#100AfricanWomenWriters: 10. Deolinda Rodríguez de Almeida

Deolinda Rodríguez de Almeida lived an extremely short, but rich life. Known as the ‘Mother of the Revolution’- Angola’s Revolution – Deolinda was an Angolan nationalist, heroine, militant, writer and translator - who also taught, wrote poetry and worked as a radio host.

Photo via Dear Deolinda.
Rodríguez de Almeida was born 10 February 1939 at Ikolo-i-Bengo in district Katete, in the family of a Methodist pastor. She went on to a Methodist mission school, and secondary school in Luanda – living with her cousin, the poet Agostinho Neto, who went on to become the first president of Angola. Rodríguez de Almeida later received a scholarship to study in Sao Paulo, Brazil. As a sociology student at Methodist University in Sao Paulo, she corresponded with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
In a 30 May letter Rodriguez, a twenty-year-old Angolan student living in Brazil, requested King’s advice and support for the independence movement in her native country but admonished: “Please just do what You really can with no harm for You…. If some people have to pay with their lives…. let it be ourselves.” In his reply, King suggests that the Angolan movement needs a “person or some few persons to symbolize the struggle: “As soon as your symbol is set up it is not difficult to get people to follow, and the more the oppressor seeks to stop and defeat the symbol, the more it solidifies the movement.”
I found out more on Rodríguez de Almeida via her entry in Wikipedia, which discusses her life after leaving Sao Paulo:
Fearing she would be extradited from Brazil because of the Portuguese Imperial relationship between its colonies and her support of the growing Angolan Independence movement, Rodríguez de Almeida moved to the United States the following year and studied at Drew University. 
Because she wanted to be an active participant in Angola's independence, Rodríguez did not finish school and decided to leave the U.S. In February 1961, she was recruited to participate in the [Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola] (MPLA) attack on "Fortalesa", later gaining the honorary title of "Mother of the Revolution" Rodríguez traveled to Guinea-Bissau and Congo Kinshasa, where she co-founded the Organização da Mulher de Angola (Organization of Angolan Women; OMA), the women's division of the MPLA. She received guerrilla training in Kabinda, and joined the Esquadrão Kamy. She returned to Angola in 1962. As a revolutionary movement leader and activist, she campaigned for human rights in Angola, and was associated with the Corpo Voluntário Angolano de Assistência aos Refugiados (CVAAR).
Deolinda Rodríguez de Almeida was also a writer and a poet, and her writings can be found in two books - her diary, Diário de um exílio sem regress published in 2003; and her letters and correspondence - Cartas de Langidila e outs documents, published in 2004. They are both published in Portuguese. Although the entry in Wikipedia notes that her writings from 1963 
... show an increasing move towards Marxism–Leninism and a painful awareness that her womanhood made her invisible even though she was part of the leadership. She expressed her frustration at the discrimination she faced for her lack of domesticity saying that she was treated as if being single was "shameful or of the devil".
I also found some of Deolinda’s poetry on the website Dear Deolinda, set up by Marcia Gleckler who shares letters Deolinda wrote to her as well as their time together. The on-line memoir was also published as a book in 2011 (by the same name). Here is one of the poems, Luanda, written in 1956:
No longer the Luanda we once knew
the shade of the Mulemba tree
the Caconeiras and Piteiras
bringing us joy.
Instead, in their place
hi-rise buildings
occupy the sacred land
where familiar lovely gardens grew.
I am distressed
because Luanda is no longer
the beautiful African city
of my heart.
Do people today
find happiness here?
Unhappy people
greatly need Christ and school.
A sad truth.
How long can we wait?

-                          -  Poem via Dear Deolinda

As written in Immortal Heroes of the World
... in 1967, a large group of MPLA members – under the leadership of Deolinda Rodríguez de Almeida – was on its way to Angola from Congo to deliver food and medicines to the fighters of first military-political-district. On March 2, this group was attached by Roberto Marauders.
Rodríguez de Almeida and four other OMA members (Engracia dos Santos, Irene Cohen, Lucrecia Paim, and Teresa Afonso) were captured by the União dos Povos de Angola (UPA) guerrilla group (later, National Liberation Front of Angola) on 2 March 1968. They were tortured. Rodríguez de Almeida was taken to the FNLA camp, Kinkuzu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she was executed in prison. March 2 is celebrated every year in independent Angola as Angola Women’s Day. 

