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From brooding, surrealist epics by the crafting hand of Murukami, to dark, noir thrillers
between Manila and New York, to political hot potatoes that consider the state of
contemporary China, this list of 10 award-winning books by Asian writers in the last 10 years
is sure to have something up your alley.

Ilustrado, Miguel Syjuco

Through a lens of half-autobiography and half-cultural criticism, Miguel Syjuco’s award-

winning novel makes a genuine attempt to appreciate the diversity and eccentricities of
modern Manila and the fabric of the contemporary Philippines. The story itself—with its light
shading of New York noir and American thriller—tells the story of a young writer’s
apprentice tasked with the self-appointed mission of writing an account of his deceased
master’s life. The action that follows takes readers on a journey of meta-criticism, which does
well to entertain while asking some serious questions about the state of Filipino literature as a

Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer, Cyrus Mistry

Heavy, hard-hitting and thoughtful at every turn, Cyrus Mistry’s Chronicle of a Corpse
Bearer tells the tale of Phiroze Elchidana, the son of a celebrated Parsi priest living in
Bombay who falls in love with the downtrodden daughter of a Zoroastrian corpse bearer. The
compelling confrontation of societal echelons and social norms that ensues is a captivating
consideration of contemporary Indian society, and, indeed, the identities of all minorities
currently living on the margins. In 2014, Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer picked up the
prestigious DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

Three Sisters, Bi Feiyu

An intense and invigorating examination of personality and rampant individualism that’s set
in the context of high-Communist China in the years of the Cultural Revolution, Three Sisters
does well to draw its readers in with a plethora of storylines that touch on vice, sex,
Machiavellian power plays and contemporary politics all at the same time. With its focus on
female characters and their interactions with male patriarchs in the China all around them, the
book continues on in the same vein as Feiyu’s other feminist works, while its general success
was galvanized in 2010, when it garnered the prestigious Man Booker Prize for Asian

The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga

A literal manifestation of the ongoing dialectic between the old and the new India, Aravind
Adiga’s debut novel of 2008 chronicles the life and travails of young Balram Halwai, who
moves through the strata of the Hindu caste system to become a product of the country’s new
capitalist drive. Along the way there are episodes of despair, immorality and desperation to
boot, painting a visceral picture of India’s struggling identity as it enters the modern age.
Quite rightly, The White Tiger was met with great critical acclaim, was high on the New
York Times bestseller list and even touts that much-coveted Man Booker Prize.

The Garden of Evening Mists, Tan Twan Eng

Following on from his first novel (The Gift of Rain, 2007) in much the same style, Tan
Twang Eng offers up this masterfully-sculpted narrative with all his trademark mysticism and
esoteric turns of phrase. In a setting that could easily be the subject of an ink-and-wash
painting by the ancient master, Sesshu Toyo, the reader is plunged into a retrospective
unraveling of 1950s Malaya, as the British colonialists vie for control of the misty highlands
with the Chinese communists. The impetus to action is the respective exile and animosity
from and for Japan of the central characters, which slowly evolves into a redemptive
dynamic, manifesting through art and the romantic serenity of nature all around.

Goat Days, Benyamin

Originally published in Benyamin’s native Malayalam back in 2008, this striking, compelling
and staunchly topical story was still making waves in 2013 and 2014, as it emerged in
English translations and paperback editions. After claiming the Kerala Sahithya Academy
Award in 2009, it subsequently found its way onto the long list for the Man Asian Literary
Prize and then the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, hailed for its visceral examination
of life as a migrant worker in Saudi Arabia and all the oppression, grief, suffering and bitterly
comedic realities it entails.

1Q84, Haruki Murukami

While so far this one’s only garnered long list nominations on the Asian Man Booker Prize
(2011), and a second-place prize on Amazon’s best books of the year rundown, it’s certainly
worth a mention as the cornerstone magnum opus of Murukami’s curious and indelibly
Japanese surrealist style. Short of attempting a plot breakdown of the nebula of weird and
wonderful storylines that runs throughout, suffice to say that the three voluminous editions
that form the saga complete, come with all the eccentric, psychedelic, and disconcertingly
alien phenomena you’d expect of the former Franz Kafka Prize recipient.

Please Look After Mother, Shin Kyung-sook

Copies of this emotional, retrospective consideration of motherly life flew off the shelves in
South Korea in the months following publication in 2009, and by 2012, the work had
garnered the prestigious Man Booker Prize for Asian Literature. The story is a heart-
wrenching and exacting tale of family sacrifice and love, and tells the story of stroke-victim
and dedicated matriarch, Park So-nyo, who becomes disorientated on a city train and is
separated from her family. The action then moves to a series of recollections on the
dedication of So-nyo to her family, as they search for her amidst the heady and daunting
streets of downtown Seoul.

