2016 Africa Reading Challenge

Welcome to the Africa Reading Challenge.

This will be the fourth time that I’m hosting the Africa Reading Challenge.  Details and requirements are the same this year as for the 2012 Africa Reading Challenge, which started with: “I have absolutely no reason for hosting nor urging you to participate in this challenge save for the joy of discovering and reading African literature!” Here are the details:

Challenge Period

January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016


The entire African continent, including its island-states, which are often overlooked. Please refer to this Wikipedia “list of sovereign states and dependent territories in Africa”. Pre-colonial empires and regions are also included.

Reading Goal

5 books.  That’s it.  There will be no other levels.  Of course, participants are encouraged to read more than 5 books.  Eligible books include those which are written by African writers, or take place in Africa, or are concerned with Africans and with historical and contemporary African issues. Note that at least 3 books must be written by African writers.


  • Fiction – novels, short stories, poetry, drama, children’s books.  Note: You can choose to read a number of individual and uncollected short stories.  In this case, 12 such stories would constitute one book.  Individual poems do not count but books of poetry do.
  • Non-fiction – memoirs, autobiographies, history and current events.

Reading Suggestions

  • Cover at least two regions, pick from North Africa, Southern Africa, East Africa, West Africa and Central Africa
  • Include books originally written in African languages
  • Translated fiction from Arabic, Francophone and Lusophone literature
  • You can mix classic and contemporary fiction
  • If you intend to read mostly non-fiction, then please include at least one book  of fiction.

I’m not inclined to push any reading philosophy, I would however like to encourage participants to broaden their knowledge of African literature. For the novice, if you have not read any African lit or if you’ve read one book (E.g. Achebe’s Things Fall Apart):  I would advise a mix of at least two regions, two languages, classic and contemporary, with both men and women writers.

For the advanced reader of African literature:  perhaps there is some gap (country, region, language, theme, gender)  you want to fill or author(s) whose works you want to explore further? You could also, for example:

  • Read only collection/anthologies of short stories
  • Stick to the literary tradition of one country
  • Explore literature written in African languages
  • Read only Lusophone literature
  • Read wherever the urge takes you!

Other Details

  1. Overlap with other challenges is allowed.
  2. E-books and audio books are allowed.
  3. There is no need to make a list beforehand.  Although most of us love lists, don’t we?

To Sign up:

Leave a comment below to sign-up. You can list the books you intend to read if you’ve already decided. For those with blogs:  write a post on your blog about the challenge (with or without your list) and link to this post.

Reviews and Completion of Challenge

Reviews of books read are not required but are encouraged, especially for those with blogs. Please link your reviews to this post.  If you do not have a blog and would like to guest review on this blog, then please feel free to contact me.

On Books and Reading Lists

Some classic African literature can be hard to find.  Please check your libraries and use inter-library loans if you have access to such services.  I will publish lists of reading materials under various themes until I tire of the process.  Please contact me at kinnareadsATgmailDOTcom if you need any help.

You can subscribe to this blog (see top of the right sidebar) to stay updated on this challenge. That’s it.  Let’s enjoy reading for the 2016 Africa Reading Challenge.


  1. Good challenge. I am in. Last days I read Moving the Centre by Way Things, Mine Boy by Peter Abrahams and Artist the Ruler by omit p’Bites… It gives me African perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been intrigued by your African Reading Challenge for some time, and I’m in for 2016. I’m now at one down (Thiong’o – A Grain of Wheat) with seven to go. Why eight? Well, my initial list included Mahfouz – Cairo Trilogy, which has to count as three books. Then, based on the recommendation of a friend, I added Adichie – Americanah. Rounding out the list are Mofolo – Chaka, Couto – Sleepwalking Land, and Bâ – Une si longue lettre, which I am currently reading – in French. It seems like a pretty diversified list, and in keeping with your guidelines.

    What initially brought me to your website were your comments about the work of my favorite author for the last few years, José Saramago.


    • I did it! Completed the challenge this past weekend. The five books were: Thiong’o – A Grain of Wheat; Bâ – Une si longue lettre; Mahfouz – Palace Walk (Cairo Trilogy I); Adichie – Americanah; and Mahfouz – Palace of Desire (Cairo Trilogy II). I’m currently reading Mofolo – Chaka, and plan on finishing Mahfouz – Sugar Street (Cairo Trilogy III) and Couto – Sleepwalking Land, which are both on the shelf. This was a terrific challenge and very rewarding effort. Many thanks to you for suggesting it!


