The best Zimbabwe books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about Zimbabwe and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

An Elegy for Easterly

By Petina Gappah,

Book cover of An Elegy for Easterly

I loved this masterfully written short story anthology. This book was published in 2009 and I read it soon after but I still remember the stories – they are haunting and thought-provoking. I think this was the first book I read which really brought home to me the challenges faced by the people of Zimbabwe in a changing and uncertain political climate, living their day-to-day lives in a country on the verge of collapse. 


Who am I?

I grew up in a small village in India. The nearest library was in the next town, two bus rides and a long walk away and comprised of one bookshelf, half full, the books with several pages missing. I read and reread those books, making up my own narratives for the missing pages. I suppose this was the crucial first step in my journey to author. I write stories featuring diverse protagonists. In my books, I explore themes of displacement and belonging, how people brought up in different cultures and during different times respond to challenges, how their interactions and reactions are informed by their different upbringings and values.


I wrote...

The Girl in the Painting: A heartbreaking historical novel of family secrets, betrayal and love

By Renita D'Silva,

Book cover of The Girl in the Painting: A heartbreaking historical novel of family secrets, betrayal and love

What is my book about?

In colonial India a young woman finds herself faced with an impossible choice, the consequences of which will echo through the generations…

1928. In British-ruled India, headstrong Sita longs to choose her own path, but her only destiny is a good marriage. After a chance meeting with a Crown Prince leads to a match, her family’s status seems secured and she moves into the palace, where peacocks fill the gardens and tapestries adorn the walls. But royal life is far from simple, and her failure to provide an heir makes her position fragile. Soon Sita is on the brink of losing everything, and the only way to save herself could mean betraying her oldest friend…

Hold My Hand I'm Dying

By John Gordon Davis,

Book cover of Hold My Hand I'm Dying

This was the first novel I read about Africa and one of the first 'grown-up' books I was allowed to read as a young teen. It had a huge impact on me. At the time, growing up in Australia, I didn't know I'd end up living in Africa and writing about the continent, but this book moved me. Set in the former Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), it's a thriller and love story told against the background of a tumultuous struggle for a country. When I first visited Zimbabwe for real it was like I'd been there already – I had, through the pages of this moving story.


Who am I?

I'm an Australian who fell in love with Africa in my 30s. I've now written 20 thrillers set in Africa and several non-fiction biographies. My wife and I have travelled extensively on the continent and now spend at least half our lives in Africa, and the remainder in Australia. I'm passionate about Africa's people, wildlife, and fragile natural environment. While my books focus on some of the continent's problems – especially the illegal trade in wildlife – I'm a sucker for a happy ending and find no shortage of positive, inspirational people on my travels who serve as the inspiration for the good guys and girls in my stories. 


I wrote...

Blood Trail

By Tony Park,

Book cover of Blood Trail

What is my book about?

Evil is at play in a South African game reserve. A rhino poacher vanishes into thin air, defying logic, and baffling ace tracker Mia Greenaway. Meanwhile, Captain Sannie van Rensburg is investigating the disappearance of two young girls who locals fear have been abducted for use in sinister traditional medicine practices.

But poachers are also employing witchcraft, paying healers for potions they believe will make them invisible. When a tourist goes missing, Mia and Sannie must work together to confront their own demons - which challenges everything they believe in - while following a bloody trail that seems to vanish at every turn.

The Last Resort

By Douglas Rogers,

Book cover of The Last Resort: A Memoir of Mischief and Mayhem on a Family Farm in Africa

Douglas Rogers, a Zimbabwean journalist living in the US, tells the true story of how his elderly parents survived a harrowing period in the African country's history when former President Robert Mugabe's supporters were invading and claiming white-owned farms. Rather than fleeing, Rogers' parents transformed their backpackers' lodge into a have for a wildlife disparate group of hookers, spies, soldiers, and refugees. It's hilarious and harrowing and proof that in Africa, truth is stranger than fiction! By the way, Zimbabwe is now a beautiful, peaceful country to visit and an excellent safari destination.


