefore a must-read if you’re thinking about travelling to the region or want to know more about its post-colonial trajectory.

An extremely moving story, its portrayal of the horror of Stevens’ regime amid the beauty of Sierra Leone encapsulates the fascination of a part of Africa few tourists visit. Tragically, as I discuss in my book, the demise of Stevens’ regime wasn’t the end of Sierra Leone’s troubles.

By Aminatta Forna,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Devil That Danced on the Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Praised as “a shining example of what autobiography can be: harrowing, illuminating and thoughtful” (USA Today), Aminatta Forna’s intensely personal history is a passionate and vivid account of an idyllic childhood which became the stuff of nightmare. As a child she witnessed the upheavals of post-colonial Africa, danger, flight, the bitterness or exile in Britain and the terrible consequences of her dissident father’s stand against tyranny.

Mohamed Forna was a man of unimpeachable integrity and enchanting charisma. As Sierra Leone faced its future as a fledgling democracy, he was a new star in the political firmament, a man who had…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Africa, politics, and Ethiopia?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Africa, politics, and Ethiopia.

Africa Explore 247 books about Africa
Politics Explore 703 books about politics
Ethiopia Explore 44 books about Ethiopia