March '23 Reviews

1 March 2023

CONTEMPORARY FICTION (NIGERIA)

New York, My Village by Uwem Akpan, 2022
R570 from The Book Lounge

Akpan’s satirical debut novel tells the tale of Ekong Udousoro, a Nigerian editor who lands a scholarship at a publishing house in NYC, allowing him to continue his work curating stories of the Biafran War. Ultimately, Ekong’s amusing New York trials and tribulations are a reflection of tribalism everywhere. Despite the racist slights and snobbery he endures, the narrator’s strong sense of culture and community afford him the last laugh. LC

GENDER STUDIES (SOUTH AFRICA)

The Soft Life by Lebohang Masango, 2022
R280 from The Book Lounge

Through a feminist lens, anthropologist Lebohang Masango explores the romantic lives of five black South African women who are dating wealthy men with the aim of attaining a life devoid of hardships, a.k.a. “the soft life”. Masango’s approach avoids portraying these women as gold diggers or social climbers: rather, The Soft Life provides a holistic and human perspective that makes the book a much-needed, insightful look into the dating realities of black women in South Africa. NM

GENDER STUDIES (SOUTH AFRICA)

The Soft Life by Lebohang Masango, 2022
R280 from The Book Lounge

Through a feminist lens, anthropologist Lebohang Masango explores the romantic lives of five black South African women who are dating wealthy men with the aim of attaining a life devoid of hardships, a.k.a. “the soft life”. Masango’s approach avoids portraying these women as gold diggers or social climbers: rather, The Soft Life provides a holistic and human perspective that makes the book a much-needed, insightful look into the dating realities of black women in South Africa. NM

TRAVEL (UGANDA/DIASPORA)

The Catch Me If You Can by Jessica Nabongo, 2022
R730 from The Book Lounge

In 2019, American-Ugandan Jessica Nabongo became the first black woman to visit every country in the world. Along the way her blog, The Catch Me If You Can, and her Instagram accounts gained huge traction and she became a top-tier travel influencer. Her book recounts her journey to 100 of the 195 countries she visited and features her own photographs. She gently challenges preconceptions, and often recounts the incredible kindness of strangers. This is sure to become a significant book, especially for black female travellers. GB

TRAVEL (UGANDA/DIASPORA)

The Catch Me If You Can by Jessica Nabongo, 2022
R730 from The Book Lounge

In 2019, American-Ugandan Jessica Nabongo became the first black woman to visit every country in the world. Along the way her blog, The Catch Me If You Can, and her Instagram accounts gained huge traction and she became a top-tier travel influencer. Her book recounts her journey to 100 of the 195 countries she visited and features her own photographs. She gently challenges preconceptions, and often recounts the incredible kindness of strangers. This is sure to become a significant book, especially for black female travellers. GB

ART (SOUTH AFRICA)

Some New Paintings by Georgina Gratrix, 2018
R640 from Clarke’s Bookshop

This documentation of a single solo exhibition of Gratrix’s work might be just 64 pages long, but it is perfectly put together. It features full-colour photographs documenting all the works on show – including exhibition views that add a sense of how Gratrix’s pieces play off each other. Plus, it contains a pithy, punchy and brilliantly readable essay about the artist’s work by the immensely talented young writer Rosa Lyster. If only all catalogues were this good! RA

ART (SOUTH AFRICA)

Some New Paintings by Georgina Gratrix, 2018
R640 from Clarke’s Bookshop

This documentation of a single solo exhibition of Gratrix’s work might be just 64 pages long, but it is perfectly put together. It features full-colour photographs documenting all the works on show – including exhibition views that add a sense of how Gratrix’s pieces play off each other. Plus, it contains a pithy, punchy and brilliantly readable essay about the artist’s work by the immensely talented young writer Rosa Lyster. If only all catalogues were this good! RA

ART (GHANA)

El Anatsui: the Reinvention of Sculpture by El Anatsui, Chika Okeke-Agulu and Okwui Enwezor, 2022
R1620 from Jonathan Ball

Tracing the development of El Anatsui’s artistic output to date – and placing it within the context of artistic predecessors and context – this book is both beautifully detailed and exquisitely opulent. In both these characteristics, it is rather like the work of its subject, who is one of African contemporary art’s biggest stars. RA

FOOD (GABON/DIASPORA)

Saka Saka by Anto Cocagne and Aline Princet, 2022
R560 from Jonathan Ball

Chef and TV celebrity Anto Cocagne’s book is focused on sub-Saharan food, and is the perfect introduction to anyone wanting to widen their repertoire via some African culinary classics. Think peanut sauce-infused stews; red palm oil sauce (very different from the palm oil in supermarket produce); pépé a.k.a. “pepper” soup; and oily/wolof/jollof rice. Deliberately accessible, this is a book from which to both learn and cook. RA

FOOD (GABON/DIASPORA)

Saka Saka by Anto Cocagne and Aline Princet, 2022
R560 from Jonathan Ball

Chef and TV celebrity Anto Cocagne’s book is focused on sub-Saharan food, and is the perfect introduction to anyone wanting to widen their repertoire via some African culinary classics. Think peanut sauce-infused stews; red palm oil sauce (very different from the palm oil in supermarket produce); pépé a.k.a. “pepper” soup; and oily/wolof/jollof rice. Deliberately accessible, this is a book from which to both learn and cook. RA

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