Skip to content

These Novels about Life in Africa will Give your Mind the Escape it Needs

My Sister the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite, is a  thriller of a debut novel packed full as Lagos, the city in which it is set and where its author was born. The bustling energy and traffic jams for which Nigeria’s capital is renowned make regular appearances. This darkly comic story of two sisters — their rivalry and their love — has been optioned for the movie, but don’t wait until it hits the big screen to get to know the characters. The Hairdresser of Harare, by Tenda Huchu, is deeply entwined with the Zimbabwean capital’s socioeconomic inequalities. Protagonist Vimbai may be a single mother without support from her family, but she maintains a rich and fulfilled life that sheds light on both the macroculture of Harare, still struggling with the aftermath of colonialism, and the everyday goings-on of its denizens. As in many good novels, the protagonist’s world is turned upside down when a stranger enters her life. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith is a series of novels in which 34-year-old Precious Ramotswe takes on detective work in Botswana’s capital city of Gaborone. From cheating husbands to a cook who’s being blackmailed, nothing and no one is beyond Ramotswe. With humor enlivening every page, this series is unlike any other detective fiction you’ve read. Before you know it, you’ll be in love with Gaborone and Botswana.