Who am I?

I'm an Australian who fell in love with Africa in my 30s. I've now written 20 thrillers set in Africa and several non-fiction biographies. My wife and I have travelled extensively on the continent and now spend at least half our lives in Africa, and the remainder in Australia. I'm passionate about Africa's people, wildlife, and fragile natural environment. While my books focus on some of the continent's problems – especially the illegal trade in wildlife – I'm a sucker for a happy ending and find no shortage of positive, inspirational people on my travels who serve as the inspiration for the good guys and girls in my stories. 


I wrote...

Blood Trail

By Tony Park,

Book cover of Blood Trail

What is my book about?

Evil is at play in a South African game reserve. A rhino poacher vanishes into thin air, defying logic, and baffling ace tracker Mia Greenaway. Meanwhile, Captain Sannie van Rensburg is investigating the disappearance of two young girls who locals fear have been abducted for use in sinister traditional medicine practices.

But poachers are also employing witchcraft, paying healers for potions they believe will make them invisible. When a tourist goes missing, Mia and Sannie must work together to confront their own demons - which challenges everything they believe in - while following a bloody trail that seems to vanish at every turn.

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

By Alexandra Fuller,

Book cover of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood

When I first read Alexandra Fuller’s memoir twenty years ago, I felt so glad that someone had finally put words to what I experienced as an expatriate youth in Africa. The book inspired me to speak my own story, which had been hiding inside me for 40 years, suppressed every time I sidestepped the question, “Where are you from?” My family was quite different than Fuller’s. We came to Ethiopia from midwestern America, not England. My father was a doctor, not a farmer.  And there was no alcohol in our teetotalling missionary bungalow. But Fuller, with her story of Rhodesia’s turbulent movement toward independence, spoke to my own complicated relationship to a people and land that I loved but could never fully claim. 


Who am I?

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.  


I wrote...

Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia

By Tim Bascom,

Book cover of Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia

What is my book about?

In 1964, at the age of three, I was thrust into a radically different world when my family moved from midwestern America to the highlands of Ethiopia. Like the herky-jerky chameleon that I found outside a classroom where my missionary parents were learning to speak Amharic, I saw two directions at once, struggling to integrate two hemispheres of experience. Sent reluctantly to boarding school in the capital, I found that beyond the gates enclosing our peculiar, western enclave, conflict roiled Ethiopian society. When secret riot drills at school were followed by an attack by rampaging students near my parents' mission station, I witnessed Haile Selassie’s empire crumbling, and I felt parallel tremors in my family, which had been strained to breaking point by American, evangelical idealism.

The Grass Is Singing

By Doris Lessing,

Book cover of The Grass Is Singing

I don’t remember if there is actual wildlife in this book (apart from a dog), but nature plays a big part in the story. It was one of the first novels about Africa I read and it moved me deeply. Doris Lessing has written quite a few books about Africa, some political, others with a focus on the land, its people, and nature. She grew up in Zimbabwe (which was called Rhodesia back then) and is an award-winning author. I had to include at least one of her books in my list, so there.


Who am I?

I moved from Germany to Botswana when I was a fledgling translator, and then on to South Africa 2 years later. I fell in love with this part of Africa that had a hand in making me the person I am today. Since I used to travel a lot, not all of my books are set in Southern Africa, but I have a passion for sharing my African stories with the world, and in a few of my novels, I include African wildlife in the storyline. Being a translator, I also translate books into German/English, and four of my own books - so far - are also available in German.


I wrote...

The Rhino Whisperer

By Evadeen Brickwood,

Book cover of The Rhino Whisperer

What is my book about?

Rhino poaching and the murder of a ranger create havoc in the peaceful Shangari Safari Park in South Africa. When another murder takes place in Johannesburg, it becomes clear that there is a lot more to this case than meets the eye. A criminal network is not just dealing in the illegal rhino horn trade with impunity. The San-people, who live in Shangari can communicate with the animals in the park and try to keep this a secret hidden to protect their way of life. 