A documentary (in Portuguese) of Rodríguez de Almeida's life was released in 2014. Langidila—diário de um exílio semregresso (Langidila—Diary of an exile without return) took four years to complete, was filmed in Angola, Brazil and Mozambique, and interviews associates and incorporates text from Rodrígues's diaries. 

Still from Langidila documentary.

#100AfricanWomenWriters: 9. Aminata Sow Fall

'In life, you have to make choices. My choice is to write.' explains Senegalese writer Aminata Sow Fall in an interview with the Washington Post. And write she has done.

Born in 1941 in Saint-Louis, Senegal, Fall is said to be the ‘first published woman novelist from Francophone Black Africa’. To date, Fall has published more than eight novels and a number of essays, including Un grain de vie et d'espérance (Food for thought and tomorrow's life) in 2002 on her reflection on the significance of food in Senegal, followed by some twenty recipes proposed by Senegalese Chef Margo Harley. In June 2015, Fall received the Grand Prix de la Francophonie for her literary work in French.

Aminatta Sow Fall first achieved literary attention with the publication of Le Revenant (The Ghost) published in 1976. As described on the University of Western Australia's African Literature page, it follows:
... an honest post office worker, Bakar, who realises that he is in debt because he has been financing the extravagant needs of his circle of family and friends. So he steals money from his employer and ends up in prison for misappropriation of funds. He is then abandoned by all those who had profited from his extravagance and so Bakar decides to get his revenge. 
... when [Fall] published her first novel, 'Le Revenant', in Dakar in 1976, it was the first time a black African women had written a work of fiction in French which was not obviously and autobiography or memoir. 
Fall was also ‘the first Muslim woman writing in this particular context’.

Her second novel, La Grève des bàttu [The Beggars' Strike] was published in 1979 and has been translated into eleven languages, including into English by Dorothy S. Blair. In it, Mour Ndiaye takes draconian measures to rid Dakar's streets from its beggars in order to curry favour with the President. When the beggars are chased out of town, they regroup and reorganise. When the capital's inhabitants find it increasingly difficult to abide by the Prophet's instructions to give alms to the poor, the end of Mour Ndiaye's political career is in sight. 

La Grève des bàttu was nominated for the prestigious French literary prize the Prix Goncourt and awarded the Grand Prix litteraire de l’Afrique des Arenes. It has also been adapted for both stage (by Carlyle Brown) and screen (in 2000 by Malian director, Cheikh Oumar Sissoko and called Battu).

On the focus on beggars and begging in La Grève des bàttu, Fall explains in a 2012 interview how ‘many people ask me about that novel:
Begging is a crutch for this [Senegalese] society. Yes, we do need it, but it is a need that we created.  It is not an inherent need.  If we take it away, we don’t know what to do with ourselves.  We’ve twisted certain teachings in the Koran and we think that our salvation is based, in part, on our charitable offerings.  So instead of refusing to let these individuals live on the street and not have access to the most basic of necessities, instead of creating a system where we can be charitable by not relegating someone to destitution, we say that we must have beggars so we can give alms … We forget that in many cases we cause their poverty.  And in essence, we want them to stay there.  Because it makes us feel better about ourselves.  Because we want them to be dependent on us. Because we think we’re following a holier example.  In short, we isolate them in order to feel good about ourselves.  It is not right, but we use religion to justify it.  The Western world does it, too.  If someone thinks otherwise, they are in denial.
While Fall’s native tongue is Wolof, she writes exclusively in French. Her writing style - according to Fall, also tends to take a positive outlook as she also explains in this 2012 interview:
So it goes back to how I write.  I write about that light, the one that each of us has within us.  I do not tell, I show a pattern, example, or path.  Our world has changed so drastically that many people don’t even recognise that light anymore – they’ve gotten so wrapped up in this or that, money, success, fame, that they’ve isolated themselves from themselves.  Do you see?  They have taught themselves to ignore that inner core, that light, which is the very essence of their being.  Thus they wander emotionally, figuratively, and sometimes physically, do they not?  The solution is to rediscover that light, uncover it, feed it, and let it shine and influence our choices, actions, and behaviour.  That’s why the children in my novels succeed – because they, more so than the adults, have the courage to do what is right, by letting the good of the past direct their future.
It's difficult to write about Aminata Sow Fall without mentioning her track record – which, like all the other women featured so far in this series – is pretty fascinating. Her education was split between Senegal and France – spending several years at the Faidherbe grammar school before finishing her secondary schooling at the Van Vo grammar school in Dakar. After obtaining her baccalaureate, Aminata Sow Fall then went to France to train as an interpreter, while taking French language and literature classes at the Sorbonne. In France, a sense of her love for writing is revealed:
Sometimes while studying in the library, she would scribble lines of poetry, short stories, plays and random articles that were never edited for publication.
Fall later dropped the interpreter programme to concentrate on her academic studies – getting a degree in Modern Languages, where she became agrégée de letters. Returning to Senegal in the early 1960s, Fall became a teacher (she first taught at a high school and sometimes at the Institut Cesti, which trained journalists). Later she worked in a group under the auspices of the Commission Nationale de Reforme de l’Enseignement du Francaise  (National Reform Commission for the Teaching of French)- adapting the teaching of French language to African realities. There, they produced textbooks for senior classes in French grammar and literature. 

