Our experts have chosen the best African novels, fiction and literature as well as African history and works on leading African figures. Some African book recommendation lists are country specific and some based on the continent.
We have thought provoking African non-fiction recommendations, including on history and Africa economics. African literature is increasingly getting the acclaim it deserves. If you are new to African Literature start with The Best Books on Nigeria.
Elsewhere, Cambridge academic, Toby Wilkinson chooses his best books on ancient Egypt and Humphrey Davis chooses his best book of contemporary Egyptian literature. Journalist Philip Gourevitch choooses his best books on the Rwandan Genocide. For African science fiction Rosewater was one of our best Sci Fi books of 2019.
Golden Trade of the Moors: West African Kingdoms in the Fourteenth Century
by E.W. Bovill
Ancient Ghana and Mali
by Nehemiah Levtzion
Social History of Timbuktu: The Role of Muslim Scholars and Notables 1400-1900
by Elias Saad
Sunjata: A West African Epic of the Mande Peoples
by David C. Conrad
Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire: Al-Sa'di's Ta'rikh Al-Sudan down to 1613 and Other Contemporary Documents
by John Hunwick
Long before the Europeans arrived in the 16th and 17th centuries, sub-Saharan West Africa saw the emergence of a series of African empires that lasted for centuries and stretched over vast swathes of the continent. They were known as the Ghana, Mali and Songhai Empires. Here, historian Michael Gomez discusses what led to their greatness, what sustained them and why they fell.
Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt
by Jan Assmann
Visual and written culture in ancient Egypt
by John Baines
The Chapel of Ptahhotep
by Paolo J. Scremin & Yvonne M. Harpur
Village Life in Ancient Egypt
by Andrea McDowell
The Tale of Sinuhe and other ancient Egyptian poems
by Richard Parkinson
Long-time foreign correspondent Michaela Wrong, the author of books on Zaire, Eritrea, Kenya and Rwanda, tells us where to turn for engaging foreign perspectives on Africa. She recommends five of her favourite books on Africa, by anthropologists, journalists and one US president.
Nelson Mandela was a most unusual and unusually astute leader, says journalist and author of Playing the Enemy, John Carlin. He chooses the best books to understand Nelson Mandela, who used forgiveness as a political tool, and South Africa, the country he brought peacefully out of apartheid.
The award-winning South African writer Kevin Bloom discusses five books that bring light to post-apartheid South Africa with focus on the predicament of the white South African. Do whites ‘deserve’ to feel at home in their country?
‘Wherever you go today in the Congo, you will find monstrous warlords. But you will find far more volunteer nurses and Red Cross workers and teachers who haven’t been paid for 20 years but are still doing their job, not allowing things to fall apart.’
Via five engrossing memoirs, the Zimbabwe-born journalist Georgina Godwin talks wistfully about her country; amongst the older generation, she says, there is a feeling that Rhodesia was sold down the river by Britain and things needn’t have turned out the way they did.