Blind Eye

By James B. Stewart,

Book cover of Blind Eye: The Terrifying Story Of A Doctor Who Got Away With Murder

I read this book for background for my first novel, in an effort to understand why some physicians (very few, thank goodness) kill. What I discovered in this book is what I experienced in real life working for eleven years in healthcare: hospitals are breeding grounds for medical error and cover-ups. Physician, protect thyself, so to speak. The number of times this insane MD (Michael Swango) was allowed to continue practicing when he could have been stopped is appalling, but not surprising to those inside healthcare.


Who am I?

Before becoming an opera singer, I received my Masters in Healthcare Administration and worked in various healthcare settings, from a community health center to a large teaching hospital. I learned first-hand how the best-intentioned clinicians can make mistakes, and how those mistakes can lead to unintended consequences that can harm patients. Although it’s terrifying to think about, the best defense is to self-advocate as much as possible. It’s your body and your decision. Don’t give away your power.


I wrote...

Devil's Grace

By Elizabeth B. Splaine,

Book cover of Devil's Grace

What is my book about?

0.63 seconds.That's the amount of time cardiac surgeon Dr. Angela Brennan has to process the oncoming truck that destroys half of her family and irrevocably alters her life. Not long after the accident, death intervenes once more and snatches her remaining family member.

Angela confronts the healthcare power brokers at the hospital where she works and discovers lies, complicity, and corruption at the highest levels. As she uncovers the truth about her daughter's death, barriers are thrown in her way that threaten to destroy her career and reputation. Spirits start communicating with Angela, causing her to question her sanity. But as her science-based world continues to disintegrate, she accepts her new reality, and her mission to transform her pain into purpose becomes clear.

Mukiwa

By Peter Godwin,

Book cover of Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa

Godwin’s brilliant memoir of growing up in what was then Southern Rhodesia, fighting in a war, then defending as a lawyer some of those who he’d fought against is told with enormous wit and great literary flair. It’s a travesty that no film has ever been made of this book, but perhaps no one would believe the stories.


Who am I?

Peter Allison became a safari guide by accident. Healthy fear is outweighed by overwhelming curiosity, which has led to misadventures on all continents, detailed in the books Whatever You Do, Don’t Run (A New York Times Notable Book of the Year); Don’t Look Behind You; and How To Walk A Puma.


I wrote...

Whatever You Do, Don't Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide

By Peter Allison,

Book cover of Whatever You Do, Don't Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide

What is my book about?

In the tradition of Bill Bryson, a new writer brings us the lively adventures and biting wit of an African safari guide. Peter Allison gives us the guide’s-eye view of living in the bush, confronting the world’s fiercest terrain of wild animals and, most challenging of all, managing herds of gaping tourists. Passionate for the animals of the Kalahari, Allison works as a top safari guide in the wildlife-rich Okavango Delta. As he serves the whims of his wealthy clients, he often has to stop the impulse to run as far away from them as he can, as these tourists are sometimes more dangerous than a pride of lions.

We Need New Names

By NoViolet Bulawayo,

Book cover of We Need New Names

Having lived in poverty and forced to grow up fast due to the hardship of life, what makes this book tragic is that when Darling the child protagonist arrives in the US, the land she dreamed of, she misses ‘home’ and her dreams don’t come true. Recommended for the author's narrative verve and its general overview of Zimbabwe through the lens of the less privileged. The lesson for me was that material comfort does not guarantee happiness. 


Who am I?

My name is Ellen Banda-Aaku a writer from Zambia and the UK. I have been writing – mainly for young adults - for many years. My latest YA book The Elephant Girl which I have co-authored with James Patterson is due in July 2022. A memorable book for me is one that haunts me long after I turn the last page even though it’s fiction. Whilst the books mentioned here are very different, I have linked them in that they have child protagonists who go through a lot of suffering through no fault of their own. That is what makes them tearjerkers.