The Boat to Redemption, Su Tong

Famed as the writer behind the Oscar-nominated Raise the Red Lantern film of 1993, Su
Tong has risen to become one of China’s leading avant-garde authors. In The Boat to
Redemption he crafts a delicate but hard-hitting tale that deals with the pitfalls of power and
superstition in 20th century China. The narrative tells the story of a father-and-son duo who
shun public life for a drifting existence. Identity is the key theme and a constant desire to
discover one’s identity in an ever-changing world.

Wolf Totem, Jiang Rong (Lü Jiamin)

Bursting at the seams with various awards and accolades (including a nomination in the 21st
Century Ding Jun Semiannual, a listing in the Yazhou Zhoukan weekly and the prestigious
Man Asian Literature award), this compelling narrative draws on the author’s own
experiences of the Mongolian Steppe, where he went during the tumultuous years of China’s
Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. With glimpses of Turgenev-esque Hunting Sketches and
White Fang’s visceral reduction of the human condition, the tale unravels to produce a sort of
utopian vision that’s eventually destroyed by the onslaught of a mechanized China—essential
reading for any young contrarian.

North America
Top Ten Works by American Authors

1. The Great Gats by by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925). Perhaps the most searching fable of the
American Dream ever written, this glittering novel of the Jazz Age paints an unforgettable
portrait of its day — the flappers, the bootleg gin, the careless, giddy wealth. Self-made
millionaire Jay Gatsby, determined to win back the heart of the girl he loved and lost,
emerges as an emblem for romantic yearning, and the novel’s narrator, Nick Carroway,
brilliantly illuminates the post–World War I end to American innocence.

2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884). Hemingway proclaimed, “All

modern American literature comes from . . . ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ ” But one can read it simply
as a straightforward adventure story in which two comrades of conve nience, the parentally
abused rascal Huck and fugitive slave Jim, escape the laws and conventions of society on a
raft trip down the Mississippi. Alternatively, it’s a subversive satire in which Twain uses the
only superficially naïve Huck to comment bitingly on the evils of racial bigotry, religious
hypocrisy, and capitalist greed he observes in a host of other largely unsympathetic
characters. Huck’s climactic decision to “light out for the Territory ahead of the rest” rather
than submit to the starched standards of “civilization” reflects a uniquely American strain of
individualism and nonconformity stretching from Daniel Boone to Easy Rider.

3. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851). This sweeping saga of obsession, vanity, and
vengeance at sea can be read as a harrowing parable, a gripping adventure story, or a
semiscientific chronicle of the whaling industry. No matter, the book rewards patient readers
with some of fiction’s most memorable characters, from mad Captain Ahab to the titular
white whale that crippled him, from the honorable pagan Queequeg to our insightful
narrator/surrogate (“Call me”) Ishmael, to that hell-bent vessel itself, the Pequod.
4. The stories of Flannery O’Connor (1925–64). Full of violence, mordant comedy, and a
fierce Catholic vision that is bent on human salvation at any cost, Flannery O’Connor’s
stories are like no others. Bigots, intellectual snobs, shyster preachers, and crazed religious
seers —a full cavalcade of what critics came to call “grotesques”—careen through her tales,
and O’Connor gleefully displays the moral inadequacy of all of them. Twentieth-century
short stories often focus on tiny moments, but O’Connor’s stories, with their unswerving eye
for vanity and their profound sense of the sacred, feel immense.

5. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929). A modernist classic of Old South
decay, this novel circles the travails of the Compson family from four different narrative
perspectives. All are haunted by the figure of Caddy, the only daughter, whom Faulkner
described as “a beautiful and tragic little girl.” Surrounding the trials of the family itself are
the usual Faulkner suspects: alcoholism, suicide, racism, religion, money, and violence both
seen and unseen. In the experimental style of the book, Quentin Compson summarizes the
confused honor and tragedy that Faulkner relentlessly evokes: “theres a curse on us its not
our fault is it our fault.”

6. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner (1936). Weaving mythic tales of biblical

urgency with the experimental techniques of high modernism, Faulkner bridged the past and
future. This is the story of Thomas Sutpen, a rough-hewn striver who came to Mississippi in
1833 with a gang of wild slaves from Haiti to build a dynasty. Almost in reach, his dream is
undone by plagues of biblical (and Faulknerian) proportions: racism, incest, war, fratricide,
pride, and jealousy. Through the use of multiple narrators, Faulkner turns this gripping
Yoknapatawpha saga into a profound and dazzling meditation on truth, memory, history, and
literature itself.

