The Magunga Bookstore is going out of its way to exclusively stock pieces of work by African authors and ensure African novels are equally read and celebrated as much if not more than the western authors.
As a result, thousands of great African authors, despite having produced masterpieces, lived miserable lives and died as paupers as their award winning books continued to gather dust and were confined to their tiny villages and countries.
A small Kenyan bookstore is, however, determined to change this narrative and give African authors an equal playing field to compete with the rest of the world by giving them the much needed publicity.
“African books are the ones that need help in being sold. Everyone else is coming from a much larger market. It's easier to find an American book in an African bookstore than it is to find a Kenyan book in a Kenyan one. That's ridiculous,” Abigail Arunga, Magunga Bookstore Operations Manager told Business Insider SSA.
The Magunga Bookstore, theatre of stories untold, is an online store based in Nairobi is going out of its way to exclusively stock pieces of work by African authors and ensure African novels are equally read and celebrated as much if not more than the western authors.
“African literature is quite literally lit, so successes don't surprise me. People just need to be introduced to the contemporary titles.”
So while you mull over that, here are five best selling African novels according to Magunga’s orders that Kenyans are hooked on and can't put down.
5. Things I will tell my daughter/I'm too pretty to be broke by Joan Thatiah
“I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I started reading it with a negative attitude for some reason (classic case of judging a book by its cover-because of the title, I expected a rip-off of Maya Angelou's Letter to my daughter), but page by page, my attitude shifted.
Joan is very original and authentic. It's the raw truth of Joan's words, the experiences you can relate to, the radicalism and revolutionary way in which she thinks that got to me.
Every mother should read this book,” One review about the novel reads.
Through a blend of personal narrative, social history and hard-eyed wisdom, Joan Thatiah delves into life lessons she has lived and learnt. Into the big things, the small things and the things that today’s young woman never imagines that she will have to deal with.
Her other novel ‘I'm too pretty to be broke and Other Lies You've Been Telling Yourself’ is also selling like hotcake and you need to place your order ASAP.
Joan Thatiah is a novelist, a creative writer and a journalist.
4. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin
Released in 2010, the Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by African-born poet Lola Shoneyin is one of those books that you read with a smile on your face. It's full of gloriously unsavoury characters caught in a terrible web of deceit.
It is no wonder Kenyans can’t get enough of it.
3. Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
Set in the shadow of Kenya’s independence from Great Britain, Dance of the Jakaranda reimagines the special circumstances that brought black, brown, and white men together to lay the railroad that heralded the birth of the nation.
"Kimani has done a game job managing the carpentry of this ambitious novel, bringing great skill to the task of deploying multiple storylines, huge leaps back and forth in time and the withholding and distribution of information...Once Kimani has his plotlines all set, his writing relaxes, and it’s here that you can see his raw talent...I have never read a novel about [Kenya] that’s so funny, so perceptive, so subversive and so sly." New York Times Book review reads.
2. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
This extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater, explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born "with one foot on the other side."
Unsettling, heartwrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities.
1. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from the slums of South Africa to the bright lights of New York City, more so hosting The Daily Show, one of the most popular shows in the world began with a criminal act: his birth.
Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist.
It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.
Early this year it was announced that the book will be turned into a movie with Kenya’s very own Lupita Nyong’o starring in the movie as Patricia Noah, the mother of Trevor Noah.
Of course as the case of movie adaption of books, the book always carry the day but then again I could be wrong so let’s wait for the movie and see.