100 books like White Dog Fell from the Sky

By Eleanor Morse,

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

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Book cover of The Shadow of the Sun

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 short book is without doubt the best introduction to African travel (and in my opinion one of the greatest travel books ever written).

Ranging across the whole continent, Kapuscinski’s evocative writing, although not always sticking religiously to factual details, captures the essence—and the magic—of the place like nobody else can. The book, along with his other great works on Africa Another Day of Life and The Emperor, was a major influence on both why I wanted to get to know Africa and how I write about it. 

By Ryszard Kapuściński,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Shadow of the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Only with the greatest of simplifications, for the sake of convenience, can we say Africa. In reality, except as a geographical term, Africa doesn't exist'. Ryszard Kapuscinski has been writing about the people of Africa throughout his career. In astudy that avoids the official routes, palaces and big politics, he sets out to create an account of post-colonial Africa seen at once as a whole and as a location that wholly defies generalised explanations. It is both a sustained meditation on themosaic of peoples and practises we call 'Africa', and an impassioned attempt to come to terms with humanity itself…


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 A Question of Power

Robert V.S. Redick Author Of Master Assassins

From my list on fantasy novels no one ever calls fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love the fantastic—madly, insatiably. Far too much, indeed, to limit myself to what the publishers label “fantasy”. Such labels don’t enlighten us, however much they condition us to predictable purchasing behavior. We’re better off ignoring them. We’re better off defining fantasy for ourselves. These five knockout novels are saturated with fantasy. It’s high time we fantasy lovers recognized our kin.

Robert's book list on fantasy novels no one ever calls fantasy

Robert V.S. Redick Why did Robert love this book?

Do you like a good scare? Well, Stephen King is one kind of scary, but A Question of Power is something else altogether: a descent into a sunless valley writhing with monsters. We know that these monsters dwell in the mind of the main character, Elizabeth. But there’s no safety in knowing that, for we’re locked in with them. If we sometimes climb a tree and feel a fresh breeze on our faces, it’s with the knowledge that those tentacles can slither up and snatch us back into hell at a moment’s notice. And they do. 

I didn’t start with what many consider the most important facts of this novel: that Elizabeth is a mixed-race woman born in South Africa and exiled to Botswana. And those are vital facts. But Elizabeth is also one luminous, suffering soul. Watching her fight her way out of that dark valley is a terrifying…

By Bessie Head,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"It wasn't any kind of physical stamina that kept her going, but a vague, instinctive pattern of normal human decencies combined with the work she did, the people she met each day and the unfolding of a project with exciting inventive possibilities. But a person eventually becomes a replica of the inner demons he battles with. Any kind of demon is more powerful than normal human decencies, because such things do not exist for him." Bessie Head

In this fast-paced, semi-autobiographical novel, Head exposes the complicated life of Elizabeth, whose reality is intermingled with nightmarish dreams and hallucinations. Like the…


Book cover of Move Your Shadow: South Africa, Black and White

Kenneth P. Vickery Author Of The African Experience: From "Lucy" to Mandela

From my list on Southern Africa as picked by a historian.

Why am I passionate about this?

For fifty years I have studied and taught the history of Africa, which  makes me about the luckiest guy around.  My focus has been on Southern Africa, and especially Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.  Aside from the fantastic physical beauty, the region attracts because of the comparability of its history and experience with that of the United States at many points:  for instance, a colonial past, systems of slavery, and fraught [to say the least] racial dynamics.  I have enjoyed 23 journeys or lengthier sojourns in Southern Africa, and have taught at five universities, including North Carolina State, Duke, and the University of Zimbabwe as a Fulbright Lecturer.

Kenneth's book list on Southern Africa as picked by a historian

Kenneth P. Vickery Why did Kenneth love this book?

Move Your Shadow is a masterpiece of reportage. Lelyveld, a former executive editor of the New York Times, spent considerable periods in apartheid South Africa in both the 1960s and the 1980s. The sixties was the period of “baaskap”—“bosshood” apartheid, when the perverse racist cruelties of the system were imposed with a sledgehammer. I would call the eighties the era of “facelift” apartheid—why, the word was hardly used by the regime anymore. 

To paraphrase Gramsci, the old world was dying, a new one struggled to be born. Monsters abounded. Nobody captured the period better than Lelyveld. The chapter on Philip Kgosana, the idealist who led Cape Town demonstrations in 1960—at age 19—was betrayed by the state, and wound up in exile in Sri Lanka—is worth the price of the book.

By Joseph Lelyveld,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Drawing on his tours in South Africa as a correspondent for the "New York Times," the author details the absurdities, rationalizations, inequities, and cruelties of apartheid, showing what it means to suffer and survive under the restrictions of racial separation


Book cover of The Spiral House

Helen Moffett Author Of Charlotte

From my list on Historical novels by Southern African women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a closet historian who’s always been fascinated by the power of novels to enable readers to travel in time and space and stand in the shoes of historical characters–blending imagination and enlightenment. As a scholar, I’ve worked to uncover women’s unknown and secret historieshistories of subversion, disruption, and humor. As a South African who grew up under apartheid, I passionately believe that if we don’t confront history, we’re doomed to repeat its nastier passages. As a writer, I’ve published a sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice that showed me how immersion in another historical era can enable us to grapple with truths about our current societies.

Helen's book list on Historical novels by Southern African women

Helen Moffett Why did Helen love this book?

For every dreaming rebel. This novel weaves together two tumultuous periods in history–the last decades of slavery and the start of grand apartheid–and the stories of two women bursting the seams of their existence.

In 1794, Katrijn van der Caab, a freed slave, finds herself on a farm where the master’s obsession with experimentation reflects a growing fixation with racial classification. In 1961, Sister Vergilius, a nun in rural South Africa, wants to escape the confines of her order even as the political and social strictures of the time hem her in still further.

