The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born is the debut novel by Ghanaian writer Ayi Kwei Armah. It was published in 1968 by Houghton Mifflin, and then republished in the influential Heinemann African Writers Series in 1969. The novel tells the story of a nameless man who struggles to reconcile himself with the reality of post-independence Ghana.
The novel provides a description of the existential angst of the book’s hero who struggles to remain clean when everyone else around him has succumbed to “rot”. The theme spins around the grand corruption, military dictatorship, country’s maladjustment under the reign of Nkrumah and the military junta. Even the title The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born gives a glimpse to the theme of the book. There are also clashes between lower-class people, like the man and his family, and upper-class people like Joseph Koonson and other government officials. [Wikipedia]
2. Faceless – Amma Darko
Street life in the slums of Accra is realistically portrayed in this socially-commited, subtle novel about four educated women who are inspired by the plight of a 14-year old girl, Fofo. As the main characters convert their library center into a practical street initiative, the novel invokes the squalor, health risks, and vicious cycles of poverty and violence that drive children to the streets and women to prostitution; and, from which, ultimately, no one in the society is free. [Google Books]
3. Our Sister Kill Joy – Ama Atta–Aidoo
Our Sister Killjoy is about a young African woman named Sissie who goes to Europe to “better” herself (with European education) as described by her African counterparts. The novel revolves around themes of black diaspora and colonialism in particular colonization of the mind. Sissie observes the other Africans who have emigrated (also for education and the desire for a better life in Europe) and sees them as “sell-outs” who have forgotten their culture and their motherland. Aidoo touches on the effects of post-colonialism and how the traditions and thoughts of the colonizer are instilled into the minds of the colonized. Sissie in the novel represents the need to have a connection to one’s past. [Wikipedia]
4. Tales From Different Tails – Nana Awere Damoah
If anyone can paint a vivid image with words, breathe life into a collection of alphabets, create a vivid imagination in one’s mind with intricately and well woven tales brewed in the Ghanaian soot-coated aluminium cooking pot, then it is Nana Awere Damoah. This collection of short stories is an embodiment of class, style, humor, sarcasm, truth, knowledge, religion, self-realization and inspiration. Tales from Different Tails is a must-have book for every literature addict, anyone looking for a new lease of life in African literature and the general reading populace. [Google Books]
5. Ghana Must Go – Taiye Selasi
Kweku Sai, a renowned surgeon’s death in Ghana launches a series of events in his family’s life. Although he’s left them behind, his wife Fola and their four children—Olu, Kehinde, Taiwo, and Sadie—are left to deal with the repercussions of his passing and reconcile the conflicts he created. In the moment of his death, Kweku takes the audience through the time he did share with his family. From his youngest daughter, Sadie’s, birth to the doomed surgery that tanked his career, the first part of the book explores the events that pushed him to leave.
Fola is in Ghana when she learns of Kweku’s death, and asks their eldest son Olu to reunite his scattered siblings. Olu lives in Boston, Sadie is in school at Yale, Taiwo lives in New York City and the last they heard Kehinde was living in London. In coming together for the first time in years, they’re forced to deal with the pain and obstacles that their father’s abrupt desertion brought to their lives. For twins Kehinde and Taiwo, it is evident that they are no longer as close as they were as children and not even Fola knows why.
Back in Ghana and living under the same roof, the family is forced to confront the events that have divided their family, and begin to reconnect after years of misunderstanding and unspoken feelings. Olu overcomes his fear of commitment, Sadie finds herself, and Fola learns what happened to Taiwo and Kehinde. The novel ends with the family on the path to healing and forgiveness. [Wikipedia]