Her many accolades also includes: being a member of the Commission for Educational Reform responsible for the introduction of African literature into the French syllabus in Senegal, before becoming director of La Propriété littéraire (The Literary Property) in Dakar (1979-1988). She was appointed the first woman president of Senegal's Writer's Association in 1985. In 1990 she founded the publishing house Éditions Khoudia – named after her mother. Director of the Centre Africain d'Animation et d'Echanges Culturels in Dakar and head of the Centre International d'Etudes, de Recherches et de Réactivation sur la Littérature, les Arts et la Culture that organised regular national and international Conferences in Saint-Louis. In 1997, Aminata Sow Fall was awarded an Honorary Degree at Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

‘Fall says she considers herself a novelist first’, in June 2015, Fall received the Grand Prix de la Francophonie for her literary work in French. As explained in the Washington Post interview, 'Fall says she considers herself a novelist'. And one who draws a lot on her imagination - as she explains (also in that Washington Post interview):

All great works begin in the imagination …[and] a human being who does not dream realises nothing.’

Me, Myself and Alain: On My Mission to Read Alain Mabanckou's Books

Alain Mabanckou's works in English

Back in May 2012, I wrote a post revealing my obsession with wanting to read every book ever published by Alain Mabanckou - award-winning writer from Congo-Brazzaville.  Clearly, I was restricted by my inability to read French, but thankfully at that point four of Mabanckou's books had been translated into English - African Psycho (2007), Broken Glass (2009), Memoirs of a Porcupine (2011) and Black Bazaar (2012).  Not one to let my obsession go, I followed it up a few months later with a personal reading challenge - to spend a month reading Mabanckou's works that had been translated into English.

I started with African Psycho, which was first published in French 2003 and translated into English by Christine Schwartz Harley in 2007. A disturbingly funny novel, African Psycho centres on Gregorie Nakobomayo - quiet possibly the worst serial killer that never was - who lived in 'He-Who-Drinks-Water-Is-An-Idiot' and was plotting to kill his girlfriend, Germaine. I followed it up with Mabanckou's second novel to be translated into English, Broken Glass (published in French in 2005 and translated into English in 2009 by Helen Stevenson). The story follows Broken Glass, a 64-year-old former teacher madly in love with the bottle and a regular customer at the local bar Credit Gone West in the Trois-Cents neighbourhood. The owner, Stubborn Snail (don't you just love the names?) - wanting the bar to not 'vanish one day', gave Broken Glass a notebook 'to record, witness and pass on the history of the place', and boy did Broken Glass do that. 

While African Psycho had a 9-page non-stop narrative, Broken Glass was written with 'no full stops, only commas and more commas'. Yet, reading African Psycho and Broken Glass made me realise something about Alain Mabanckou - he wrote what he wanted, how he wanted and didn't seem to be confined by specific rules. Plus, I loved how disturbing, weird and humourous his writing was. So two books in, I was hooked! I had gone into the mind of a wanna-be serial killer, an alcoholic/former teacher/aspiring writer, and now I was off to find out what a porcupine thinks. 

First published in French in 2006 and translated into English in 2011 (also by Helen Stevenson), Memoirs of a Porcupine is about the (animal) double of a human. The porcupine tells us his life story of carrying out murders with (and for) his human master, Kibandi. Similar to Broken Glass, there are no full stops, only commas and more commas. My last book in my Alain Mabanckou month was Black Bazaar (first published in French in 2009 and translated into English in 2012 by Sarah Ardizonne). 

