Before you touch down on the African continent, take a peek at some of the best novels to come out of the motherland


The No1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Precious Ramotswe decides to become Africa’s Miss Marple and help her neighbours by solving crimes in their small town. At first she’s dealing with errant husbands and insurance claims, then things turn more sinister when she’s called in to search for a boy who she suspects has fallen victim to witchcraft. This award-winning book based in the picturesque country of Botswana makes the perfect travel companion.


The Famished Road by Ben Okri

Booker prize winner, Nigerian author Ben Okri plays with the idea of the spiritual and material worlds co-existing, which is a part of African life. Azaro is a child who lives in the material world and his spirit brothers and sisters send messengers to encourage him to leave his mortal life behind and join them. However, Azaro is refusing as life is too interesting thanks to his bar owning mortal mother and his human father who decides that he wants to become a pugilist. And there’s also an election with corrupt MPs.


Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Mandela talks about his childhood in South Africa, his 28-year imprisonment on Robben Island and then how as president he helped rebuild the once segregated society. The book won the Alan Paton award and has been printed in nine languages. Through his journey you can see how far the country itself has come too.


A Grain Of Wheat by Ngugi Wa Thiong’O

This classic novel weaves together an array of different stories to tell the story of Kenya’s fight for independence. The central character is Mugo who becomes a hero after trying to stop a village guard from beating a pregnant woman to death. Although while everyone is on his side, it turns out that he is also hiding a dark secret.


Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

This classic novel focuses on pre and post-colonial life in Nigeria. It was one of the first books out of Africa to receive global acclaim.  It follows the life of Okonkwo, a local wrestling champion in a fictional Nigerian village. The village elder says that he needs to carry out an extreme punishment on behalf of the village, and when he does Okonkwo’s life takes a downward spiral.

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