A Suggested Reading List for Penny (and you)

Penny De Vries is a “Book worm. Book lover. Raised on Enid Blyton but have progressed to sterner stuff. Only read real books. e-Reading does not work for me as I immerse myself in the book, I live in its pages and I need that to be physical even though it is virtual in a way.”

Penny’s Reading Challenge in 2015 is to ” read fiction by SA (South African) writers only.

I got the following email from Penny:

“We are starting a reading group in Durban, South Africa. We want to concentrate on reading works by African writers. We are familiar with the South African writers but not as much with writers from other African countries. We do know quite a few of the well-known writers from the 20th century but not so many of the more contemporary writers.  We know Adichie and Helon Habila but not too many more. Could you recommend say 5 or so novels from the last 10 years that we could read?  Thanks for your help”

Here is the list I sent to Penny (with some notes):

“Thanks for reaching out. I can never stick to the recommend number so I have 9 books for you to choose from.  Mostly contemporary writers. I always strive for regional and language balance etc.  Plus I’ve added a fantasy book and a collection of short stories with gay characters for voices that we don’t hear enough of in African literature.  Also three collesctions of short stories.”List for Penny
 The List:
  1. Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou (Congo, translated from the French)
  2. Minaret by Leila Aboulela  (Sudan)
  3. Dust by YvonneAdhiambo Oduor (Kenya)
  4. The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone)
  5. The Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto (Mozambique, translated from the Portuguese)
  6. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (Nigeria, fantasy)
  7. African Love Stories edited by Ama Ata Aidoo (stories from all over the continent.)
  8. Fairytales for Lost Children by Diriye Osman (Somalia)
  9. Distant View of a Minaret by Alifa Rifaat (Egypt, translated from the Arabic)

Here is a sampling of Penny’s SA reading list:

  • The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga
  • The Space Between the Space Between by John Hunt
  • Sister Moon by Kirsten Miller
  • The Last Road Trip by Gareth Crocker
  • Wasted by Mark Winkler
  • London Cape Town Joburg by Zukiswa Wanner
  • October by Zoe Wicomb
  • Zebra Crossing by Meg Vandermerwe

The full list is here.




  1. Kinna, thanks for this list…..always so fantastic to get some more titles to help keep me on track with this challenge. Thank you 🙂


  2. Kinna, thanks for all the info you provide. Always looking for new and different books and especially want to expose my English IV students to multicultural work.


  3. I can’t find ‘African Love Stories’ edited by Ama Ata Aidoo anywhere in Accra… Its not at EPP or Ghana Book Trust or Vidya bookstore or the Accra Mall bookstore (nothing is ever there lol). I was thinking of ordering it online – where I get most of my books smh. Or maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places in Accra?


  4. *person* not Perrin (what’s a “Perrin”??). I just read that users can’t change the comments they write on someone else’s blog, only the blog owner can. Note to self: proofread! 🙂


  5. Thanks for the list. I saw this on Penny’s blog. I read a lot of South African lit but had also hoped to expand that this year. Your reading challenge is one I should aim to meet by year’s end.


  6. What a wonderful selection of books! I think The Memory of Love is a wonderful book and I really enjoyed one of Nnedi Okorafor’s other books (The Shadow Speaker) I’m going to look into the other books and I’m sure I’ll add a few to my wishlist 🙂


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