Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

An African Reading List

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Swapna Krishna

Staff Writer

Swapna is the Comics Editor at Book Riot. She's a Space Columnist for Paste Magazine and writes for Syfy Wire—Fangrrls,, Bustle, and other sites. She co-hosts a podcast called Desi Geek Girls. You can find her incessant ramblings on Twitter at @skrishna. She lives outside Philadelphia.

If you’re like me and are trying to diversify your reading, then you know that discoverability is an issue. I want to start reading more books by non-U.S. and UK authors, but where do I start? Well, if you’re interested in African authors, here’s what I’ve got.

Through extensive Googling and suggestions from fellow Rioters, I’ve compiled the following list. These are fiction books by African authors, sorted by country. Not every African country is represented here, though I did my best. All of these books are available for purchase in the U.S. If an author has written multiple books (such as Achebe or Adichie), I listed just one so you’d have the author’s name. I also did not have any sort of genre/format restriction, so though most of these are adult literary fiction, not all of them are.

I can’t necessarily recommend these books one way or another because many of them I haven’t read (though I have read a good number), but hopefully this list will get you started. I absolutely know I missed books on this list, so please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments, as well as provide recommendations if you have read some of these books.


The Attack – Yasmina Khadra

The Bridges of Constantine – Ahlem Mosteghanemi


Good Morning Comrades – Ondjaki


The Screaming of the Innocent – Unity Dow


Houseboy – Ferdinand Oyono

Democratic Republic of Congo

Johnny Mad Dog – Emmanuel Dongala Emmanuel Dongala
Broken Glass – Alain Mabanckou
The Witch Doctor’s Wife – Tamar Myers
Life and a Half – Sony Lanou Tansi


In the United States of Africa – Abdourahman A. Waberi


The Yacubian Building – Alaa Al Aswany
The Cairo Trilogy – Naguib Mahfouz
The Map of Love – Ahdaf Soueif


All Our Names – Dinaw Mengestu
Beneath the Lion’s Gaze – Maaza Mengiste
Cutting for Stone – Abraham Verghese


Our Sister Killjoy – Ama Ata Aidoo
The Seasons of Beento Blackbird – Akosua Busia
Faceless – Amma Darko
Wife of the Gods – Kwei Quartay
Ghana Must Go – Taiye Selasi

Ivory Coast

Aya: Life in Yop City – Marguerite Abouet, Clement Oubrerie, Helge Dascher
Allah is Not Obliged – Ahamdou Kourouma


The Cockroach Dance – Meja Mwangi
Nairobi Heat – Mukoma Wa Ngugi
A Grain of Wheat – Ngugi wa Thiong’o
The In-Between World of Vikram Lall – M.G. Vassanji


Chaka – Thomas Mofolo


Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile – Won-Ldy Paye


Gold Dust – Ibrahim al-Koni
In the Country of Men – Hisham Matar


The Last of the Sweet Bananas: New and Selected Poems – Jack Mapanje


The Fortunes of Wangrin – Amadou Hampate Ba


The Last Brother – Nathacha Appanah


The Lovers of Algeria – Anouar Benmalek
Horses of God – Mahi Binebine
The Moor’s Account – Laila Lalami


Under the Frangipani – Mia Couto


The Purple Violet of Oshaantu – Neshami Andreas


No Longer at Ease – Chinua Achebe [edited for misspelling] Say You’re One of Them – Uwem Akpan
Everything Good Will Come – Sefi Atta
Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Open City – Teju Cole
Oil on Water – Helon Habila
Daughters Who Walk This Path – Yejide Kilanko
Foreign Gods, Inc – Okey Ndibe
I Do Not Come to You by Chance – Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
Akata Witch – Nnedi Okorafor
The Famished Road – Ben Okri
The Secret Lives of the Four Wives – Lola Shoneyin


So Long a Letter – Mariama Ba

Sierra Leone

Radiance of Tomorrow – Ishmael Beah
The Memory of Love – Aminatta Forna


Crossbones – Nuruddin Farah
The Orchard of Lost Souls – Nadifa Mohamed

South Africa

Broken Monsters – Lauren Beukes
Disgrace – J. M. Coetzee
The October Killings – Wessel Ebersohn
In a Strange Room – Damon Galgut
The Conservationist – Nadine Gordimer
The Three – Sarah Lotz
Ways of Dying – Zakes Mda


Minaret – Leila Aboulela


Paradise – Abdulrazak Gurnah


Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbe – Doreen Baingana
Abyssinain Chronicles – Moses Isegawa


Patchwork – Ellen Banda-Aaku
Baking Cakes in Kigali – Gaile Parkin


We Need New Names – NoViolet Bulawayo
Nervous Conditions – Tsitsi Dangarembga
The Hairdresser of Harare – Tendai Huchu
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith