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Favourite Reads of 2011: Henrietta Rose-Innes, Zukiswa Wanner and Others Divulge

A. Igoni Barrett

A Igoni Barrett, Books LIVE friend and author of From Caves of Rotten Teeth, has taken the, by now ubiquitous, Best Books of 2011 list and adapted it – ala Lauren Beukes‘ recommended reading guides (see here and here) – to create something rather more exciting than the average list.

Barrett asked several writers, editors and industry professionals to reveal some of the books they enjoyed most this year. The first chapter in this three-part article was published in the Guardian Nigeria on Saturday and includes, among its contributors, Books LIVE members Henrietta Rose-Innes and Zukiswa Wanner.

The second installment will be published in the Guardian Nigeria on Christmas day, followed by part three in The Millions on 29 December. Don’t miss the full twenty-eight contributions!

Nnedi OkoraforHabibiHenrietta Rose-InnesThe Granta Book of the African Short StoryThe Loss LibraryReturn of the MoonIkhideo R IkheloaBlackbirdOpen CityOne Day I Will Write About This PlaceTiny Sunbirds, Far AwayMaggie GeeLaraTade IpadeolaAn Infinite Longing for LoveIt's Our Turn to EatMaaza MengisteOne Day I Will Write About This PlaceMargaret BusbyTo See the Mountain and Other StoriesUzor Maxim UzoatuTime to Reclaim NigeriaBlonde Roots

Simidele DosekunThe Memory of LoveMayowa and the MasqueradesZukiswa WannerWaiting for the Wild Beasts to VoteI Do Not Come to You by ChanceVictor Ehikhamenor in A Good Mood!A Squatter's TaleLaura PegramOn Black Sisters' StreetFaith AdieleThe WordDreams in a Time of WarWizard of the Crow

Nnedi Okorafor, author of Who Fears Death, winner of a 2011 World Fantasy Award / Habibi (Pantheon, 2011) by Craig Thompson is easily the best book I’ve read this year. It is a graphic novel that combines several art forms at once. There is lush Arabic calligraphy that meshes with unflinching narrative that bleeds into religious folklore that remembers vivid imagery. Every page is detailed art. The main characters are an African man and an Arab woman, and both are slaves. Also, the story is simultaneously modern and ancient and this is reflected in the setting. There are harems, eunuchs, skyscrapers, pollution. I can gush on and on about this book and still not do it justice.

Henrietta Rose-Innes, author of Nineveh / Edited by Helon Habila, The Granta Book of the African Short Story (Granta, 2011) is a satisfyingly chunky volume of 29 stories by some of the continent’s most dynamic writers, both new and established. The always excellent Ivan Vladislavic’s recent collection, The Loss Library (Umuzi, 2011), about unfinished / unfinishable writing, offers a series of brilliant meditations on the act of writing—or failing to write. And recently I’ve been rereading Return of the moon: Versions from the /Xam (Carrefour Press, 1991) by the poet Stephen Watson, who tragically passed away earlier this year. I love these haunting interpretations of stories and testimonies from the vanished world of /Xam-speaking hunter-gatherers.

Book details

Photos courtesy xokigbo, Johnny Laird, British Council, African Women Writers Network, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Commonwealth Writers, The New Gong, King’s College London, kleopatrjones on Flickr, Kweli Journal, and The Secular Buddhist.


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