image What about Meera?

By Tolu Akinwole


  • Title: What about Meera
  • Author: Z P Dala
  • Publisher: Umuzi
  • Number of pages: 256
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

What about Meera is not a question; it is a fervent quest for the place of the socially marginalised in the scheme of things. What about Meera is not a question; it is a witty record of the palpitations of broken hearts and broken dreams. What about Meera is not a question; it is a determined unearthing of buried sherds, tracing the quotidian struggles of the peasant Indians of Tongaat (‘in rich detail’, the blurb adds). Z P Dala’s debut offering follows the escape of a young, South African woman of Indian descent from Durban to Dublin in search of life and love. More…

image The Naguib Mahfouz Reader: Portrait of a Novelist as a Historian

By Emeka Ugwu


  • Title: The Naguib Mahfouz Reader
  • Editor: Denys Johnson-Davies
  • Publisher: The American University in Cairo Press
  • Number of pages: 327
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction and Autobiography

‘You can’t understand Egypt without Mahfouz – without his characters, with whom every reader, Arab or not, can identify’. – Tahar Ben Jelloun

‘The older distinction between fiction and history [must] give place to the recognition that we can only know the actual by contrasting it with or likening it to the imaginable’. – Hayden White

Edited by Denys Johnson-Davies, whom the cultural critic and public intellectual Edward Said described as ‘the leading Arabic-English translator of our time’, The Naguib Mahfouz Reader starts an unwitting reader out on a heady journey straight into the heart of modern Egypt. It is a book that houses English translations of a small selection of short stories, excerpts of novels and autobiographical works by the Egyptian Nobel Laureate, Naguib Mahfouz. The collection showcases writings that span six decades, from 1944 to 2004. More…

image Of the Crescent and the Crown

By Tolu Akinwole


  • Title: The Televangelist
  • Author: Ibrahim Essa
  • Translator: Jonathan Wright
  • Publisher: Hoopoe
  • Number of pages: 483
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

In keeping with the need, in this age, for thorough intellectual scrutiny of dearly held beliefs, Ibrahim Essa deploys his novel, The Televangelist, as a means of examining and contesting the hegemony of Islamic ideology in twenty-first-century Egypt. Crammed into the 483-paged novel is a fusion of Islamic theology and socio-political analysis with a double dose of wit, as expected of the satire that it is. Engaging the reader on these levels, Essa lays out his own thesis on religion and the State’s involvement in it. More…

image Remembering Highlife

By Dami Ajayi


  • Title: Highlife Giants: West African Dance Band Pioneers
  • Author: John Collins
  • Publisher: Cassava Republic Press
  • Number of pages: 320
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Music

The West African phenomenon, Highlife music, is many things to many people. To some, it is a colonial legacy. To others, it is an abiding aesthetic. Yet to some, it is dance music for wiggling derrières, perhaps the finest that came out of West Africa in the period spanning about twenty-five years on both sides of colonial independence. More…

image From Nigeria to the World with Love: A Review of Route 234

By Su’eddie Vershima Agema


  • Title: Route 234
  • Editor: Pelu Awofeso
  • Publisher: Homestead Media
  • Number of pages: 212
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Travel

Travel writing is an exciting sub-genre of prose that allows readers view the beauty or ugliness of different places through the subjective lenses of the writer. Though it is not as popular as fiction, various writers have explored it across time. While in earlier times, it was the narratives of white explorers about the continent as seen in works like the narratives of Mungo Park, there are now more works by African travellers about Africa. A ready example of a current work is Sihle Khumalo’s Dark Continent, My Black Arse, an often humorous account of Khumalo’s journey from the Cape to Cairo using different means of public transport. There are also blogs these days, such as Black Girl Wanderlust and Zuru Kenya where people explore their views of new lands and places of interest. It is into this ever widening body of writing that the anthology, Route 234, falls. More…

image Sweet Medicine: On How to Beat the Odds as a Young Woman in Collapsed Zimbabwe

By Adaudo Anyiam-Osigwe


  • Title: Sweet Medicine
  • Author: Panashe Chigumadzi
  • Publisher: BlackBird Books
  • Number of pages: 210
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

Sweet Medicine may be regarded as a coming-of-age story, in as much as it is the story of a young woman’s acknowledgement of the odds against her, the desperation of living under the spirit-destroying burden of a collapsed modern Zimbabwe, and her decision and subsequent actions to overcome those odds. More…

image A Review of Hiding in Plain Sight

By Agatha Aduro


  • Title: Hiding in Plain Sight
  • Author: Nuruddin Farah
  • Publisher: Kwani Trust
  • Number of pages: 322
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

A dream, a premonition and an al-Shabaab attack open Nuruddin Farah’s novel, Hiding in Plain Sight. The book – the author’s twelfth novel – is mostly set in Nairobi and tells the story of the death of Aar, a UN staff who is murdered in Mogadiscio, and how his family and loved ones cope with the loss. More…

image In Memory of a Coloured Crime

By Tolu Akinwole


  • Title: Born a Crime and Other Stories
  • Author: Trevor Noah
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan South Africa
  • Number of pages: 342
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Memoir

Ensconced in your cosy couch in your snug living room, you are watching a television show. It is one of these satirical television shows that analyse political happenings in the US. You are not, perhaps, an American, but you know these are very interesting times for Americans. The host is a fair-complexioned young man who is doing an impressive job of ‘cracking up’ his audience and incisively analysing the American political situation. Now you are asking yourself questions: ‘Who is that man?’ ‘Where did he get that insight from?’ You can easily figure out the answer to the first question because his name gleams on the screen almost as soon as you ask yourself, as if you and the television were elements of a piece of science fiction in which the television has learnt to read the human mind: Trevor Noah. The answer to the second question is hidden in Born a Crime and Other Stories, a charming summary of the first three decades of his life. Trevor Noah’s memoir recounts the adventure of an outsider in his own land, a lone leaf afloat on a troubled sea. More…

image The Fishermen, a Nationalist Reading

By Kwabena Agyare Yeboah


  • Title: The Fishermen
  • Author: Chigozie Obioma
  • Publisher: Cassava Republic Press
  • Number of pages: 301
  • Year of publication: 2015
  • Category: Fiction

One day in the lives of four brothers, the eldest, Ikenna, comes home with an announcement stuck in his pocket. He assembles the rest of his brothers. His voice clean and shiny, he says to them that they would become fishermen. They would ply their trade in the Omi-Ala River. The river has seen great years. Once the source of life for the early settlers of Akure, the combined effect of modernity and time has rendered it useless, ‘A cradle besmeared’ (p 21). At the riverbank, they meet Abulu, a man who is equally gifted with seeing and insanity. His prophecy will bind and break the brothers. Their career will last nearly six weeks but they will bear the name – The Fishermen – for life. More…

image Hustling for Discourse: Between Sociology, Psychology and Literature

By Tomiwa Ilori


  • Title: The Peculiars
  • Author: Jen Thorpe
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House South Africa (Pty) Ltd
  • Number of pages: 243
  • Year of publication: 2016
  • Category: Fiction

The vocabulary of psychiatry became expanded when psychoanalysis and its study occurred as social challenge then later as social experiment. It has since become almost impossible to view mental well-being in isolation from other social attitudes. One of these attitudes considers those afflicted with mental illness as having their own way of perceiving the world, a way that is more interesting than the competing belief that organised society is the real world. More…