5 bestselling African books Kenyans can’t afford to put down – Lifestyle – kenyagist

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5 bestselling African books Kenyans can't afford to put down – Lifestyle – Pulselive.co.ke

 

  • The literature industry in Africa for decades has been compared with a sleeping giant because despite boosting of literary giants, African pieces of work were incredibly hard to find and if any they were few and far between.
  • A small
    Kenyan bookstore is, however, determined to change this narrative and give
    African authors an equal playing field to compete with the rest of the world.
  • The Magunga
    Bookstore
    , an online store based in Nairobi is
    going out of its way to exclusively stock pieces of work by African authors and
    ensure African novels are equally read and celebrated as much if not more than
    the western authors.

The literature industry in Africa for decades has been compared with a sleeping giant because despite boosting of literary giants and award winning authors such as Chimamanda Adichie, Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiong’o to mention but just a few, African pieces of work were incredibly hard to find and if any they were few and far between.

As a
result, thousands of great African authors, despite having produced
masterpieces, lived miserable lives
and died as paupers as their award winning
books continued to gather dust and were confined to their tiny villages and
countries.


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Chimamanda Adichie at a past book signing event. (Saint Heron)

 

A small
Kenyan bookstore is, however, determined to change this narrative and give
African authors an equal playing field to compete with the rest of the world by
giving them the much needed publicity.

“African
books are the ones that need help in being sold. Everyone else is coming from a
much larger market. It’s easier to find an American book in an African
bookstore than it is to find a Kenyan book in a Kenyan one. That’s ridiculous,”
Abigail Arunga, Magunga Bookstore Operations Manager told
Business Insider SSA.


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The Maguga Bookstore (the Magunga)

 

The Magunga
Bookstore
, theatre of stories untold, is an online store based in Nairobi is
going out of its way to exclusively stock pieces of work by African authors and
ensure African novels are equally read and celebrated as much if not more than
the western authors.

“African literature is quite literally lit, so successes
don’t surprise me. People just need to be introduced to the contemporary titles.”

So while you mull over that, here are five best selling
African novels according to Magunga’s orders that Kenyans are hooked on and
can’t put down.

5. Things I will tell my daughter/I’m too pretty to be broke
by Joan Thatiah


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Things I will tell my daughter by Joan Thatiah book cover (Facebook)

 

“I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I started reading
it with a negative attitude for some reason (classic case of judging a book by
its cover-because of the title, I expected a rip-off of Maya Angelou’s Letter
to my daughter), but page by page, my attitude shifted.

Joan is very original and authentic. It’s the raw truth of
Joan’s words, the experiences you can relate to, the radicalism and
revolutionary way in which she thinks that got to me.

Every mother should read this book,” One review about the
novel reads.


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I’m too pretty to be broke and Other Lies You’ve Been Telling Yourself book cover. (Facebook)

 

Through a
blend of personal narrative, social history and hard-eyed wisdom, Joan Thatiah
delves into life lessons she has lived and learnt.  Into the big things,
the small things and the things that today’s young woman never imagines that
she will have to deal with.

Her other
novel ‘I’m too pretty to be broke and Other Lies You’ve Been Telling Yourself’
is also selling like hotcake and you need to place your order ASAP.

Joan
Thatiah is a novelist, a creative writer and a journalist.

4. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin


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The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives book cover. (Magunga Bookstore)

 

Released
in 2010, the Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by African-born poet Lola
Shoneyin is one of those books that you read with a smile on your face. It’s
full of gloriously unsavoury characters caught in a terrible web of deceit.

It is no
wonder Kenyans can’t get enough of it.

Also read: 5 LITTLE KNOWN BUT TALENTED KENYA AUTHORS TO WATCH OUT FOR

3. Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani     


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Peter Kimani  poses for a photo with media students from Aga Khan University besides a banner of his book, dance of the Jakaranda. (Aga Khan University)

  

Set in
the shadow of Kenya’s independence from Great Britain, Dance of the Jakaranda
reimagines the special circumstances that brought black, brown, and white men
together to lay the railroad that heralded the birth of the nation.

“Kimani has done a game job managing the carpentry of
this ambitious novel, bringing great skill to the task of deploying multiple
storylines, huge leaps back and forth in time and the withholding and
distribution of information…Once Kimani has his plotlines all set, his writing
relaxes, and it’s here that you can see his raw talent…I have never read a
novel about [Kenya] that’s so funny, so perceptive, so subversive and so sly.”
New York Times Book review reads.

2. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi


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FRESHWATER by Akwaeke Emezi (vox)

 

This
extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater, explores the surreal experience of
having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who
develops separate selves within her as a result of being born “with one
foot on the other side.”

Unsettling, heartwrenching, dark, and
powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the
world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities.

Also read: Mdundo CEO opens up on the business of putting African music on the global map

1. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah


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Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (Magunga Bookstore)

 

Trevor
Noah’s unlikely path from the slums of South Africa to the bright lights of New
York City, more so hosting The Daily Show, one of the most popular shows in the
world began with a criminal act: his birth.

Born a
Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young
man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to
exist.


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Trevor Noah on set during a taping of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” (Quartz)

 

It is
also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious,
and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son
from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten
her own life.

Early
this year it was announced that the book will be turned into a movie with
Kenya’s very own Lupita Nyong’o starring in the movie as Patricia Noah, the
mother of Trevor Noah.

Of course
as the case of movie adaption of books, the book always carry the day but then
again I could be wrong so let’s wait for the movie and see.


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