7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960). Tomboy Scout and her brother Jem are
the children of the profoundly decent widower Atticus Finch, a small-town Alabama lawyer
defending a black man accused of raping a white woman. Although Tom Robinson’s trial is
the centerpiece of this Pulitzer Prize–winning novel —raising profound questions of race and
conscience —this is, at heart, a tale about the fears and mysteries of growing up, as the
children learn about bravery, empathy, and societal expectations through a series of evocative
set pieces that conjure the Depression-era South.

8. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952). This modernist novel follows the bizarre, often
surreal adventures of an unnamed narrator, a black man, whose identity becomes a
battleground in racially divided America. Expected to be submissive and obedient in the
South, he must decipher the often contradictory rules whites set for a black man’s behavior.
Traveling north to Harlem, he meets white leaders intent on controlling and manipulating
him. Desperate to seize control of his life, he imitates Dostoevsky’s underground man,
escaping down a manhole where he vows to remain until he can define himself. The book’s
famous last line, “Who knows, but that on the lower frequencies I speak for you,” suggests
how it transcends race to tell a universal story of the quest for self-determination.

9. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939). A powerful portrait of Depression-era

America, this gritty social novel follows the Joad family as they flee their farm in the
Oklahoma dust bowl for the promised land of California. While limping across a crippled
land, Ma and Pa Joad, their pregnant daughter Rose of Sharon, and their recently paroled son
Tom sleep in ramshackle Hoovervilles filled with other refugees and encounter hardship,
death, and deceit. While vividly capturing the plight of a nation, Steinbeck renders people
who have lost everything but their dignity.

10. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (1881). James’s Portrait is of that superior
creature Isabel Archer, an assured American girl who is determined to forge her destiny in the
drawing rooms of Europe. To this end, she weds the older and more cultivated Gilbert
Osmond, and eventually finds that she is less the author of her fate than she thought.
Throughout, James gives us a combination of careful psychological refraction and truly
diabolical plotting. The result is a book at once chilling and glorious.

French writers and journalists sometimes use a metaphor to designate the language of other
European countries. English is then the language of Shakespeare, German, the language of
Goethe, Italian the language of Dante or Dutch the language of Vondel. All these expressions
refer to national literature heroes, which have built the basis for national cultures and
histories. Europe is not the harmonization of all those cultural inheritance, but the full
recognition of this diversity into a common and rich patrimony. Most of the writers below are
thus not only of national importance, but also of European meaning to express what
humankind has done best on this continent.


Luís de Camões – Os Lusíadas

Os Lusíadas, translated in English as The Lusiads, is regarded as the best Portuguese piece of
literature. His writer Luís Vaz de Camões (c. 1524 – 1580) became the major figure of
Portuguese culture all over the world. Os Lusíadas is an epic and lyrical poetry in the vein of
Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey interpreting the Portuguese voyages of discovery during the 15th
and 16th centuries.


Miguel de Cervantes – Don Quixote

Miguel de Cervantes (1547 – 1616) left to Spanish culture its most prominent masterpiece, in
the name of Don Quixote. Fully entitled as The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La

Cervantes’ emblematic work of Western literature is considered as the first modern novel.
The story depicts an idealist dreamer who feels himself as a modern knight.


Molière – Tartuffe – L’Avare –Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme – L’école de femmes

Actually, there is not in the theater plays of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name
Molière (x – 1673), a major play more famous than another. The greatest master of comedy
in Western literature wrote 33 plays from which almost the half bears a peculiar influence on
French culture.


Hallgrímur Pétursson – Passíusálmar

The most influential work of literature in Iceland is without doubt the Passíusálmar,
translated in English as the Passion Hymns. Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614 – 1674), a famous
poet, priest and minister in Hvalfjörður, wrote a collection of 50 poetic texts exploring the
Passion narrative, from the point where Christ enters the Garden of Gethsemane to his death
and burial.


Thomas Moore – Irish Melodies

The poet, singer and songwriter Thomas Moore (1779 – 1852) is an Irish literature hero. He
composed the Irish Melodies containing the prominent song The Minstrel Boy and poem The
Last Rose of Summer. The song in particular became famous in Ireland, as it was sung during
the United States Civil War and the World War I


William Shakespeare – Hamlet – Othello – Macbeth – Romeo and Juliet

World’s most renowned dramatist William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) became England’s
national poet after the success of his renowned tragedies Hamlet, Othllo, Macbeth or even
more Romeo and Juliet. There are still a lot of controversies on his life and on the possibility
that some of his works were written by others.


