It has occurred to me that though I have talked quite a bit about the Accra Book Club, I haven’t been very consistent in listing what we have read, and what we are going to read.
So here I am trying to make amends.
These are the first three books we shall be reading and discussing in 2013:
- Open city, by Teju Cole
- On Africa, by Wole Soyinka
- Dune, by Frank Herbert
And during 2012 we read the following – in reverse order
- A farewell to arms, by Ernest Hemingway
- a classic war story. Several of us hadn’t finished reading/re-reading this. [All right, that included yours truly! but I will finish it over the holidays]
- My first coup d’etat: Memories from lost decades of Africa, by John Dramani Mahama
- autobiographical stories from the current President of Ghana. Interesting for both long-term residents and newcomers. All who read it thought the book raised many unanswered questions about the author himself, the reason for writing the book and the process of writing it.
- A free man of color, by Barbara Hambly
- the first of a series of mysteries, set in New Orleans in the early 19th century, with a free black hero, who is both a musician and a trained surgeon. Very enjoyable, with a background that seemed very real.
- Half-blood blues, by Esi Edugyan
- Winner of several major prizes, including the Canadian Scotiabank Giller prize in 2011. African-American jazz players in Hitler’s Germany, with love and betrayal – and redemption.
- The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
- Wonderful story of the family of Henrietta Lacks, whose tissue samples survived her for many years! Fascinating in its exploration of medical research and changing ethics towards it.
- Little hands clapping, by Dan Rhodes
- Rather weird story about a suicide museum, with some distinctly gross characters. But then book clubs should introduce one to works one wouldn’t normally read, so I am not complaining!
- Indigo, by Catherine McKinley
- Chosen in honour of one of the Accra Book Club’s long-standing members who was interested in cloth. Intriguing for its portrayal of the author, rather than what she reported about indigo dye and cloth.
- Pigeon English, by Stephen Kelman
- This was one of the books shortlisted for the Booker prize in 2011 – and mainly because it has a Ghanaian connection in the young narrator, who is a recent immigrant from Ghana to a London high-rise housing estate. We all wondered whether the author had actually spent time in Ghana, as some elements of the descriptions of Harry’s “home” didn’t seem to ring true.
- Super sad true love story, by Gary Shteyngart
- A rather weird story about a post-today New York with far too familiar elements carried to their scary conclusions. Most of us didn’t like it.
- The uncommon reader, by Alan Bennett
- Unfortunately the member who recommended this entertaining little satire wasn’t around to enjoy our discussion, which was almost uniformly favourable. I guess we are all a bunch of Anglophobes at heart!
- Ten years of the Caine Prize for African fiction
- Lots of good short stories, though it is often hard to discuss these individually.
By the way, if someone reading this is in Accra, and wants to join our group, do leave a comment, and I will get back to you.