I wrote...

Patchwork

By Ellen Banda-Aaku,

Book cover of Patchwork

What is my book about?

Lusaka 1978. Pumpkin is 9 years old. Her fashionable mother is the queen of Tudu court, but beneath the veneer of respectability that her father's money provides lies a secret that threatens their whole world – the tall, elegant Totela Ponga is a drunk. And when pumpkin’s father – the wealthy businessman JS – discovers her mother’s alcoholism it sets in motion a chain of events that come to define the rest of her life. 

Weaving together the stories of three generations of women, this novel is a patchwork of love jealousy and human frailty set against a backdrop of war and political ambition. This book is about how childhood experiences influence who an adult becomes. Patchwork was shortlisted for the Commonwealth book prize in 2012. 

Papa Brings Me the World

By Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw,

Book cover of Papa Brings Me the World

Lulu’s dad is a photojournalist who travels the world and brings her back treasures. Anyone who has a traveling parent will connect with this story. It’s a beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated book about a multi-racial family. It’s filled with heart and the love between a dad and daughter with the opportunity to learn some cool facts from the global cultures he brings back to her with his stories and trinkets. So lovely!

Who am I?

I was a passionate elementary school teacher for thirty-five years. Now retired, I am grateful that my writing allows me to continue communicating with children. I am always working to improve my craft, help other writers, and embrace my author life. When I am not in a critique group or at my computer I might be doing yoga or biking. 


I wrote...

Some Daddies

By Carol Gordon Ekster, Javiera Mac-Lean Álvarez (illustrator),

Book cover of Some Daddies

What is my book about?

With a "windows-to-the-world" cover, Some Daddies is a marvelous celebration of family love and a fun-filled exploration of what daddies do and are. Every daddy is different—and that makes them even more special! Readers will get a glimpse of the endless possibilities masculine love offers. With energetic and captivating art, it's the perfect gift for a new dad, Father's Day, or any occasion for parents and educators to read with their kids.

A Girl Named Disaster

By Nancy Farmer,

Book cover of A Girl Named Disaster

Nhamo is the remarkable twelve-year-old heroine in this engrossing book who bravely sets out to escape an arranged marriage to a cruel man. Summoning uncommon courage, she builds a raft and launches it upon an enormous lake where she must war against enemies both seen and unseen as well as the threat of drowning and starvation. Mystical African beliefs come alive in this book written by a white woman who is deeply versed in the culture and customs of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Skillfully rendered, it is often cited as a classic adventure story for young people and was one of the catalysts that convinced me to write my adventure stories.


Who am I?

The books I've recommended are all skillfully told by someone who is not of the race or sexual orientation of the protagonist. Though I believe in the importance of people telling their own stories, I also think there should be room for writers to write from viewpoints other than their own. The past is where many of my characters live, but I still have to deal with the quandry of authenticity. Daughter of Winter is placed in Essex, MA, in 1949, at the height of the shipbuilding industry and features a mixed-race child and a Wapanoag grandmother. To make certain of my characterizations, I hired a chief of that tribe to read the finished manuscript.


I wrote...

Daughter of Winter

By Pat Lowery Collins,

Book cover of Daughter of Winter

What is my book about?

For years, I often drove past an old school house in the middle of a historic graveyard in Essex, Massachusetts. I imagined how children must have played amongst the headstones and ultimately decided that this place and shipbuilding town would be a unique setting for a novel. When I learned that many schooners from the numerous shipyards at mid-century had set sail for the gold fields, I knew I’d found the time in which to set my story of a young girl’s coming of age, the separations and deaths she must endure, and her brave search for a self that had always confounded her.  

Or, view all 10 books about Zimbabwe

New book lists related to Zimbabwe

All book lists related to Zimbabwe

Bookshelves related to Zimbabwe