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Mariama BĪ

So Long a Letter

Winner of the Noma Prize at the 1980 Frankfurt Book Fair

An intense and poised novel in the form of a letter written by Ramatoulaye, who has recently been widowed. The letter, addressed to her old friend Aissatou, is a record of her emotional survival after her husband's abrupt decision to take a second wife. His choice is Binetou, the best friend of their young daughter.

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The Sympathetic Undertaker and Other Dreams

Writer Biyi Bandele-Thomas, one of Britain's hottest young literary talents,doesn't pull any punches when he writes about the institutionalized brutality of his Nigerian homeland. But when he writes about the "politics of violence" a deft mixture of satire and poetic fantasy gradually introduces the unwary to the full horrors inflicted by the military, the police, and the politicians. Told in a series of flashbacks depicting two brothers' reflections on their lives together, this novel is a tragi-comedy--hugely entertaining but ultimately a nightmare.

"Biyi is a play-wright with a barmy Beckettian vision, a poet and a magnificent novelist... He writes with an old man's wisdom. Yet Biyi, one of Nigeria's greatest voices, is only 24. His talent isn't precocious. It is masterly." -- City Limits

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The Man Who Came in from the Back of Beyond

"...this is very much a story of Africa: exotic, sprawling, overcrowded and bizarre."

-- The Observer

The relationship between a student and a literary teacher provides the framework for this clever novel-within-a-novel. A teacher, Maude, is enamored of a girl in a bar. He writes the story of her former boyfriend, and Maude's student is the first person to read the novel. Capturing modern Nigeria with its decaying standards, militarism, and poverty, Bandele-Thomas's prose also yearns on every page for something good and worth holding onto in society.

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Mongo BETI

Mission to Kala

Translated by Peter Green, Prix Saint-Beuve

Medza is sent off to retrieve a villager's wife who has run off with a man from another tribe. Amongst his best appreciated and funniest novels.

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The Poor Christ of Bomba

Translated by Gerald Moore

In Bomba the girls who are being prepared for Christian marriage live together in the women's camp. Gradually it becomes apparent that the local church men have been using the local girls for their own purposes.

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Edited by Ulli Beier

The Origin of Life and Death

Ulli Beier has collected and, where necessary, translated into English creation myths from West, East, Central, and North Africa.

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Calixthe BEYALA

Calixthe Beyala was born in Cameroon in 1961. Now living in Paris, she has already published four novels in France and is regarded as one of the most promising young francophone writers of today. Mother of two children, her great passions are Africa and fighting for women's freedom.

The Sun Hath Looked Upon Me

Translated by Marjolijn de Jaeger

Set in the grim world of urban prostitution, this book gives voice to the multitude of women trapped in African ghettos. Ateba is quiet and unassuming, taking care of her aunt's needs. But she craves the mother who abandoned her, and creates imaginary women to talk to. Then her world is shaker: Jean, the lodger forces a relationship on her; and old neighborhood prositute dies; and her best friend is killed by a botched abortion. Caught between traditional values, male demands, and the need to survive, Ateba seeks to end the tyranny of men, whom she holds responsible for this suffering.

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The Little Prince of Belleville

Belleville is the African immigrant quarter of Paris, where seven year-old Loukoum lives with his family. While his father spends time having affairs and drinking in the cafe with fellow Africans, his father's two wives look after the children at home.

Loukoum becomes the recorder of the changes that gradually impinge on his family. The problems of racism, the hypocrisy of adult sexual relationships, and the influence French society has on African traditions are all innocently and uncomprehendingly denoted by the youngster. It is, however, the discovery that his real mother is a prostitute that sets Loukoum on a journey of greater awareness.

The author deftly uses comic interludes to illustrate the pathos of the immigrant situation, but also to underline one's capacity for survival.

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Steve Bantu Biko

Steve Biko was one of the foremost figures in South Africa's struggle for liberation from the apartheid regime. Murdered by the police when he was only 30, he had already established him self as a n important leader through his work as a political activist and his analysis on Black Consciousness.

I Write What I Like

first published in 1978

I Write What I Like is a collection of Biko's lectures, articles, letters, and trial testimonies that was smuggled out of South Africa after Biko's murder. This 1996 edition was published to coincide with 50th anniversary of Steve Biko's birth. This edition includes a preface by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who states, "It is good that there is this new edition to enable us to savour the inspired words of Steve Biko- perhaps it could just spark a Black renaissance.

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W.P.B. Botha

Now living in the UK and teaching in London, W. P. B. Botha was born in South Africa of Afrikaner working class background. He was educated there, but was forced to leave after refusing to do military service.


"You will become part of village life, which mean they will become responsible for you, but also that you will be responsible for them. That is what we understand by the word wantok."

Working in the development program in the Pacific region, Richard Green finds himself increasingly embroiled in local feuds. His idealistic notion of helping the islanders disintegrates as his neo-colonial role becomes apparent. Instead, he is taken back to memories of his early--and devastating--years in colonial Kenya, bringing a dawning realization that he can never truly be wantok.

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The Reluctant Playwright

A disenchanted cynic, Doyle believes his father repudiated his origins to become part of the "Protestant ascendancy" in South Africa. Now he doesn't want to take sides, get involved. He yearns to be part of the audience and not -- as he is forced to become -- a writer of the script.

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Charlotte BRUNER

Charlotte Bruner is Emeritus Professor of Literature at the University of Iowa. She has been involved in compiling many books and was the Africa Editor of the Feminist Companion to English Literature. She produced a weekly radio series "First Person Feminine" for over six years in the U.S.

Unwinding Threads

This popular anthology contains short stories and extracts from novels by women all over Africa. The pioneer West Africans write to arouse national pride for their countries' independence. Southern African activists raise their voices against political and economic repression and racism. Northern African women seek to lift their veils to emerge from the enforced domesticity and female servitude. The experience, the goal, the language, the audience, differ from one writer to another. However, all their works affirm, as Doris Lessing wrote: "that filter which is a woman's way of looking at life has the same validity as that filter which is a man's way."

Contributors: Mabel Dove Danquah; Adelaide Casely-Hayford; Efua Sutherland; Ama Ata Aidoo; Mariama Ba; Flora Nwapa; Buchi Emecheta; Martha Mvungi; Barbara Kimenye; Charity Waciuma; Hazel Mugot; Grace Ogot; Olive Schreiner; Doris Lessing; Nadine Gordimer; Miriam Tlali; Amelia House; Bessie Head; Fadhma Amrouche; Marguerite Amrouche; Assia Djebar; Alifa Rifaat; Latifa el-Zayat; Andree Chedid.

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The Heinemann Book of African Women's Writing

A contemporary selection of 22 African women's short stories that vividly portray the everyday concerns of women's lives. The stories, divided into sections from north, south, east and west, cover such themes as the exploitation of serving girls, the experience of women behind veils, enduring friendships, the achievement of social power, independence of thought, and the affirmation of personal identity. These are new writers recording the new Africa with a fresh perspective.

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