General Question

stardust's avatar

Has anyone studied African Literature?

Asked by stardust (10544points) June 8th, 2010

If so, can you point me in the direction of a good place to start. I am familiar with some African poets, but I would like to acquaint myself with lit on a wider scale. I am in the process of doing some research online and in the library. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

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15 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

“Things Fall Apart” (by Chinua Achebe) is a brilliant novel written in the 1950’s about what was then Nigeria and is now Biafra. Achebe went on to write poetry and more novels, and is now a chaired professor at Brown University.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinua_Achebe

“He is best known for his first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature.”

Here is a list of African writers by country.(by_country)

I would also recommend the Cairo Trilogy, about several families during the British occupation, by Naguib Mahfouz.

He won the 1988 Nobel Prize for literature.

Dr_C's avatar

My only experience with African literature has already been mentioned. But without citing other people’s opinion or linking to them I can tell you that “Things Fall Apart” was a fantastic read with a brilliant message and provides a beautiful glimpse into a wonderful mind. I read it for the first time in High School and was enthralled. I’ve read it many times since and still love it.

It truly is a must read.

gailcalled's avatar

I forgot “Half a Yellow Sun,” which I also loved.

”....a novel that was written by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It was first published in 2006 by Knopf/Anchor and tells the story of two sisters Olanna and Kainene during the Biafran War.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half_of_a_Yellow_Sun

stardust's avatar

@gailcalled Thank you. This is very helpful and much appreciated.
@Dr_C Thanks. I’m going to get started this week.

stardust's avatar

@gailcalled I have just come across the Cairo Trilogy now :)

plethora's avatar

Which of the 55 African nations would you be referencing?

Just a heads up….Africa is a continent. Different countries, different cultures, different literature. We Americans tend to think of the continent as if it had only one culture, as in the use of the adjective “African-American”. (Such a politically correct term which, as with other PC adjectives, has no basis in fact.) Africa has at least 55 different cultures.

Dr_C's avatar

@plethora and why would the OP limit themselves to the literature of just one country as oposed to samples from various different countries that make up the continent and may have a similar underlying culture?

Would it be wrong to want to read samplings of south american literature? how about caribbean literature?

stardust's avatar

@Dr_C Thank you :)
@plethora I’m aware of this, but thanks for the heads up. Also, I’m not American.
I’m open to various works, as @Dr_C so eloquently explains.

gailcalled's avatar

@Dr_C :Note that I listed writers by country in my link that says “Here is a list of African writers by country.”

plethora's avatar

@Dr_C ummm….perfectly good idea.

With the reference to “African” literature, I’m not sure there is any such meaningful broad classification. Even a reference to North American literature would be too broad to be meaningful, and African, as a broad classification, may be even less meaningful. The nations of Africa are a very broad and diverse mix of cultures.

Coloma's avatar

If you decide to take up the Djembe you must travel to Africa and be tutored by a master tribal drummer.
Then…you must kill a hen and a cock and soak your drumsticks in their blood and place beneath your pillow, so the spirits of the deceased master drummers will infuse you.

Oh…you just want to read native poetry. lol

plethora's avatar

@stardust I’ve covered the subject?? Ok to stop?

stardust's avatar

@gailcalled I’ve since read ‘Things Fall Apart’. Excellent rec. Thank you very much :)

gailcalled's avatar

@stardus: I am really pleased about that. Let us both remember that the book is written by a Nigerian and is not African literature.

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