Monday, 23 January 2012

African Lusophone Literature Guide

I thought that in case someone else wanted to give Portuguese-speaking African literature a go during the African Reading Challenge, a quick list of what’s available in English would come in handy. The results are not very encouraging: it seems that outside Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde, African countries where Portuguese is spoken have a hard time exporting their literature. Also, some of these books are out of print. And there’s no poetry or plays available. Here’s hoping one day someone will translate Ondjaki or Mia Couto’s poetry:


Óscar Ribas (1909-2004):
Echoes of my Homeland

José Luandino Vieira (b. 1935):
Luuanda: Short Stories of Angola
The Loves of João Vêncio

Pepetela (b. 1941):
The Water Spirit
Jaime Bunda, Secret Agent
Ngunga’s Adventures

José Eduardo Agualusa (b. 1960):
My Father’s Wives
The Book of Chameleons
Rainy Season

Ondjaki (b. 1977):
The Whistler
Good Morning Comrades


Lília Momplé (b. 1935):
Neighbors: The Story of a Murder

Luís Bernardo Honwana (b. 1942):
We Killed Mangy-Dog

Mia Couto (b. 1955):
Sleepwalking Land
Under the Frangipani
A River Called Time
The Last Flight of the Flamingo
Every Man is a Race
Voices Made Night

Paulina Chiziane (b. 1955):
Niketche: A Story of Polygamy

Poets of Mozambique (ed. by Frederick G. Williams): A suggestion by Alex; this bilingual anthology gathers Mozambican poetry from the colonial period to modern times, and contains the work of writers like Mia Couto, Rui Knopfli and José Craveirinha. Sounds good to me.

Cape Verde

Germano Almeida (b. 1945):
The Last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo

Portugal (Honorable Mention)

Teolinda Gersão (b. 1940:
The Word Tree

I included Portuguese novelist Teolinda Gersão’s novel because the rules of the ARC allow books not written by Africans to be included, provided they deal with Africa. I thought this would be an interesting choice of reading because its deals with the experiences of Portuguese settlers in Africa during the colonial period.

Even though the offer is scarce, I hope some readers will feel curious enough to give some of these writers a try.


  1. Other which might be interesting for readers of poetry: "Poets of Mozambique: A Bilingual Anthology".

    Thanks for the tip on Agualusa, I've made the change!

    1. Alex, hello.

      Thanks for the suggestion!

      I like your blog; you can see I nicked the idea of the photos from your post ;)

  2. Thanks for posting this list. As someone who is always looking to expand his reading horizons a list of different but seemingly worthy titles looks very appealing to me. I will give one or two a try!

    1. Hello, Brian.

      I'm glad to have been of help.