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A drawing of the Africa Continent made of Books An illustration of a woman reading a book in her house with the africa continent being made by books in her library
Illustration by Vanessa Toye

The Notable African Books of 2019

Do Not Say It’s Not Your Country

Nnamdi Oguike

Fiction

March 1, 2019 | 256 pages

Nnamdi Ogwuike channels Uwem Akpan’s Say You Are One of Them in this ambitious collection of 10 stories set in various African countries. From a Madagascan slum story to a Sierra Leonian love story, the collection captures the myriad worlds that give the African continent its distinct cultural shape.

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The Water Dancer

Ta Nehisi Coates

Fiction

September 24, 2019 | 416 pages

With his new book, Ta-Nehisi Coates takes a break from non-fiction and ventures into the world of fiction. The Water Dancer is speculative historical fiction centered on Hiram, a slave who has unnaturally acute memory and the ability to travel from one place to another in an instant.

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Your Body Is War

Mahtem Shiferraw

Poetry

March 1, 2019 | 90 pages

Mahtem Shiferraw is an Ethiopian-Eritrean writer and visual artist. In this stunning collection, war is a metaphor for all the ways in which women’s bodies are exposed to violence. A deeply honest look at the female body placed in the context of violence but also a hopeful ode to survival and resistance.

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When the Plums Are Ripe

Patrick Nganang and Amy B. Reid (Trans)

Fiction

August 13, 2019 | 368 pages

Originally published in 2013, Nganang’s 7th book is one of the most anticipated translations of the year. In his signature evocative prose, Nganang tells the story of poet-bureaucrat Pouka who is caught between the forces of French colonization and WWII. A historical drama, it brings 1940s Yaounde to life.

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Triangulum

Masande Ntshanga

Fiction

May 14, 2019 | 367 pages

Masande Ntshanga’s Triangulum is a suspenseful dose of futuristic, apocalyptic, and philosophical goodness. Set in 2040, the story is centered on a manuscript that foretells the end of the world. A retired professor and science fiction writer is called upon to look into these claims.

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Travelers

Helon Habila

Fiction

June 18, 2019 | 288 pages

Habila’s first book to be set outside Nigeria. Through the eyes of a keenly observant (unnamed) narrator, the novel reveals the many ways that Africans in Europe are excluded, while honoring their struggle to make space for a dignified existence.

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