Henrik Wergeland – Mennesket

After “Four Hundred Years of Darkness” according to Ibsen’s sentence, during which
Norway was a part of Denmark, the rebirth of Norwegian Literature was to be found in the
works of Henrik Wergeland (1808 – 1845), a poet known for his Magnum opus Mennesket
(meaning “Man”),who was remodeled from his previous work Skabelsen, Mennesket og
Messias (“Creation, Man and the Messiah”). This poem depicts the history of Man and God’s
plan for humanity, through the character of Stella, the embodiment of the writer’s ideal love.


Carl Michael Bellman – Fredmans epistlar – Fredmans sånger

Carl Michael Bellman (1740 – 1795) is certainly the most influential poet and composer of
Sweden. His main work is undoubtedly the Fredmans sånger (“Songs of Fredman”), a
collection of 65 poems and songs, and the Fredmans epistler (“Epistles of Fredman”). His
texts, often comical in their description of Stockholm, were always tackling the tragic
dimension of human being with topics such as drunkenness, prostitution, illness and death.


Johan Ludvig Runeberg – Fänrik Ståls sägner

The national poet of Finland Johan Ludvig Runeberg (1804 -1877) wrote in Swedish. His
main literature work Fänrik Ståls sägner (in English, “The Tales of Ensign Stål”) is regarded
as the greatest Finnish epic poem dealing with the Finnish War of 1808–09 with Russia. This
conflict resulted in the incorporation of the Grand Duchy of Finland into the Russian Empire.


Adam Oehlenschläger – Hakon Jarl Død

Adam Oehlenschläger (1779 – 1850) is a central figure of Danish literature and was crowned
in 1829 as the “King of Nordic poetry”. His masterpiece is certainly his first tragedy entitled
Hakon Jarl Død, who was the de facto ruler of Norway from about 975 to 995 . He is also the
writer of the Danish national anthem Der er et yndigt land.


Joost van den Vondel – Joannes de Boetgezant

The greatest Dutch poet and literature hero is to be found in the 17th century. Joost van den
Vondel (1587 – 1679) wrote many famous playwrights, such as Lucifer or Adam in
Ballingschap but his prominent writing was the epicJoannes de Boetgezant which tells the
history of John the Baptist. This play is still frequently performed.

10 Greatest Latin American Authors

1. Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia)

Everybody knows Gabriel Garcia Marquez – it’s hard not to. His most famous novel, One
Hundred Years of Solitude, came out in 1967 and left the whole world in awe. The novel
details the life of the Buendia family over seven generations and is claimed to be “the greatest
revelation in the Spanish language” since Don Quixote and “the first piece of literature since
the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race”, according to
The Guardian. And these two sound like statements that are hard to beat, aren’t they?

2. Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina)

Mainly a short-story writer, Borges was a key figure in the Spanish-language literature.
Educated in Switzerland, fluent in 5 languages, exceptionally well-traveled and impressively
intelligent, Borges became a published writer in 1920s when he finally returned to Argentina.
A poet, an essayist, a librarian and a public speaker, he was fast becoming famous — but also
gradually becoming blind, Already by his 50ies, Borges completely lost his eyesight. Which
was, as many critics suggest, exactly what helped the writer to come up with innovative
literary symbols since the only thing that was left for him was his imagination.

Considered one of the most famous Latin American authors of all time, Borges’ most notable
works include Fictions (1944), The Aleph (1949), and Labyrinths (1962), among others.

3. Pablo Neruda (Chile)

A poet, a diplomat and a politician, Neruda’s real name was actually Neftali Ricardo Reyes
Basoalto, whereas his pen name was borrowed from the Czech poet Jan Neruda, whom,
funnily enough, nobody is really aware of. Pablo Neruda became a known poet when he was
still a teenager. The work that earned him world recognition was Twenty Love Poems and a
Song of Despair, published in 1924 when he was just 20 years old. Gabriel Garcia Marques
called Neruda “the greatest poet of the 20th century — in any language”.

4. Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)

Vargas Llosa is considered as one of the leading writers of his generation and most
significant novelists in South America. He rose to fame in 1960 with his comedies, murder
mysteries, historical novels and political thrillers – his talent knows no limitations in literary
genre. Like many of his fellow Latin American authors, Mario Vargas Llosa has always been
interested in politics, and even ran for president of Peru in 1990. He was unsuccessful,
unfortunately — perhaps because he was too good of a writer?

