…is some quiet time to read my ever growing pile of must-reads! Sound familiar? I don’t know about you but I have been crazy busy of late and with Christmas just around the corner I am looking forward to some much needed downtime where I ensconce myself in the sofa with a glass of red or Baileys (it’s Christmas after all) and a few good books. But until that moment comes let me hopefully inspire you with my top five just reads, must-reads, have read before but really should again, which you might like to enlighten yourself with or get for someone as Christmas pressie.
1. When you want to pretend it’s a long hot summer. Mortal Sins by Penn Williamson does just that and then some. Picture the scene: 1920s New Orleans, the brutal murder of the philandering city attorney, a femme fatale, family secrets aplenty and a hard-drinking, hard-gambling detective trying to get to the bottom of it all. Perfect escapism, with some twists, turns and thrills.
2. When you want you get your African political groove on. Chinua Achebe’s long awaited memoir There Was a Country, which I am currently reading and My First Coup d’Etat by John Dramani Mahama, Ghana’s president elect (unless the NPP can prove otherwise). Both have very positive reviews, and I can wholeheartedly vouch for There Was a Country from what I have read so far. Chinua Achebe’s narrative is as you can expect exquisite, painfully honest and really very engaging as it explores the whys and wherefores of the Nigerian Civil / Biafran War. My First Coup d’Etat chronicles John Dramani Mahama’s childhood during the turbulent post-independence days of Ghana. (Really unsubtle hint: If anyone is wondering what to get me for Christmas, this would be it)
3. When you feel like having a feminist rant. In fairness, there are several books that fit neatly under this banner, but one I read over the summer is Honour by Elif Shafak which explores so-called ‘honour’ killing within a Kurdish family living in the UK. The novels flashes back and forth between the various characters’ pasts and present , which was at first confusing as the style of narrative also changes but as you get used to it, a complex tale of love, betrayal, fate with a dollop of cultures-clashing emerges.
4. When you want to reconnect with your childhood / literary heritage. When I was young my mum would always allude to one Kwaku Anansi and so the tales would begin of the mischievous spider who would always get his comeuppance in the end. I recently bought one of several versions of Anansi stories for my friend to read to her daughter (hopefully she is not reading this – it’s meant to be a surprise. If so, my bad girl!), and I thought I really must re-aquaint myself with these stories again as they really are a gem! So another one for the to-read pile!
5. One you might want to pre-order for next year. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s long-awaited third novel (I’m sure not just by me!), Americanah. To paraphrase the promo blurb: A powerful story of love, race and identity set in today’s globalised world. Two teenagers fall in love as Nigeria is under military dictatorship and people are fleeing the country where they can. Separated, they experience loss, defeat, ignominy in their respective new lives in the US and London until several years later when there is a chance for them to reconnect. Will they? Won’t they? Will it be ok? I can’t wait! April 2013 people!!
Furthermore, it would appear that 2013 is set to be Adichie’s year as the film adaptation of her novel Half of a Yellow Sun is also due to be released next year. Good times!
If I don’t manage to squeeze in another post before the end of 2012, have a fabulous Christmas and New Year and I’ll be back in 2013 with a full review of There Was a Country, and some more Just Reads!