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East African Literature Continues to Grow and Reshape Itself in Exciting New Ways

The world really did take notice of the region when Tanzanian-British author Abdulrazak Gurnah won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2021. Interest in Gurnah’s work continued last year when he made a homecoming to east Africa. But it is in Tanzania that Gurnah made a proper splash through the first ever Swahili translation of his Booker Prize-nominated historical fiction, Paradise, now out as Peponi. In Kenya, it was the emergence of a new author, Linda Musita, that caused excitement. Her debut book of short stories called Mtama Road has been well received locally. The seven short stories (although perhaps short-shorts is more appropriate – the book comes in at under 100 pages) are all set on one road in Nairobi’s Parklands. If the new memoir by the Buganda queen is anything to go by, Uganda took literary candour a notch higher in 2023. In The Nnnabagereka, Queen Sylvia Nagginda Luswata, the journalist-turned-monarch, recalls her eventful journey from New York, where she lived through most of her childhood, to her unconventional dating of Prince Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II of Uganda. The tale includes a proposal via email.