The Bookshelf: Out of Africa

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“One Maryland, One Book” is an annual program sponsored by Maryland Humanities and hosted at libraries and community settings across the state to bring diverse Marylanders together to discuss the same book. This year’s book selection is “Purple Hibiscus” by Chimamanda Adichie. Set in Nigeria during a military coup, it is about a young woman, Kambili, and her family. Told in Kambili’s voice, this emotional story includes themes of family, loyalty, and coming of age. Check out a copy from the library today. There are also unlimited digital copies available through Maryland’s Digital Library, Overdrive. Here are additional books and films with similar settings or themes:

“Things Fall Apart”

by Chinua Achebe

This is a classic novel about colonization in Africa. Okonkwo, a man from an Ibo village in Nigeria, struggles with changes wrought by culture clash and proselytizing Europeans.

“What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky”

by Lesley Nneka Arimah

This collection of short stories was a highly anticipated release for 2017. They cover a full range of emotions, from comedy to sadness to strange horror. Each story is carefully crafted and worth rereading. The author was born in Britain, and as a child lived in different countries including Nigeria. She currently resides in Minneapolis.

“Homegoing”

by Yaa Gyasi

A novel that spans three generations, starting with two sisters in eighteenth-century Ghana. One is sold into slavery and bound for America, while the other lives in an opulent palace in Ghana. This multi-generational story follows the family in both countries through the 20th century.

“We Need New Names”

by NoViolet Bulawayo

A young girl, Darling, and her friends do what they must to survive during a period of upset and violence in Zimbabwe, until she moves to America to live with her aunt. Her life as an immigrant is not as wonderful as she had hoped. This story is reminiscent of works by Junot Diaz, Zadie Smith and J. M. Coetzee.

“Stay With Me”

by Ayobami Adebayo

A young Nigerian couple struggles to have children. The wife’s family decides to take control of the situation by arranging a marriage for a second wife. In desperation, the first wife tries to get pregnant and save their marriage.

“Born on a Tuesday”

by Elnathan John

A young Nigerian boy raised in street gang is taken in by the sheikh of a local mosque. After a split in the close-knit community, he must decide whether to join a jihadist movement or work for change in a peaceful manner.

“The No. 1 Ladies

Detective Agency”

This is a TV series based on the Alexander McCall Smith novel of the same name. It is about a woman in Botswana, Precious Ramotswe, who opens her own detective agency.

“Queen of Katwe”

This inspiring Disney film follows a young Ugandan girl’s story after being introduced to the game of chess.

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