Unlike the first three books, Black Bazaar was the first book not set in Congo-Brazzaville, but in Paris. It followed the lives of African immigrants in France - as told by the narrator, Buttologist, who has lived in Paris for 15 years. Buttologist is a sapeur (a member of the Society of Ambience-makers and People of Elegance), spends time at an Afro-Cuban bar with other African immigrants in Paris, and is also an aspiring writer (like Broken Glass, in well, Broken Glass). Black Bazaar is his journal on everything - his relationship with Original Colour (his ex-girlfriend), his experiences with his racist neighbour, the 'Arab around the corner', his time at the Afro-Cuban bar with his friends, and even his view on colonialism and post-colonial Africa. 

By the end of my month reading Mabanckou's works, it was official, I was a hardcore fan. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait too long for Mabanckou's next offering. By 2013, Tomorrow I'll be Twenty - the fictionalised memoir of Alain Mabanckou's childhood in Pointe Noire - was released. Translated by Helen Stevenson, it was first published in French in 2010. 

Narrated through the voice of ten year old Michel, who lives in Pointe Noire, Congo in the 1970s, I must confess - without a doubt - this is my all-time favourite of Alain Mabanckou's books. I loved how historical events, such as the Cold War, were intertwined with the daily lives of a family living Congo-Brazzaville in the1970s. More than that I absolutely adored Michel. One my favourite lines from Michel - "I'll keep you in the castles I've got in my heart too, where no one can harm you". 

When interviewed by the Africa Book Club on the importance of writing this story, Mabanckou writes:
It was very important because I figured out that we had no stories told through the voice of a kid in Congolese literature. In 'Tomorrow I'll be Twenty', I wanted to explain the way we were living under this Congolese regime called 'Soviet Socialism'. We were a red country! Everything was Marx and Engels, about materialism and the philosophy coming from the USSR.
By now I was five books in. You would also think by this time my obsession with reading Alain Mabanckou's books would have died down a little. Not one bit! 

This hasn't been helped by the fact that since 2013, Alain Mabanckou has published four other books in English. There's Blue White Red (first published in French in 1999 and translated by Alison Dundy in 2013). As well as his essay - Letter to Jimmy (first published in French in 2007 and translated by Sara Meli Ansari in 2014). Letter to Jimmy is Mabanckou's 'love letter' to James Baldwin which was published in France in 2007 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Baldwin's death. It also serves (indirectly/unintentionally) as an introduction to Baldwin's writings. His memoir - The Lights of Pointe-Noire (first published in French in 2013 and translated by his regular translator Helen Stevenson in 2015),  sees Mabanckou return to Pointe-Noire after twenty-three years away; and most recently is Black Moses (first published in French in 2015 and translated by by Helen Stevenson in 2017). 

Five years later I like to think I haven't done too bad with my challenge - seven novels and one essay. Although I am yet to read Black Moses - it's currently on my reading list for this summer - or Blue White Red (very sad to say that is the one book that is not in my collection) ... and to think, there is still there is so much more of Mabanckou's work that are yet to be translated into English - poetry collections, novels and essays and non-fiction.  Still, it has been an absolutely amazing journey reading Alain Maanckou's books and being transported into the minds of very weird and wonderful character - and along the way, whether it was about childhood, folktales, magic, murder, migrating or returning home, the dark humour that first struck me when reading African Psycho hasn't gone away. 

My Mabanckou Collection. 
As I write this, I am counting down to July 2nd. Africa Writes - London's top African literary and book festival - returns in a month, and this year Alain Mabanckou headlines it. Let's just say, when I initially found out, I might have been a little too excited. Yet, if I'm honest, I'm also a little nervous. Sometimes it's difficult meeting people whose works and writing you admire. I'm going to try not to think to much about that for now. All I know is I've got my ticket and I'll most certainly be front row paying very close attention to Mabanckou as he explores language, style, politics and his journey as a writer beginning in Pointe-Noire. 

PS. If you want to find out more about Alain Mabanckou, here's a recent essay on Brittle Paper on Mabanckou himself, as well as another essay from 2016 on World Literature that takes you to the world of Alain Mabanckou and this conversation between Binyavanga Wainainan and Alain Mabanckou


