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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

I Absolutely Love Bookstores: London Review Bookshop

Whenever I walk by a bookstore I have to go in. So I might have a problem, but I cannot help myself. One thing I've started doing everytime I go into a bookstore is to see what goodies they have in terms of African literature. The other day I was in one of my absolute favourite bookstores in London, The London Review Bookshop - an independent bookshop and a cafe owned by the the London Review of Books. It was nice to see that they had a selection of books written by Africans.  What I loved about the London Review Bookshop was that there was no dedicated "African Literature" section. Instead, books were placed alongside other titles. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against sections (African, African-American, Asian, Mystery, Crime) in bookshops. Sometimes it's nice and easy to walk into a bookshop and beeline straight to a particular section to search for books I want. But it was still nice to see works by African authors side by side with other authors. 

I first noticed a row of J M Coetzee novels as well as a couple of novels by Nadine Gordimer and I thought that's pretty standard. As I looked around, I began to wonder, what else was in store. So I spotted Helon Habila's Oil on Water as well as Bessie Head's A Question of Power and that got me really excited. It turned into a fun game for me as I looked through the shelves wondering what else I would find. I also spotted Ahmadou Korouma's Allah is Not Obliged, as well as three of Alain Mabanckou's translated novels (Broken Glass was absent), Naguib Mahfouz's The Cairo Trilogy, Andre Brink's new novel Philida next to two books I've been dying to read (NW by Zadie Smith and The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling) and Teju Cole's Open City. I also saw a couple of anthologies - African Violet and the Penguin Anthology Gods and Soldiers


 

I wasn't going to buy anything, but on my way out I spotted Amos Tutuola's The Palm-Wine Drinkard. I've been wanting to read it for the longest time and I couldn't resist. This copy also came with My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. How could I say no to 2-in-1? 


Since I discovered it a few years ago, the London Review Bookshop has become one of my favourite bookshop/cafe in London. The added bonus for me is that it's not too far from my university. So once in a while I get to pop in have a hot chocolate and stare at the wonderful collection of books they have. Now I know they have gems of African literature tucked in different shelves all over the store, I love the place even more. 

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