Lately, I haven’t been reading, as much as, I want to. I used to be an avid reader, before I went to law school. But it was something about being forced to read chapter after chapter of ancient case law, tedious briefs and monotonous legal opinions that sapped my energy from reading writings that celebrated creativity. Year after year, I fell into the habit of reading more academic prose than literary fiction. Now, I want to get back to reading for pure enjoyment.
In university, one of my majors was English and I concentrated on literature of the African diaspora. My concentration was a no-brainer for me. However, during my time, I found it difficult to find books by African authors who gave tribute to the American immigrant experience. So, I have a habit of searching for complex African literature that either speaks to my dual cultural experiences or teaches me about my African heritage in a way that brings life to my history. If you’re like me, you probably have a standing reading list on Amazon or another platform where you can store books in reserve that peak your interest. Here are five literary sweets from my list…
1. Every Day Is For The Thief // Teju Cole
About a young Nigerian living in New York City who travels back to Lagos to visit. His happenings and observations in Lagos leads him to an introspective path of truth and reconciliation.
2. The Thing Around Your Neck // Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A compilation of proses about Nigerians in America and how they cope and live with their piece of the American pie.
3. Boy, Snow, Bird // Helen Oyeyemi
Although this book is not about African culture per se, it addresses the issues of passing as an element of cultural divide and the essence of race and heredity.
4. Chike and the River // Chinua Achebe
A children’s book that sparked my interest, so much so, I included it on one of my Christmas gift guides. It follows a sheltered Nigerian boy’s quest to travel to Asaba, a city he has never explored, which takes him on an adventure through quintessential Nigerian experiences.
5. Foreign God’s Inc. // Okey Ndibe
A desperate Nigerian cab driver living in New York plots to steal a statute of an ancient deity from his village in order to sell it to a NYC gallery. On his trip, he faces dichotomies of the Christian faith versus ancient beliefs, the modern life versus the exoticism of tribal living and the shifting nature of memory.
What African literary works are you reading?