SIMPLYGorgeous Sunday Chill Session with Irenosen Okojie

On Sunday June 4 2017, I will be in conversation with Ireonsen Okojie as part of SIMPLYGorgeous' first in their Sunday Chill Sessions - a series of events centred around the arts. A family owned afro hair salon, SIMPLYGorgeous  is taking inspiration from the idea of a salon as a place for discussion and learning to host these Sunday Chill Sessions. Through it, they aim to provide a space for likeminded women to convene, discuss ideas, identity and be inspired. As the Deborah Johnson - the brains behind the event explains: 
Our aim with these events is to offer women of colour a kick back offline environment to be inspired and connect. In a nutshell, it’s creating a space that I would’ve loved to already have found. A place that champions and supports arts from the experience and perspectives of women such as myself. It’s not about excluding anyone but is more about providing a platform for the talents, issues and themes that are unique to women of colour and allowing these experiences to be nurtured and supported. 
This is our first session and we hope to have them occur monthly at least and have women view SIMPLYGorgeous as a place that supports all elements of beauty. Both physically and mentally. 
I was first approached by Deborah Johnson about the salon event earlier this year, and I instantly said yes. First, I was absolutely honoured that I would be moderating the first of what sounded like a fantastic new series celebrating black women doing great things in the arts. Second, was the opportunity to be in conversation with Ireonosen Okojie - who I first met and had the pleasure of being in conversation about her debut novel, Butterfly Fish, at the 2015 Ake Festival in Nigeria. This time about her very weird and very wonderful collection of short stories, Speak Gigantular

Book Chat with Irenosen Okojie at Ake Festival 2015. Photo via Ake Arts & Book Festival
Third, was the space. I can't speak for any other type of salon, but there is certainly something about black, Caribbean and/or African hair salons. I actually didn't go to a salon until I was probably 15. Prior to that, my mum either did my hair or I got it braided (but never in a salon). Being at a salon for the first time as a teenager, I noticed that any and everything was up for discussion. The salon really is a space where individual stories about identity, beauty, modern life and more happen. 

I will be honest, I stopped going to salon's regularly in 2010 and in the last seven years I have had an on and off relationship with it. Although in the last six months, the salon and I have rediscovered ourselves, the one thing that remains constant all these years is the conversations, music, laughter, waiting, waiting, waiting and more that comes with hair salon day. So, taking part in Sunday Chill Sessions was a pretty easy decision for me to make. 

'All That Glitters' by Annie Lee

I did also ask Deborah Johnson her inspiration behind the event:

Afro hair salons are such culturally relevant spaces for black women. We go to beautify, but also such great conversations and discussions are had and I wanted to explore this further. With the Sunday Chill Sessions I’m using the salon space in the artistic sense of the word as meeting room for creative minds. 

Irenosen Okojie's Speak Gigantular is also a great collection to launch the series with, as we will be discussing black female identity and how Okojie's work challenges its traditional perceptions. This was also echoed by Deborah Johnson, who explained her feelings after reading the collection: 
I came across Irenosen’s work just over a year ago when I first picked up "Speak Gigantular". I was enthralled and excited by the nuances of her narratives in the collection. I'd never come across such  left of field work from a black female writer before and it hooked me. Mainly because I felt the “black literature” I’d previously been exposed to was always of a certain hilt. Slave related. Female characters depicted in typical ways that bored and offended me. I related to her offbeat approach and Irenosen’s voice came as a refreshing find as I think the way her work challengers typical depictions of black female identity are important. 
So if you're in or around London (or know someone who is), come chill with us this Sunday, and be part of the first of an informal and relaxed event centred on literature, the arts and more. It's 12 - 2pm and free - although donations are being accepted for Ignite Africa Library - a Nigerian charity dedicated to the creative and literary development of teenagers and young adults in Nigeria and beyond. More details can be found here.


Look at that Cover! Queer Africa 2

In 2015, MaThoko's Books - an imprint that publishes queer literature in Africa - had a call for submissions for the follow-up on its first anthology, the Lambda Literary award winning Queer Africa: New and Collected Fiction. Well, here's the cover for Queer Africa 2, and isn't it gorgeous!!!! This is one of those less words, and more images post ... purely because my words won't do it any justice. 

The cover was designed by Danielle Clough - photographer-designer-vj-embroider - who explained her process for creating the cover, and while she mentions that 'its difficult to answer' her design process as 'every piece varies from materials purpose', she writes about the role of portraits and photography for the cover design

Keeping in line with the original I have been shooting and embroidering portraits. So for this project, photography has been a strong tool in the process. 
In an article on Collosal, which focuses on Clough's work it was mentioned that the editors of Queer Africa 2, Makhosazana Xaba and Karen Martin,

... were drawn to Clough's work for the publication because of the conceptual linkage of her layered yarn to the personal narratives told in the book, which Zaba explained 'adds meaning and speaks to the zigzagging nature of our lives'.

I love the textures, the vibrant colours and how detailed the faces are. Here's the full piece.