This complex book demands commitment from the reader, but it is so beautifully written that phrases still linger in my mind. And the main characters were so compelling that I tracked down the author to ask her their fates!

By Claire Robertson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Katrijn van der Caab, freed slave and wigmaker's apprentice, travels with her eccentric employer from Cape Town to Vogelzang, a remote farm where a hairless girl needs their services. The year is 1794, it is the age of enlightenment, and on Vogelzang the master is conducting strange experiments in human breeding and classification. It is also here that Trijn falls in love. Two hundred years later and a thousand miles away, Sister Vergilius, a nun at a mission hospital, wants to free herself from an austere order. It is 1961 and her life intertwines with that of a gentleman farmer…


Book cover of Boyhood

Tim Bascom Author Of Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia

From my list on memoirs of American and European expats in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since spending seven years of my youth in East Africa, I have read the literature of that continent. I have relished the incredible novels of authors like Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Maaza Mengiste, but I have also sought out stories of those who entered Africa from outside, wanting to confirm my experience and to make sense of it. My reading has included masterpieces like Abraham Verghese’s novel Cutting for Stone or Ryszard Kapuscinski’s journalistic expose The Emperor. But here are a few personal memoirs that have given me a basis for my own understanding of being an expatriate shaped profoundly by life in Africa.  

Tim's book list on memoirs of American and European expats in Africa

Tim Bascom Why did Tim love this book?

Some would claim Coetzee’s Boyhood is an autobiographical novel, and others would insist it is a fictionalized memoir. In any case, it is a powerful depiction of a child’s experience of being raised in the harsh, racist culture of Afrikaners in apartheid South Africa. Maybe because the author decided to tell the story from the 3rd person perspective—as if standing outside of himself—the bleakness of his home and community presses home twice as hard. One senses, behind the cruelty and callousness, the buried ugliness of entrenched bigotry. I lived in a kinder missionary community, learning to admire the people I encountered in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan, but over time I had to recognize subtler prejudices that went with that evangelistic expatriate culture. Boyhood spoke to me in a necessary, truth-telling way that was not comfortable but very important.

By J. M. Coetzee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The critically acclaimed author of In the Heart of the Country tells his personal story of growing up under apartheid in South Africa with a father he cannot respect and a mother he both adores and despises. 12,500 first printing.


Book cover of Rumours of Rain

Iain Parke Author Of The Liquidator

From my list on African set political thrillers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Looking for an adventure in the mid-90s I found myself in East Africa helping wind up a failed African bank, locked out of a t-shirt manufacturing plant, chasing down missing bulldozers (which turned up creating Rwandan refugee camps), taking over a toilet paper manufacturer which couldn’t manage to perforate the paper, and running a match factory on the slopes of Kilimanjaro before selling it to a Nigerian chief who turned up in his private jet. Meanwhile feeling like an alien who really didn’t understand what was really going on around me, and uncomfortable with much of the hard-drinking and arrogant expat culture, drove me to start to write as a way of making sense of what I was seeing and feeling.    

Iain's book list on African set political thrillers

Iain Parke Why did Iain love this book?

A true South African classic. Told from an Afrikaner point of view which is an unusual experience for me as someone with modern liberal sensibilities, this is a grown-up psychological and political thriller about loyalties, conflict, and betrayals set against the shadow of the Angola conflict and the beginning of the end of apartheid.

By Andre Brink,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winter in South Africa - a time of searing drought, angry stirrings in Soweto, and the shadow of the Angolan conflict cast across the scorched bush.

Martin Mynhardt, a wealthy Afrikaner, plans a weekend at his old family farm. But his visit coincides with a time of crisis in his personal life. In a few days, the security of a lifetime is destroyed and, with only the uncertain values of his past to guide him, Mynhardt is left to face the wreckage of his future.


Book cover of Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa

Tim Crothers Author Of The Queen of Katwe: One Girl's Triumphant Path to Becoming a Chess Champion

From my list on young African heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

For most of my life I have been fascinated by Africa, but I could never figure out a good reason to go there. Then one day in 2010 while delivering a book talk in North Carolina, a gentleman approached me afterward saying that he’d read a brief item in a missionary newsletter that morning and he thought it might make “a good story” for me. Six months later, I was on a flight to Uganda and that “good story” was born as a magazine piece before evolving into a book and finally in 2016 into a Disney movie. I have since traveled to Africa many times and it is a magical place, my home away from home.  

Tim's book list on young African heroes

Tim Crothers Why did Tim love this book?

Phiona once told me that she grew up in Katwe believing that everyone in the world lived in the same desperate circumstances that she did and that if you’re born in Katwe, you are expected to die there. Mathabane was similarly anchored to his poverty-ravaged township of Alexandra outside of Johannesburg. “Kaffir” is an ugly ethnic slur common during Apartheid-era South Africa, a term that the author battled to overcome every day while surviving an environment plagued by gang violence. Mathabane’s salvation was his education (and, similar to Phiona, success in an unlikely sport), which eventually led him to attend college in the U.S., just like Beah, Kamkwamba, and Mutesi.

By Mark Mathabane,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Kaffir Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The classic story of life in Apartheid South Africa.

Mark Mathabane was weaned on devastating poverty and schooled in the cruel streets of South Africa's most desperate ghetto, where bloody gang wars and midnight police raids were his rites of passage. Like every other child born in the hopelessness of apartheid, he learned to measure his life in days, not years. Yet Mark Mathabane, armed only with the courage of his family and a hard-won education, raised himself up from the squalor and humiliation to win a scholarship to an American university.

This extraordinary memoir of life under apartheid is…


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