Christmas Lists

It’s that time of year when I feel compelled to compile lists. Here are some books on Africa that I have (or should have) read this year.

  • What is the WhatWhat is the What, Dave Eggers: Probably the best book I’ve read on Sudan – fiction or nonfiction. Deals with the complexities of the civil war in an elegant yet comprehensive way, and should also be required reading for anyone trying to get to grips with Darfur
  • The Constant Gardener, John Le Carré: Stiff upper lipped Brit diplomats and their hippy wives tend their neat gardens in Nairobi … the clichés are packed like sardines into a deeply tedious book
  • All of These PeopleAll of These People, Fergal Keane: No doubt about it, the guy can write. It’s a personal memoir but from the chapters on Africa it’s pretty clear he understands the place. The only flaw is that although he bangs on about his battle with alcoholism, his entire drink problem seems to consist of a couple of nights when he stayed up late watching TV with a few beers
  • The State of Africa, Martin Meredith: I think I’ve had this book for two years now and all I can say is that the cover looks very nice
  • The Shadow of the Sun, Ryszard Kapuscinski: Moments of brilliance and a great opening line: “More than anything, one is struck by the light. Light everywhere. Brightness everywhere. Everywhere the sun.” Written on his arrival in Ghana in 1958
  • Geldof in Africa, Bob Geldof: Turns out to be a better writer than I thought he’d be. “The first thing you notice is the light. Light everywhere. Brightness everywhere.”
  • Flashman on the MarchFlashman on the March, George Macdonald Fraser: A journalist friend of a friend claims to do no more preparation for a trip to Africa than read the relevant Flashman book. Quite what he would have made of Ethiopia after this tale is anyone’s guess

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