©Danielle Clough. Source:

Some of the portraits that were embroidered for the cover.

©Danielle Clough. Source:

And a few of the individual pieces.

©Danielle Clough. Source:

©Danielle Clough. Source:

©Danielle Clough. Source:

Love it!!! Definitely check out Danielle Clough's website and her Instagram for the rest of her amazing work. If I'm not mistaken, Queer Africa 2 was meant to be published earlier this year (but would need to be double check). 

20 Short Story Collections by African Women Writers

It has taken me a while to really and truly appreciate the beauty of short stories - for the longest time I could not quite get into them, as they yanked me out of the world or a character just as I was getting into it. Nowadays, I read short stories and I marvel at how the writer has managed to tell me so much about a character, a place or a situation in such a limited time. With this new found appreciation has come a re-read of short story collections with new eyes, along with a search for new ones. Whether you've always loved short stories, or like me have come to love them - here are 20 22* collections of short stories from African women writers (although, I have thrown in a few that are either novels/novellas in short stories or contain interconnected stories)

*Update: This post has been updated since being published to include two additional collections from Flora Nwapa.

Year of the Elephant by Leila Abouzeid (translated by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea)
First published in Arabic in 1983, when published in English in 1989, Year of the Elephant was one of the first novel by a Moroccan woman to be translated from Arabic into English. Consisting of a novella and eight short stories, the title refers to a famous battle described in the Qu'ran, and the collection centres on life in the wake of Morocco's successful struggle for independence from French occupation. In the novella, the protagonist, Zahra, has just returned to her hometown after being divorced by her husband for being too traditional and unable to keep up with his modern way of life. Having devoted herself, alongside her husband, to the creation of an independent Morocco, she had expected to share the fruits of independence with him, but instead she finds herself cast out into a strange world. As Zahra struggles to find a place for herself in this new Morocco, her efforts reflect Moroccan society's attempt as a whole to chart a path in the conflict between tradition and modernism.

No Sweetness Here: And Other Stories by Ama Ata Aidoo
A collection of 11 stories, which range from the politics of wigs to the joys of motherhood. In this collection, Ama Ata Aidoo explores postcolonial life in Ghana with honesty and humour. Tradition wrestles with new urban influences as Africans try to sort out their identity in a changing culture. True to the tradition of African storytelling, the characters come to life through their distinct voices and speech. If there is no sweetness, there is the salt essential to life, even if it comes from tears, and the strength that comes from a history of endurance.

The Girl Who Can And Other Stories by Ama Ata Aidoo
In The Girl Who Can Ama Ata Aidoo looks at the roles and rules, and the games people find themselves playing, often unwillingly. Aidoo elevates the mundane in women's lives to an intellectual level in an attempt at challenging patriarchal structures and dominance in African society. Written from a child's perspective, Aidoo subverts the traditional beliefs and assumptions about the child's voice. Her inimitable sense of style and eloquence, explores love, marriage and relationships with all the issues they throw up for the contemporary African woman. In doing so, she manages to capture the very essence of womanhood.

Diplomatic Pounds & Other Stories by Ama Ata Aidoo

Diplomatic Pounds and Other Stories, is a collection of Ama Ata Aidoo’s short stories that brings together diverse themes that speak to the relationship between Africa and its Diaspora in terms of home and exile and a sense of belonging and alienation. The collection reveals the intricacies of friendships and love relationships and the complexities involved in African Diaspora connections, engaging with a sense of anomie and fragmentation that is partly a consequence of living across different cultures – African and the West and reveals her interest in presenting common human frailties.  The stories cover a broader range of people within the African Diaspora than in her previous collections, expanding in a different way on the theme of African relationships and interconnections with its Diaspora. Diplomatic Pounds chronicles how returning sons and daughters relate to a mother continent that they clearly love, but which they also take great issue with. 

Autobiography of the Lower East Side: A Novel in Stories by Rashidah Ismaili AbuBakr
Autobiography of the Lower East Side is a novel in short stories, set in New York during the late nineteen-fifties and the turbulent decade that followed. It pulsates with the heartbeat of Manhattan's Lower East Side in the 1960s, its artists and activists caught in the racial, sexual, political, and class tensions of the era. Inhale the spices from tenement hallways, smell the sweat and garbage in the streets, feel the sweltering heat of summer in the City. Taste the texture and densities of African dishes: the rice and pepper sauce, stewed fruits, tagine, okra soup, bread and fish. Walk the alphabet streets in the daytime, weaving among pushcarts, or at night in the biting winds of winter, footsteps too close at your back. Sway to the cool jazz. Groove to the lilt of African voices reciting poetry, intoning prayers. Follow a junkie riding out a Jones, an anarchist handing out pamphlets, a pacifist leading a draft resister on the Underground route from New York City to Canada. Ismaili’s richly-evoked setting presents characters learning to survive in the jazz scene, the theater, and the arts while dealing with interracial relationships, abuse, addiction, and the toll of the Vietnam draft.

