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Ahmadou Kourouma
Boundiali, French West Africa, 24 Nov. 1927 - Lyon 11 Dec. 2003 • Ivorian novelist

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Journey to the End of the Night
Louis-Ferdinand Céline, 1932
'I thought in Malinké and wrote in French while taking feedoms which I consider to be natural with the traditional language… I thus translated Malinké into French by breaking down the French language to find and restore the African rhythm.'
- Ahmadou Kourouma

The Palm-wine Drinkard
Amos Tutuola, 1952
'Tutola, Okara and Kourouma are writing first and foremost for their African audience. They sought a compromise between their adopted former colonial languages and their own traditional cultures. They deconstructed these foreign languages to make their own cultural traditions visible.'
- Tomi Adeaga, 2008

Midnight's Children
Salman Rushdie, 1981
Rushdie, too, plays a lively language game: in his case, 'Indian English' (see his essay 'Imaginary Homelands).

the oral tradition
his father's father's father..., from way back when...
'I often refer to the oral traditions, to tales and legends, in my writing.'
- Ahmadou Kourouma


Allah is Not Obliged
This fourth and final novel by the acclaimed Ivoirian (1927 - 2003) combines an invented child-soldier's story with that of a gallery of real warlords.

Voltaire, 1759
Young Candide is tossed on a hilarious tide of misfortune, experiencing the full horror and injustice of this 'best of all possible worlds' - the Old and the New - before finally accepting that his old philosophy tutor Dr Pangloss has got it all wrong.

Jacques the Fatalist and his Master
Denis Diderot, 1796
Riding through France with his master, the servant Jacques appears to act as though he is truly free in a world of dizzying variety and unpredictability.

The Tin Drum
Günter Grass, 1959
Hitler's rise and fall is seen through the eyes of the dwarfish narrator whose magic powers are symbolic of the grave forces dominating the German troops of that period.

The Adventures of Augie March
Saul Bellow, 1953
Fictional autobiography of a rumbustious adventurer and poker-player who sets off from his native Chicago in the spirit of a latter-day Columbus to rediscover the world - and more - especially, 20th century America.

Lazarillo de Tormes
Anonymous, 1554
The first picaresque novel, and one of the gems of Spanish literature. A brief, simply told tale of a rogue’s adventures and misadventures - full of laconic cynicism and spiced with puns and wordplay.

A Long Way Gone
Ishmael Beah, 2007
The first-person account of a 26-year-old who fought in the war in Sierra Leone as a 12-year-old boy.

What is the What?
Dave Eggers, 2006
Valentino Achak Deng is just a boy when conflict separates him from his family and forces him to leave his small Sudanese village, joining thousands of other orphans on their long, long walk to Ethiopia, where they find safety - for a time.

Lord of the Flies
William Golding, 1954
After surviving a plane crash, a group of boys set up a fragile community on a previously uninhabited island. As memories of home recede and the blood from frenzied pig-hunts arouses them, the boys' childish fear turns into something deeper and more primitive.

Beasts of No Nation
Uzodinma Iweala, 2005
Iweala's début follows the fortunes of Agu, a child soldier fighting in the civil war of an unnamed African country.

Johnny Mad Dog
Emmanuel Dongala, 2002
Two teenagers are caught up in the melee as rival ethnic factions turn their Congolese city into a bloody battleground.

Things Fall Apart
Chinua Achebe, 1958
Portrait of life in a Nigerian village before and after the coming of colonialism.

Jagua Nana
Cyprian Ekwensi, 1961
A warm-hearted prostitute in Lagos wants desperately to marry into the educated elite.

God's Bits of Wood
Ousmane Sembène, 1960
A fictionalized account of the Dakar-Niger train strikes, which took place in the 1940s.

[Chants d’ombre]
Léopold Sédar Senghor, 1945
First boek of poems by the Senegalese author, philosopher, and politician.

Purple Hibiscus
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2003
When Nigeria begins to fall apart during a military coup, a young girl's father, involved mysteriously in the political crisis, sends her and her brother away to live with their aunt.

The Suns of Independence
The last of the Dumbuya princes who had reigned over the Malinke tribe before the European conquest, Fama seeks a place for himself within the new hierarchy of bureaucrats and border guards.
Tells the story of Dijgui Keita, king of fictional soba. Certain of the power of his ancestral magic, Keita declines to raise his village before the oncoming colonial troops, initiating the fateful politics of conciliation, compromise, and betrayal that still provides today's post-Colonial Africa.
Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote
The life story of President Koyaga, the dictator of the (fictional) République du Golfe, as told to him by his court storyteller Bingo.
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