Misanthropic, over-sexed hero Morgan Leafy is the first secretary of the British High Commission in an imaginary African country. He is insecure, hopeless, laughable and highly unsuccessful. A very funny black comedy about a surburban middle manager which takes a dim view of colonial intervention in Africa.
A slim, pocket-sized guide to the essentials of Cairo for the traveller on any budget. Includes a brief history, the sights arranged by region with accommodation and food in the back. Brief but useful.
By far the best looking of the Kenyan guides, this lavish guidebook is packed with full-page photographs. Arranged by themes rather than location, for example, history, animals and the safari experience â€“ can be frustrating as the hotel and restaurant listings are bulked together at the back rather than listed by area.
The best modern account of travels in Ethiopia, well written and particularly good at weaving in the history. Marsden really knows the country; his first book told of his travels here in the Menghistu years and his latest, The Barefoot Emperor, is a highly recommended history of the Emperor Tewodros and his stand at Mekdala.
Philip Gourevitch, journalist and editor of the Paris Review, took the title of this book from a note that was sent from a persecuted Tutsi pastor to his Church president. This collection of real-life stories from survivors of the Rwandan genocide is as human, heartbreaking and intricately researched. Highly recommended.
This is the memoir of Alexandra Fuller, a young girl growing up in an extraordinary family in violent, 1970s Rhodesia. Steeped in a passion for Africa and told with courage, honesty and humour, it is highly recommended.
Pieced together from diaries and letters written in the early 20th century, Christina Lamb narrates the story of Stewart Gore-Browne, a man who tried to build the perfect English estate on the edge of a Zambian lake. From whimsical ambitions to his unconventional love life, Lamb has brought her subject and his curious story to life.
This existential fable is the story of Meursault, the young murderer of an Arabic man in Algiers, awaiting his trial and execution. It is not this violent act however, that perplexes and horrifies society, but his total lack of feeling: he shows absolutely no remorse for his action or grief at the death of his mother. A thought-provoking, controversial novel deserving of its cult status.
Ben Okri's Booker prize-winning novel, The Famished Road, tells the story of Azaro, a spirit child who has chosen to stay in real world rather than return to the 'heaven' where he belongs. The real world is a small Nigerian village facing disease, hunger and violence. Refreshing and beautifully written, this wonderful novel tight rope walks the line between poetry and prose.
Fuelled by the tragic murder of his wife Tessa, a British bureaucrat begins to explore the murky world of greed and corruption in contemporary Nairobi. Both a moving, posthumous love story and nail-biting thriller.
This is the story of two doctors and an unlikely friendship which develops between them when they are forced to share a room at a rural hospital. Frank represents the old South Africa, middle-aged, underachieving and cynical. Laurence, is post-apartheid South Africa, young, idealistic and energetic. Original, hallucinatory fiction that should have won Galgut the Booker in 2003.
It is 1950s South Africa and the Reverend Stephen Kumalo sets out on a journey from his rural village to trace his sister in Johannesburg. A heartbreaking, poetic lament, for Stephen's journey is more like Dante's descent into the nine circles of hell; this is an informative, tragic novel about the inequalities and violence of apartheid.
The Harmless People is a fascinating anthropological study by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas who, in the 1950s, was one of the first white people to spend time with the Kalahari bushmen. Thomas made later trips during the 1980s to update her work and to watch with horror the costs of inevitable industrialisation.
Winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007, Agualusa's whimsical, poignant novel is about a man who can rebuild your past complete with new family tree and new memories. It is, however, written from the point of view of a gecko. If you enjoy the poetry and magic of Latin American fiction you will enjoy this.
In 1798, aged just 28, Napoleon attacked Egypt with 335 ships and 40,000 men intending to follow the footsteps of Alexander the Great. His plan failed; yet the findings of the 150 scientists, mathematicians, artists and writers he took with him would form the beginnings of Egyptology. A fascinating and readable historical account of Napoleon's Egyptian odyssey.
This is the biography of Valentino Achek Deng, a Sudanese lost boy, told to and written by the excellent Dave Eggers. Deng was one of thousands of children forced to flee the Civil War in Sudan and trek hundreds of miles to Kenyan refugee camps avoiding wild animals, the armed Janjaweed and military air strikes. Beautifully told, utterly shocking and absolutely necessary reading. Highly recommended.
Shortlisted as one of the best of forty years of the Booker prize, Nadine Gordimer's powerful novel is about a smug, white, financier who seems to have it all. Yet, Mehring must watch as his life and the farm, which is a symbol of South Africa as a whole, fall apart around him. This is a novel of irony and contradiction, a poetic tour de force which leaves the book free for any interpretation.
Kapuscinski spent over 40 years travelling around the African continent as a Polish war correspondent. Collected here are his adventures, from dangerous travelling tales to his unique insights into the history and politics of modern Africa. Brilliant, informative and highly enjoyable.
The first novel in Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy introduces shopkeeper Ahmad Al Jawad and his family. Set in the 1920s Mahfouz uses their story to explore the rising political and cultural unrest in his beloved country. This exquisitely written novel is the fate of a nation played out in a deeply human context.
One of the grand masters of post-colonial, African fiction, Chinua Achebe's novel tells the story of Okonkwo, the 'strong man' of a small Nigerian village. The story concerns Okonkwo's fall from stature within the tribe and the cultural destruction of his village by European missionaries. Wole Soyinka described Achebe's work as, 'The first novel in English which spoke from the interior of an African character, rather than portraying the African as exotic, as the white man would see him.'