Africa

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All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu

It is very clear why so many awards have been bestowed upon this writer. This beautiful, heartbreaking novel is two love stories starring the same character, continents apart. Alternating between war-torn Uganda during the revolutions in the 1970s and the American Midwest which was undergoing its own cultural revolutions at the same time, “Isaac” is a lover, a student, and a truly remarkable man. This haunting work evokes a strong sense of place in both worlds. There is bound to be something familiar and something new for every reader of this work.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Set against the Nigerian conflict of 1967-1970 Adichie blends political drama and relationships. Tribal loyalties, British colonialism and that universal emotion : love are explored. Thirteen-year-old Ugwu is employed as a houseboy for a university professor. Olanna is the professor’s privileged beautiful mistress and Richard is a young Englishman in love with the country and Olanna’s twin sister. These characters will be tested by family loyalities and personal decisions intertwined with  themes of class, race and war-time survival .

The Lower River by Paul Theroux

Ellis Hock bids adieu to his failing clothing store, bitter wife and avaricious daughter and returns to Malabo, Malawi where he served as a Peace Corps volunteer almost 40 years ago. But a place of hope and nostalgia and usefulness has deteriorated to one of corruption, deep distrust and danger. Ellis not only has nothing to do but is slowly consumed by the people he once loved until he discovers that there is a price on his head. Snakes play a major—if understated—role in this provocative tale. Theroux is a master story teller with the travel writer’s exquisite eye for detail.

What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng: A Novel by Dave Eggers

When 7-year-old Valentino Achak Deng, a Dinka living in southern Sudan, is forced to leave his village, his harrowing journey takes him through three countries, terrifying encounters with Arab militias, government bombers, wild animals and some of sub-Saharan Africa’s most challenging terrain. One of the so-called Lost Boys of Sudan, Valentino stands as an extraordinary example of a story that is equal parts bleak, lyrical, humorous and tragic.

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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