Reading List: Anthologies of African Literature

I’m sure that by now most of us have heard of The Granta Book of the African Short Story.  It is edited by the Nigerian author Helon Habila.  I listened to a BBC program in which Mr. Habila gave the impression that the short stories is somewhat neglected in African literature.  So I guess, it’s thanks to Granta for reviving the form. Hhmm… Of course, I disagree with his assessment of the African short story.

Anthologies of African literature are always problematic.  Africa is huge and very diverse; how exactly does one anthologize that?  Note to self: Big question for which I have no answer will spoil the fun, so ignore.

Here, then, is a list of short story anthologies of African literature:

  • The Granta Book of the African Short Story edited by Helon Habila (2011)
  • African Short Stories edited by Chinua Achebe and C.L. Innes (2008)
  • African Love Stories edited by Ama Ata Aidoo (2007)
  • The Anchor Book of Modern African Stories edited by Nadezda Obradovic (2002)
  • The Picador Book of African Short Stories edited by Stephen Gray (2000)
  • Opening Spaces: Contemporary African Women’s Writing edited by Yvonne Vera (1999)
  • Under African Skies: Modern African Stories edited by Charles Larson (1998)
  • The Heinemann Book of South African Short Stories edited by Denis Hirson (1994)
  • The Heinemann Book of Contemporary African Short Stories edited by Chinua Achebe and C.L. Innes (1992)

An incomplete list but a good place to start.

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18 comments

  1. Thank you so much for the review on Opening Spaces,you simply transferred your love for African anthologies to me,kicking out my ignorance on African issues. I really can’t wait to read the rest of the list. As my lecturer always says : “read two books for every pound you gain”

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  2. African Literature Today 31 will be on ‘The Short Story in African Literature Today.’ The Editor, Professor Ernest Emenyonu, has issued a call for articles and pointed out that he will be proposing a panel on the topic at this year’s ASA. For some information on the journal, please visit http://www.umflint.edu/africana/African%20Literature%20Today/Editors.htm

    Or, search for names and titles in this note.
    And 32 will be on …. Politics and Social Justice in African Literature Today.

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  3. I agree Kinna. It is always difficult to define but that should be our asset, so that we could put together a lot of different anthologies. Should one go according to the regional blocks and if so should it be a proportional representation?

    Have read one or two of the anthologies above. And in addition to the Caine Prize accrabooksandthings mentioned you could also add African Roar, having published two anthologies so far.

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  4. I’m not the biggest fan of short stories but I’m trying to get into them. Finished reading African Love Stories the other day, which I loved (and just might change my view of short stories). Thank you for this list.

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  5. Hm, I don’t have the impression the short-story is neglected in African literature. José Luandino Vieira, Ondjaki and Mia Couto are especially famous for their short-stories.

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  6. I have The Granta Book of the African Short Story, picked it up last year in one of my favourite charity bookshops, have yet to read t though, hopefully will do so this year.

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    • I purposefully left those off the list. I had a good reason after thinking it through but now I cannot remember. I will talk about the Caine Short stories when I do a post on individual short stories. But thanks for pointing out the Caine anthologies.

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