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In these twelve dazzling stories, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explores the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States. Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, these stories map, with Adichie's signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them. From a medical student who hides from a violent riot with a poor Muslim woman whose dignity and faith force her to confront the realities and fears she's been pushing away. To a woman that unlocks the devastating secret that surrounds her brother's death, the stories are searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow and longing.

Lizard & Other Stories by Marcelle Mateki Akita
Follow the stories of five young characters who try to make sense of loss, sex and sexuality in Lizard & Other Stories. Marcelle Mateki Akita explores how topics such as broken family and romantic relationships, sexual violence and masturbation impact a young girl and woman’s development. The collection's short stories and flash fiction focus on girls and women of Ghanaian and mixed heritage. 

What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
The daughters, wives and mothers in Lesley Nneka Arimah's remarkable debut collection find themselves in extraordinary situations: a woman whose mother's ghost appears to have stepped out of a family snapshot, another who, exhausted by childlessness, resorts to fashioning a charmed infant out of human hair, a 'grief worker' with a miraculous ability to remove emotional pain - at a price. What unites them is the toughness of the world they inhabit, a world where the future is uncertain, opportunities are scant, and fortunes change quicker than the flick of a switch. Characterised by their vividness, immediacy and the author's seemingly endless ability to conjure worlds at once familiar and unsettlingly different, this collection showcases the work of an extraordinarily talented writer at the start of a brilliant career.

Tropical Fish by Doreen Baingana
In her fiction debut, Doreen Baingana follows a Ugandan girl as she navigates the uncertain terrain of adolescence. Set mostly in pastoral Entebbe with stops in the cities Kampala and Los Angeles, Tropical Fish depicts the reality of life for Christine Mugisha and her family after Idi Amin s dictatorship. Three of the eight chapters are told from the point of view of Christine's two older sisters, Patti, a born-again Christian who finds herself starving at her boarding school, and Rosa, a free spirit who tries to magically seduce one of her teachers. But the star of Tropical Fish is Christine, whom we accompany from her first wobbly steps in high heels, to her encounters with the first-world conveniences and alienation of America, to her return home to Uganda. 

Slipping by Lauren Beukes 
A Punk Lolita fighter-pilot rescues Tokyo from a marauding art installation. Corporate recruits harvest poisonous plants on an inhospitable planet. An inquisitive adolescent ghost disrupts the life of a young architect. Product loyalty is addictive when the brand appears under one's skin. Lauren Beukes spares no targets in this edgy and satiric retrospective collection. In her fiction and nonfiction, ranging from Johannesburg across the galaxy, Beukes is a fierce, captivating presence throughout the literary landscape.

Women of Algiers in Their Apartment by Assia Djebar (Translated by Marjolijn de Jager and Clarisse Zimra)
Assia Djebar's Women of Algiers in Their Apartment, her first work to be published in English, is a collection of three long stories, three short ones, and a theoretical postface depicting the plight of urban Algerian women. The stories criticise the post-colonial regime, for denying and subjugating women whilst celebrating men's liberation. 

Tales of Tenderness and Power by Bessie Head
This is an anthology of stories, personal observations and historic legends. It reflects the author's fascination with Africa's people and their history as well as her identification with individuals and their conflicting emotions. 

An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah
A woman in a township is surrounded by dusty children but longs for a baby of her own; an old man finds that his job making coffins at No Matter Funeral Parlour brings unexpected riches; a politician's widow stands quietly by at her husband's funeral as his colleagues bury an empty casket. Petina Gappah's characters may have ordinary hopes and dreams, but they are living in a world where a loaf of bread costs half a million dollars - a country expected to have only four presidents in a hundred years. In this spirited debut, Gappah evokes the resilience and inventiveness of the people who struggle to live under Robert Mugabe's regime whilst also battling issues common to all people everywhere: failed promises, unfulfilled dreams, and the yearning for something to anchor them to life.

