Here are two books I’ve read recently. One is from sub-Saharan Africa, the other from northern Africa. They differ in tone and style, but both are highly entertaining:
Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi Wa’Thiong’O
This tale has elements of folklore, politics, and satire–African magic realism. The trickster meets the dictator. Corruption galore. And a real heart–a human, touching story at the core.
The Yacoubian Building by al Aswany
Multiple stories about people at all levels of society, male and female, rich and poor, gay and straight, living in the same Cairo apartment building, are woven together in this masterfully plotted novel of contemporary Egypt. The characters are vivid, the pace energetic. Though the book is short, it paints a portrait of Islamic society confronting the West with depth and subtlety. The plot builds to a satisfying climax and conclusion. The style is realistic and straight-forward, with irony provided by contrasting viewpoints of the inter-related characters.
There’s an essay in me somewhere about books about Africa by non-Africans vs. books by Africans. Hope to write it soon.