One of the best things about studying Africa is that so much of the continent’s post-colonial literature is imbued with personal, perceptive and challenging insights into some of the unavoidable themes of African history. Fictional accounts, often fused with local traditions, can vividly capture the roles, trials and tribulations of individuals  enveloped by the wider processes with which historians are so often concerned; the impact of colonialism, identity alteration, state patronage, corruption, development, and the role of Africa’s ‘Big Men’ to name just a few. It can also often better show the ingenuity of African responses to these nineteenth and twentieth century challenges. And, of course, apart from anything else these numerous novels are, more often than not, vivid, sharp, funny and an all round engrossing read. So, here is a personal top-five selection to get you started.

1. Things Fall Apart– Chinua Achebe (1958)- The classic. Newsweek ranked Things Fall Apart #14 in…

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