On May 7, Ellah Wakatama gave a lecture titled “We Have New Names” at Stanford University’s Center for African Studies. Wakatama is Editor-at-Large at Canongate and chair of the Ako Caine Prize for African Writing. The title of her lecture is a riff on NoViolet Bulawayo’s 2013 debut novel titled We Need New Names. In the lecture, Wakatama talks about the transformations in contemporary African literary culture, how writers are moving away from rigid ideas about literary artistry to explore different genres and ideas. In making the case that there is something different and exciting about how African authors are writing today, Wakatama refers to a whole lot of books. Brenda Mutuma, Program Coordinator at the Center for African Studies, was kind enough to collect the books mentioned in a list. We hope the list gives you a sense of how vibrant the Africa literary scene currently is and informs your decision on what book to read next.
The list is not arranged in any particular order. The blurbs are excerpts of the publisher’s description of the book.