During 2017 I did a good bit of reading, and even managed to read over 80 books according to Goodreads.
This did include books on Ghana/by Ghanaian authors as well as books on Africa/by African authors.
For Ghana, I only read one fiction book:
From pasta to pigfoot, by Frances Mensah Williams [written by a diasporan Ghanaian, taking place in both the UK and Ghana]
Why only one fiction book from Ghana? Well, I do admit that I don’t have very many on my TBR shelves.
For non-fiction there were a few more:
- The President’s physician: Bumps on a smooth road, by Bettina Ama Boohene-Andah [memoirs of President Kufuor’s physician]
- What’s up: Vocabulary for those new to America, by James Gyasi Boateng
- Ghana on the go – African mobility in the age of motor transportation, by Jennifer Hart
- Future of the tree – Towards growth and development of Kumasi, edited by Kwasi Kwafo Adarkwa
- Values, standards and practices in Ghanaian organisational life, by Samuel N Woode
- Crossing the color line: Race, sex and the contested politics of colonialism in Ghana, by Carina E Ray [included a chapter of several women married to Ghanaians]
- Reflections of an ordinary African woman, by Akua Djanie
I did read several books by African writers:
- Aya de Yopougon, vols 4-6, by Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie [graphic novel, read in French!]
- Born on a Tuesday, by Elnathan John
- Blackass, by A Igoni Barrett [for Accra Book Club]
- Amie: An African adventure, by Lucinda E Clarke [gave this a low 2 star rating]
- Radiance of tomorrow, by Ishmael Beah [for Accra Book Club]
- The maestro, the magistrate and the mathematician, by Tendai Huchu [for
Accra Book Club]
- Behold the dreamers, by Imbolu Mbue [for Accra Book Club]
- Who will catch us as we fall, by Iman Verjee [for GhanaMustRead book group]
For non-fiction on Africa, I read the following:
- We should all be feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- The bad-ass librarians of Timbuktu, by Joshua Hammer [for Accra Book Club]
- The house my father built, by Adewale Maja-Pearce [dealing with tenants in an inherited
block of flats in Lagos!]
- The African city – a history, by Bill Freund
- Longthroat memoirs, by Yemisi Aribisala
- Born a crime, by Trevor Noah [for GhanaMustRead book group]
Part of my reading by Ghanaians/on Ghana depends on availability. I do find there aren’t a lot of fiction books written by Ghanaians. As for the books on Africa/African fiction, there is of course much more choice.
At the moment I am involved with two book clubs/ book groups here in Accra. Here are the reading choices for 2017 – at least what I know of, as of the time of writing.
Accra Book Club (contact via accrabookclub [at] gmail [dot] com). Meets monthly except July (and even that is flexible).
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi – January 2017
Do not say we have nothing, by Madelein Thien – February 2017
The underground railroad, by Colson Whitehead – March 2017
Blackass, by Igoni Barrett – April 2017
The bad-ass librarians of Timbuktu, by Joshua Hammer – May 2017
Wonder, by R J Palacio – June 2017
The sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen – August 2017
13 ways of looking at a fat girl, by Mona Awad – September 2017
Radiance of tomorrow, by Ishmael Beah – October 2017
The woman who breathed two worlds, by Selina Sian Chin Yoke – November 2017?
The maestro, the magician and the mathematician, by Tendai Huchu – December 2017?
Behold the dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue – January 2018?
NAWA book group (nb: one has to be a member of NAWA in order to take part, but I still thought I should share the list):
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi – January 2017
A man called Ove, by Fredrick Backman – February 2017
Longbourn, by Jo Baker – March 2017
Dead wake, by Erik Larson – April 2017
Caliph’s house, by Tahir Shah – May 2017
The Wright brothers, by David McCullough – June 2017
Of course, all the above titles are available via Kindle (and I presume Nook). And Vidya Book Store in Osu does stock some titles.
Usually sometime early in the year I look back on my reading for the previous year, and share the books on Ghana and Africa I read.
For Ghanaian fiction, I read three novels: two are diasporan authors, while one is based based here in Ghana (at least now)
- Glover, Boakyewaa – The justice
- Gyasi, Yaa – Homegoing [a January 2017 choice for two book clubs/groups I belong to!]
- Quartey, Kwei – Murder at Cape Three Points
For Ghanaian non-fiction, I count four works
- Addo-Kufuor, Kwame – Gold Coast boy [autobiography, by a brother of Ghana’s former President, a physician and politician]
- Ashun, Mary – Tuesday’s child [another autobiography, with an emphasis on the author’s childhood]
- Insaidoo, Kwame Afadzi – Ghana – An incomplete independence or a dysfunctional democracy?
- NAWA – No worries. 6th ed [I actually have all 6 editions of this guidebook to Accra!]
My African fiction category is a mixed bag, including some novels with locations in African settings, which I realize some people might not consider “real” African fiction.
