African Novels

A large part of the action of these novels is set in Africa. They deal with the culture, customs, and living conditions of the African people.

See also South African

Novels Set in Africa or with African characters

A Bend in the River | V.S. Naipaul

Salim is an Indian Muslim in the Congo (Zaire) where he owns a shop. There is an uneasy peace in the region. Salim’s people are a minority in this area, and he is alienated. He can’t go back home as his family is scattered due to instability in that area. The Big Man is a dictator who is trying to squash the uprisings of the rebels. Salim tries to build his business, but eventually the dictator’s authority interferes with him.

No Longer at Ease | Chinua Achebe

Obi Okonkwo is being tried for accepting bribes. The narrative backs up to show how he ended up in this situation. He is selected from his village to study in England. Obi gets a degree in English literature. When he returns home he seeks a job in the civil service. He is strongly against bribes. He meets a woman named Clara and sees her regularly.

King Solomon’s Mines | H. Rider Haggard

Allan Quatermain records the events of his African treasure hunt. He sets out with a few men to find King Solomon’s mines. Along the way, they hunt, look for water, get involved in the affairs of local tribesmen, fight, and get sick.

Read “King Solomon’s Mines”

Graceland | Chris Abani

In 1980s Nigeria, sixteen-year-old Elvis Oke has to return home after failing to make a living as an Elvis Presley impersonator. He gets a job but loses it quickly. He starts working for his friend Redemption, who has many contacts and no ethical standards. In another narrative we see significant events from Elvis’s childhood. His father is cold and abusive, and his uncle is violent and abusive.

When Rain Clouds Gather | Bessie Head

Frustrated by his Zulu tradition and apartheid, Makhaya flees South Africa into Botswana. He ends up in a village called Golema Mmidi where his farming knowledge is put to use. Chief Matenge doesn’t like Makhaya or Gilbert, a British expatriate who farms in the village. Matenge is greedy and the people don’t respect him.

The Poisonwood Bible | Barbara Kingsolver

Orleana Price and her four daughters relate the events of their lives in the Congo. Nathan Price goes there with his family as a Christian missionary. The family adapts to the radically different living conditions. Nathan struggles to increase church attendance while the native people cling to their traditional beliefs. Meanwhile, the Congo is fighting for independence.

Scoop | Evelyn Waugh

William Boot, a nature columnist, is mistakenly sent to Ishmaelia, East Africa, as a war correspondent.

The Last King of Scotland | Giles Foden

Garrigan is a Scottish physician who goes to Uganda to work at a small clinic. It is reported that Major-General Amin has taken over the presidency. There is civil unrest as rebels who support the former president make raids. Garrigan is called to the scene of an accident involving President Amin; he asks Garrigan to become his personal physician.

The Wrestling Match | Buchi Emecheta

Okei is a sixteen-year-old living with his uncle’s family because his own family was killed in the Nigerian Civil War. Okei feels some conflict between his traditional culture and his education and violent experiences. Some boys from Okei’s village and a neighboring village are bored and causing trouble. The elders of the respective villages come up with a diversion for the young people.