Rotten Row by Petina Gappah
In Rotten Row, Petina Gappah crosses the barriers of class, race, gender and sexual politics in Zimbabwe to explore the causes and effects of crime, and to meditate on the nature of justice. With compassion and humour, Petina Gappah paints portraits of lives aching for meaning to produce a moving and universal tableau.

Go Tell the Sun by Wame Molefhe
The stories in Go Tell the Sun have a gentle, unassuming yet intimate and captivating feel to them. Set in Botswana, the stories trace the lives of characters whose paths cross and re-cross each others', some times in and through love, at other times through tragedy. And through them the author brings to bear a woman's perspective on the societal mores in which sexual abuse, homophobia and AIDS, among others, flourish and spread. The social content and views are never proclaimed as a loud agenda; instead, it forms a 'natural' backdrop to the lives of the characters, something that may raise a wry comment or thought in one character, while eliciting a mere shrug from another. Molefhe's voice is, to some extent, a world-weary voice, weary of all she has seen of society's failures, but never without the gentleness often absent and much needed in broken societies, and never without the hope and redemption that can be found in love and the imagination.

This is Lagos and Other Stories by Flora Nwapa
This dazzling collection of short stories deals with some of the universal problems shared by women around the world.

Wives at War and Other Stories by Flora Nwapa
This collection of short stories centres on women fighting heroic wars, including the Nigerian civil war, as well as women fighting other kinds of wars; Adaeze is at war with tradition which demands she stay in the village and have children for her father; Yetunde fights against racial prejudice to maintain her relationship with a white man. Ever present and dominating is the war between the sexes: Amma and Adaku try to fight hard for their rights in their marriage and affairs. The mood in the stories varies from comedy to tragedy, from satire to drama but all reveal a compassionate insight into plight of women fighting heroic wars.

Speak Gigantular by Ireonsen Okojie
A startling debut short story collection with stories that are captivating, erotic, enigmatic and disturbing. Irenosen Okojie's gift is in her understated humour, her light touch, her razor-sharp assessment of the best and worst of humankind, and her unflinching gaze into the darkest corners of the human experience. In these stories Okojie creates worlds where lovelorn aliens abduct innocent coffee shop waitresses, where the London Underground is inhabited by the ghosts of errant Londoners caught between here and the hereafter, where insensitive men cheat on their mistresses and can only muster enough interest to fall for one-dimensional poster girls and where brave young women attempt to be erotically empowered at their own peril.Sexy, serious and at times downright disturbing, this brilliant collection sizzles with originality.

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
The stories collected in What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours are linked by more than the exquisitely winding prose of their creator: Helen Oyeyemi's ensemble cast of characters slip from the pages of their own stories only to surface in another. The reader is invited into a world of lost libraries and locked gardens, of marshlands where the drowned dead live and a city where all the clocks have stopped; students hone their skills at puppet school, the Homely Wench Society commits a guerrilla book-swap, and lovers exchange books and roses on St Jordi's Day. It is a collection of towering imagination, marked by baroque beauty and a deep sensuousness.

Tender by Sofia Samatar
The first collection of short fiction from Sofia Samatar is divided into “Tender Bodies” and “Tender Landscapes”. These twenty stories travel from the commonplace to the edges of reality. Some of Samatar’s weird and compassionate fabulations spring from her life and literary studies; some spring from the world, some from the void. Tender explores the fragility of bodies, emotions, and landscapes, in settings that range from medieval Egypt to colonial Kenya to the stars, and the voices of those who question: children, students, servants, researchers, writers.

As The Crow Flies by Vernoique Tadjo
The narrative of this wonderful gem of a book weaves together a rich tapestry of characters who are both nameless and faceless, representing everyman and everywoman, to tell stories of parting and return, suffering, healing and desire in a lyrical and moving exploration of the human heart. Like a bird in flight, the reader travels across a borderless landscape composed of tales of daily existence, news reports, allegories and ancestral myths, becoming aware in the course of the journey of the interconnection of individual lives.

Why Don’t You Carve Other Animals by Yvonne Vera
The place is the white-ruled Rhodesia of the seventies (now Zimbabwe), the exile the African in his own land. Young men and women flee their villages to join the freedom fighters in the forests. These stories, set during the years of the armed struggle, tell of the other struggle, that of survival of those who stayed behind. Yvonne Vera, born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, tells her stories from a woman's point of view, in lyrical but unaffected prose, recreating the dark atmosphere of those months full of fear and hope.

*Blurbs via Amazon or Goodreads.

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