African literature is a genre in and of itself. And it is one that I have always admired, albeit from a safe distance.
For me African literature is like a gobstopper – strong, distinct but difficult to eat. Like a painting that is beautiful but has you turning your head this way and that, wondering if perhaps the gallery accidentally placed it upside down. It is like listening to someone telling you how your body works on the inside, and though you knoooooww what they are saying is true…you forget the lesson as it comes.
But as a writer, and as a writer of Nigerian heritage, I’m expected to know about African literature – to be well read in the genre (more about why it is a genre in a future post). I’m tired of those looks I get when African writers are mentioned and I merely shrug. When asked who my favourite writers are, a bunch of British and American names dribble out of my mouth, eliciting disappointed glances.
So I shall no more shirk the genre and instead read 100 African books before concluding whether or not the genre is for me. I shall read MORE. I shall open my mind to MORE of these books that are winning the Caine prize and even MORE that have not smelt the award.
I shall open this blog to the journey that I am about to embark on and talk about the books as I read them. I will even go back to the ones I have read before.
It is a new dawn people! Be prepared!