- Abouet, Marguerite & Oubrerie, Clement – Aya de Yopougon 1-3 [a series of graphic novels with Ivoirian characters]
- Banda-Aaku, Ellen – Sula and Ja [story for young adults/teens by prize-winning Zambian author]
- Boyd, William – Solo [anoatther James Bond novel, partially set in Nigeria]
- Camus, Albert – The stranger [this was a re-read of the classic]
- Davids, Nadia – An imperfect blessing
- Farah, Nuruddin – Hiding in plain sight [read for Accra Book Club]
- Guillaume, Laurent – White leopard [thriller, with a Malian location]
- Jemisin, N K – The fifth season [prize-winning science fiction/fantasy novel which takes place in what had once been Africa’s tropical regions]
- Jonasson, Jonas – The girl who saved the King of Sweden [another comic book from this Swedish author;the main character is South African]
- Lotz, Sarah – The three [author is South African, and part of the novel is set there]
- Mahlangu, Songeziwe – Penumbra
- McCain, Paula – Circling the sun [read for Accra Book Club, set in colonial Kenya]
- Orford, Margie – Like clockwork [thriller set in South Africa]
- Singh, Astha – Congo journey [mostly on the Indian community]
- Walker, Rebecca – Ade – a love story [set mostly in Tanzania]
African non-fiction was a bit sparse last year, with only three books
- Agyeman-Duah, Ivor – Africa – a miner’s canary into the 21st century
- Beckman, Bjorn & Gbemisola, Adeoti – Intellectuals and African development
- Kpomassie, Tete-Michel – An African in Greenland [quite touching in parts]
I do admit that, apart from book clubs/groups, I don’t really plan my reading. I do have a lot of TBR books which fill one medium bookcase, and always feel I should concentrate a bit more on these books, but somehow it doesn’t always work out!
Some of my Ghanaian and African reads for the first six months of 2016 include
Ghana reads include books by Ghanaian authors, Ghanaians in the diaspora, on Ghana, or with a Ghanaian setting:
- Quartey, Kwei: Murder at Cape Three Points (mystery/crime with Inspector Darko Dawson)
- Agyeman-Duah, Ivor: Africa – a miner’s canary into the 21st century (a collection of essays on African countries)
- Insaidoo, Kwame Afadzi: Ghana – An incomplete independence or a dysfunctional democracy (political analysis)
Africa reads include books by African authors, Africans in the diaspora, on African countries, or with an African setting:
- Singh, Astha: Congo – a journey (fictional account of an Indian family in DRC)
- Guillaume, Laurent: White leopard (thriller set in Mali)
- Mahlangu, Songeziwe: Penumbra (prize-winning South African novel with the main character having a mental breakdown)
- Camus, Albert: The stranger (this was a re-read of the classic which I originally read in French)
- Orford, Margie: Like clockwork (crime/thriller set in South Africa)
- McCain, Paula: Circling the sun (fictional account of early part of Beryl Markham’s life, mostly set in colonial Kenya) [read for Accra Book Club]
- Davids, Nadia: An imperfect blessing (a family saga set in the Cape Town of 1993-94)
- Farah, Nuruddin: Hiding in plain sight (a diasporan Somali family adapts to loss of a member to a terrorist attack) [read for Accra Book Club]
- Banda-Aaku, Ellen: Sula and Ja (a young adult novel about two teens discovering more about each other, set in Zambia)
Plus a special mention of three cookbooks with African/Ghanaian connections:
- Sloley, Patti Gyapomaa: A date with plantain (I admit that ripe plantain is one of my absolutely favourite foods)
- Osseo-Asare, Fran and Baeta, Barbara: The Ghana cookbook (comprehensive, and great if you are a non-Ghanaian or not living in Ghana)
- Timothy, Duval and others: The groundnut cookbook (lots of West African recipes adapted to more Western/UK tastes)
Two book related events this past week: an Accra Book Club discussion and a visiting writer.
Accra Book Club was a rescheduled event, so there were only two of us – one of the other regulars having traveled! But we had a good talk about Anthony Doerr’s bestseller, All the light we cannot see, and other books and reading in general.
The visiting writer was Elnathan John, who recently published his first novel, Born on a Tuesday. The readings were organized by the Writers Project of Ghana, and took place at Vidya Book Store in Osu. About 40 or so people came and all seemed pretty engaged. Elnathan John read excerpts from his novel, which was available for sale, and at a reasonable price, and spoke about writing, especially in the context of Northern Nigeria. It was a very enjoyable way to spend a late Saturday afternoon!
I look forward to more of such events.
The recent news of the death of Harper Lee brought to mind the Accra Book Club’s choice of Go set a watchman and To kill a mockingbird as our first reads for 2016.
I think all of us had read To kill a mockingbird in younger days (usually in secondary school/high school, so this was a while ago) and/or seen the award winning film starring Gregory Peck as Atticus.
So it was definitely re-reading a book from an earlier era, in the context of also reading a sequel (by when it takes place)/ prequel (when it was actually written).
We all agreed that To kill a mockingbird was definitely the better book, and still worth reading. It really is a classic of the 20th century.
The end of January saw one of those typical Accra days when there seemed to be a multitude of events all happening on the same day.
Not unsurprisingly I chose to attend two book events – back to back: a long awaited cookbook launch and the first Accra Book Club gathering of the year.
The first was the launch The Ghana cookbook, by Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baeta, at Flair Catering. I have followed the first author’s food blog, (Betumi Blog ) for several years, so I was aware that this cookbook has been in the making for quite some time.
The audience was mostly female (not too surprising) and many were not young (probably not too surprising either). Apart from some historical background provided by both the authors/cooks, I particularly enjoyed Elizabeth Ohene’s tribute, part of which is mentioned in the following article .
And to top off the occasion there were delicious Ghanaian small chops, including one or two which brought back memories of life in Kumasi in the not so easy 1980s.
I had already bought a copy of the cookbook, but at least I managed to get it specially autographed.
I am not a real foodie, as I don’t cook much, but I do like reading through cookbooks and recipes. And indeed I do have a few shelves of them!