  3. I have been allowing my students to read anything, well, almost anything, they want for their Book Reports every six weeks. Next six week period, all will read “Things Fall Apart”. Some will try to revolt, think it is stupid–I can just hear all the comments now. Nevertheless, hopefully it will open their minds to the wider world.


  4. I am in! I plan to read Tram 83, One Day I Will Write about This Place, 1 (or more) of Bessie Head’s books that have long been on my list/shelf. And at least one book in translation (from a Lusophone title)


  5. This is wonderful. Read a novel from Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Hoping to read from West and North Africa for this year’s challenge.


  6. This is quite in line with my 2016 resolve. I’ve just finished reading Sindiwe Magona’s Chasing The Tails Of My Father’s Cattle (South African). Lovely read.
    Count me in!


  7. Ever ready reader. Currently with Kintu, and A Brief History of Seven Killings. Expecting to read Chigozie Obioma, and Crimson Blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, looking forward to Lola Shoneyins next one.


  8. I have read mostly Southern African authors like Chenjerai Hove,Shimmer Chinodya,Ezekiel Mphalele just to name a few of my favourites.In 2015 I discovered Chimamanda and read all 3 of her novels,Purple Hibiscus,Half a yellow Sun and her collection of short stories The thing around my neck.Looking to discover more authors from other parts of Africa in 2016


    • Welcome to the Challenge. I will be publishing more book lists and suggestions. I hope you find new favorites among them. Enjoy reading more African literature in 2016.


  9. I am so excited about this challenge, especially since I recently returned from my first visit to South Africa! Thank you – will be updating my reading list shortly!


  10. Will be done by the end of January, I think.🙂 Unavoidable in any case. Who could avoid reading FIVE BOOKS from Africa in an entire 365 days??


    • A good list. I see that Wizard of the Crow is popular this year. A really good choice. It’s engrossing and funny. Now Tram 83! I’ll be reading that soon. Welcome to the Challenge and Enjoy your reading!


  11. […] Her er ihvertfall de leseutfordringene jeg skal bli med på i år;2016 New Release Challenge – New Releases Newbie-nivået2016 Horror Reading Challenge – Fearless-nivåetThe 2016 Book Riot Read Harder ChallengeBack to the Classics2016 WOMEN CHALLENGE – Wonder-Woman-nivåetFlights of Fantasy Reading Challenge – skal prøve og lese over 15 bøkerAfrica Reading Challenge […]


  12. I met my goal for last year’s challenge of reading books written in five different languages. I read books originally written in English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Afrikaans (all in English translation). I realized I didn’t read anything written in any language indigenous to Africa. (Though I’m not sure how to classify Afrikaans.) I’d like to make up for that, but I don’t think I’ll commit all five of my challenge books to that though. The only examples I know of, available in English, are Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o in Gikuyu and The Conscript by Gebreyesus Hailu written in Tigrinya.

    If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!


    • Wow,now that’s a challenge. Afrikaans is a language spoken primarily in South Africa so go ahead, claim and tick that box. I wouldn’t classify it as indigenous but it is spoken here. I think I’ll do a a list post for you. I know of Hausa, Shona books among others.


  13. wow! what a great multivation? Will take part in the challenge to start reading again, But first l have to check from the libaries in lceland and see the books they have or to see if they have any African books out there. I will recommend people to read this book( The dilemma of a ghost) I think is a very interesting book. I read it once in the 90s and l am looking forward to read it again if they have it in the libary here in lceland.Thanks


    • Welcome to the Challenge. I do hope you find a good selection of African literature in the libraries of Iceland. I also do recommend The Dilemma of a Ghost. Do share what you find to read here. Enjoy your reading.


  14. The AFRO-Freedom Book Club would like to sign up!

    This is a book club open to the public. It is a great setting for Afro-centric, creative, opinionated and open minded people. This is an excellent way to enjoy African literature with a diverse and great group of readers. The book club is open to fellow brothers and sisters who want to stimulate their brain cells, have fun and create meaningful relationships through shared literature.

    Set at the beloved Afrikan Freedom Station, in Johannesburg, South Africa. – which is a jazz music venue, art gallery, coffee shop, Afrikan ART hub. We meet on the last Wednesday of every month. This book club promises a Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Ubuntu.

    *Our focus is on Afrikan authors / writers.

    Check out facebook page – everyone is welcome!



