West African Books with Unconventional Approaches to Gender and Power (from Electric Lit)

One of the things this blog tries to do is to highlight books from outside the usual UK-US cannon. We live in a rich, varied world, and as readers, we are ideally placed to explore this richness through books. This is what lay behind the reading challenge that some of us set ourselves.

From time to time, I post articles on reading suggestions from different parts of the world. In this article, published in Electric Literature, Chinelo Okparanta, a Nigerian-American writer, lists six books by West African writers that take an unconventional look at relationships.

“In my novel, Under the Udala Trees, I explore the themes of betrayal and rebirth and happiness in the context of gender and power. In writing the novel, I imagined, unlike Ramatoulaye, a sort of happiness that existed outside of the traditional schema of marriage. Or rather, I imagined the pursuit of that sort of happiness. The fundamental desires of my protagonist, Ijeoma, are unconventional in her West African setting in the sense that she does not find her value via an attachment to a man. Lately, I’ve been interested in finding other West African authors who are also unconventional in their portrayal of love and marriage, of gender and power. The following are my top six.”

You can read the article here. You can read more about Chinelo Okparanta on her website.

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