I was recently invited by Nana Fredua Agyeman of the blog Image Nations to participate in the Reader’s Top ten series. Keep reading for my contribution. I reblog Nana ‘s post below.
Book blogging has introduced me to several individuals I would not otherwise have met, either in person or in this virtual world. One of these individuals is Ndeye Sene Mbaye who blogs at Under the Neem Tree. As a bilingualist, Ndeye’s blog has several interesting reviews including books which have not yet been translated from French.
About Ndeye: Ndeye Sene Mbaye
is a Senegalese banker, blogger, fashion-lover, a fanatic of economics & development, politics, global affairs and whatever pertains to black people in general. She lives and works in the bilingual city of Montreal, Canada. Follow her on Twitter: @ndeyesene and follow her blog about African Literature @undertheneemtre
Below is Ndeye’s selection of books. Note that I have linked the titles and authors to posts within ImageNations, where available. My views and his might not be the same and so beware when reading and judging them.
Choosing 10 books, out of the hundreds I have read so far, turned out to be much more difficult than I had anticipated. Since I love numbers my first thought was that I should do this by scientific methods. But then, I decided on a much more easy way. I stayed in front of my bookshelf (yes I purchase almost all my books ) and list the first ten books that came to my mind. The thinking behind this is quite simple, if I remember a book quickly enough it means it must have been very good. Simple, right?
That is how I came up with my top ten books, which is a mix of new and old, French and English. I love biographies very much, but I have decided not to include them this time to keep things simpler.
I could write pages and pages of why I love this book. If I had to choose one thing though, I would say, Odenigbo the revolutionary, not as a person but his ideas. See, everyone is talking about pan Africanism and unity, but he has a very interesting point of view on that question. He said he is not Nigerian but very much Igbo, and that, it was the British Empire who created Nigeria. Why should he deny his tribal identity to satisfy a country that was not created by him? Also, Ms Adichie’s storytelling talent is undeniable. I love all her books but this one is my favorite. My second best would be Americanah.
Mariama Ba manages to capture in less than 200 pages, the dysfunctions of Senegalese society without frills and unnecessary drama. She did it in the 1970s while living in a very traditional society. She is not only very courageous, but she manages to do something even more important. Her book is the one of the rare novel which achieves continent-wide reach. Indeed, it is fair to say that every pupil – who went to school in Africa – has read this book, sometimes in secondary school. It’s very unfortunate that she is not here today to witness her extraordinary achievement.
I love all the three books of the African Trilogy but No Longer at Ease have a special place in my heart. Obi’s story is much closer to my reality and time than the first two protagonists. I could relate to him on so many levels. Indeed as a member of the diaspora, I am very much sensible to the idea of going back to my country to save it. I call this feeling the “guilt syndrome”. We all left our countries, for the white man’s country, to earn an education and we plan to go back at the slightest opportunity. Meanwhile, we see everyday on TV very disheartening things about Africa, which make us think that we should be there and not here.
Another trilogy that is absolutely amazing but quite voluminous (1300 pages in Total). I haven’t read a lot of Arab authors, but this one has definitely captured my imagination
Crossbones (series) by Nuruddin Farah
Mr Farah is my favorite Somali author. His entire trilogy is awesome. But my preference goes to Crossbones the last novel of the trilogy (Links and Maps are the first two). This trilogy summarizes very well Somalia’s stories for the last thirty years. Unfortunately, Somalia’s recent history is filled with war, civil unrest and terrorism. But it is really a great book especially if you want to understand the country’s political set up.