  15. Even though I’ve already signed up for 6 (!) other challenges, I can’t resist this one, considering that I have a world literature project going on (yeah, read a book from every country/territory in the world to the extent that it is possible).


    • Welcome to the Challenge. I’ve always wanted to do a read-a-book-from-every-country challenge! Enjoy your reading. Looking forward to what you pick to read.


    • Welcome to the Challenge. Do share your list of books with us and/or your thoughts on the books, when you can. Enjoy reading for the Challenge. Thank you for the kind words.


  16. I would like to join the Challenge with the following books – Waiting for the wild beasts to vote by Ahmadou Kourouma, Wizard of the crow by Ngugi wa Thiong’o, New Waw by Ibrahim al-Koni and The cry of Winnie Mandela by Njabulo Ddebele. My fifth books will be from Lusophone tradition. Thank you very much for your blog and organizing the Challenge!


    • Welcome to the Challenge. You picked some of my favorite books. The Cry of Winnie Mandela is so special to me. I think Wizard of the Crow is Ngugi’s finest and funniest book. Good choice to add Lusophone literature to the list. Enjoy reading for the Challenge and do share your thoughts on the books with us here.


  17. I need this!
    I’m embarrassed at how little African literature I’ve read, and this needs to be remedied.
    Now the struggle shall be finding the books; The few libraries we have in Rwanda aren’t very well stocked…


  18. I’m signing in for the challenge, and I’ll be doing my best to write short reviews in my personal blog. Since I am in the process of finishing writing my PhD thesis, I cannot engage to read more than the proposed five books. I just have read one book by Mda Zakes, one by Coetzee, La Sorcière by Marie NDiaye, and Salla Dieng’s La denière lettre. I’ve never thought of the country of origin of these writers, so apart from the two South African males, I don’t know where the two women in the list come from. I would be interested in focusing a lot more on female writers (though I would also like to read Ben Okri’s The Famished Road, which has been sitting in my library for years). Any recommendation? Thank you very much.


    • Welcome to the Challenge and thanks for participating. I’ll be publishing a list of resources that are already on this blog. Plus, I’ll do a list of suggested books by African women writers. Ndaiye is from Senegal and France and her books are a great choice. Enjoy your reading.


  19. Omg I so want to be in… but I have no idea where I’m gonna get the books from and you stated that no ebooks😯… so I’m ummm… wondering how that’s gonna be possible for me… but I totally salute the challenge


  20. Found this via friend Sara. I am starting close to home and contemporary. Hope these count. Kwei Quartey Death at the Voyager Hotel. And Frances Mensah Williams From Pasta to Pigfoot. Thanks Kinna great idea.


  21. Glad you’re hosting again this year! I’m in🙂 Will have a look through the library catalog and see what I can come up with. I’m hoping to read more books from Lusophone areas or at least not only NIgerian lit.


  22. I would love to take part in this challenge. We have a Bookclub focusing on African writing. Our first book is Decolonising the Mind by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o. I will post on my blog and link to this too


      • I’ll start with Peter Godwin’s Mukiwa, I think, as I’ve been meaning to read this for ages. Haven’t really made a list of titles to read after that, but there’s so much to choose from I’m sure I’ll find more than enough reading material.


      • Just completed the challenge! Here’s what I read:

        Mukiwa by Peter Godwin
        Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
        No Time LIke the Present by Nadine Gordimer
        We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
        The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

        I loved each of those books, and hope there’ll be another reading challenge next year.


  23. I am so excited to take up this challenge!! Thanks for encouraging us to delve into the wealth of literary treasures available on our continent.


    • Sara! I’m excited that you’re doing the Challenge. Like I said last night, reach out if you need help finding books. I have loads of African literature at home.


  24. My goal for 2016 is to read more broadly across Africa and more diverse literature from South Africa.

    In 2015 I read 23 out of about 88 books from Africa – 17 from South Africa, 1 Algeria, 1 Rwanda, 1 Nigerian-American, 1 Angolan, 1 Equatorial Guinea, 1 Slovenian novel set in Burkina Faso by an author (Gabriela Babnik) who studied Nigerian literature and spends half the year in Burkina Faso where she has family. I also read a collection of stories by an author of Senegalese and French heritage but did not include it because there is no specifically African content in that work.


    • As usual, your reading for the 2015 was quite comprehensive. Looking forward to what yu choose to read this year. Thanks for participating again in the Challenge.


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