5. Octavio Paz (Mexico)

Octavio Paz’ first introduction to the world of fiction happened in his early childhood: his
grandfather was the owner of a huge library filled with classic Mexican and European
literature. Just like Neruda, Paz became a published writer during his teenage years, so by his
early twenties he was already a recognized poet. And again, just like Neruda, his spark and
talent were used by the government for diplomatic purposes, which was the reason Paz spent
a lot of time abroad away from Mexico. Nevertheless, his homeland was always the
underlying motive of his works, which are now known as “the portrait of Mexican
personality” (according to his obituary in Americas).

6. Julio Cortázar (Argentina)

The “modern master of the short-story”, the “Simón Bolívar of the novel” – that’s how
Cortázar is typically referred to. Born in Belgium and burried in France, he was nevertheless
a true Argentinean at heart. Cortázar is known as one of the founders of the Latin
American Boom – the time in 1960s and 1970s when Latin American literature was
internationally renowned for the first time. His most famous novel is called Hopscotch (1963)
– an anti-novel that is to be read according to two different sequences of chapters.
7. Isabel Allende (Chile)

Even though Isabel Allende is Chilean, she was actually born in Lima, Peru, where her father
was working as a second secretary at the Chilean embassy at that time. When she was three
years old, her family moved back to Chile. There, Isabel made a successful career as a
journalist, but then had to leave to Venezuela in her early 20s when Augusto Pinochet
executed her uncle, Salvador Allende, and set up a dictatorship.

Allende’s real literary career began only at the age of 40, when she published The House of
the Spirits – a novel in the genre of magic realism that chronicles several generations of the
Trueba family and highlights the Pinochet dictatorship. Her book, for obvious reasons, was
often compared to One Hundred Years of Solitude by Marquez.

8. Miguel Asturias (Guatemala)

A native Guatemalan, it was ironically in Paris where Miguel Asturias discovered Mayan
mythology and got completely obsessed with it. He translated Popol Vuh, a sacred Mayan
text, into Spanish in 1924 and included indigenous motifs in many of his own works later on,
most famous of which is The Legends of Guatemala that highlights some of the Mayan

His most notable novel, however, is called El señor presidente (1946), known in English
as Mr. President, which had a very strong political implication and was directed against the
oppressive Guatemalan dictatorship.

9. Gabriela Mistral (Chile)

Unarguably, one of the greatest Latin American authors is Gabriela Mistral.

The first Latin American female writer (and so far, also the only one) to receive a Nobel
Prize in Literature, Gabriela Mistral was also a feminist, a diplomat and an educator. Fun
fact: Pablo Neruda was one of her students when she was working as Head at his school in a
small town of Temuco.

Mistral’s poetry is pierced with themes of love, betrayal, Latin American identity, and
sorrow. In fact, it was sorrow that pushed her to write poetry when her fiancé committed
suicide in 1909. Her first collection of poems, Sonnets of Death, came out in 1914 and were
marked with motifs of life and death that have never been discussed in Latin American
literature as profoundly before. For her strong influence and even stronger talent, Gabriela
Mistral is now the face of a 5,000 Chilean banknote.

10. Carlos Fuentes (Mexico)

Mexico’s most celebrated novelist, Carlos Fuentes is also “one of the most admired writers in
the Spanish-speaking world”, according to the New York Times. Born into a family of
diplomats in Panama City, Fuentes spent nearly every year of his childhood in different South
American capitals. From 1934 to 1940 he was even living in Washington D.C due to the
nature of work of his father – an experience that allowed him to view Latin America from an
outer, critical perspective.
As many, Fuentes decided to pursue career in diplomacy, but the plans changed when very
first novel of his, called Where The Air Is Clear, made him famous overnight. Fuentes,
therefore, left his position, became a full-time writer, and kept writing novels that were
equally successful (e.g. The Death of Artemio Cruz, Terra Nostra, The Old Gringo) and are
now translated into 24 languages.

1 Mariama Bâ

Born in Dakar, Senegal, in 1929, Bâ has come to be regarded as one of the most original
writers to have emerged from west Africa.Her life and work were preoccupied with issues
such as gender relations, power and inequality, as well as the ways in which these were
framed and affected by African and Islamic cultural beliefs. In many ways, her own narrative
corresponded with a key feminist mantra: “The personal is political.”Her early struggle for
education informed her writing, both fictional and critical.

Mariama Bâ

Her first novel, So Long a Letter (1981), uses the raw material of her own life to create a
narrative which, owing to its resonance with the experience of other African women, is
widely acknowledged as a seminal feminist text.She died before her second novel, Scarlet
Song (1986), was published.Since her death, academics and general readers alike have come
to appreciate the peculiar power and considerable contribution of Bâ’s writing, as well as her
political legacy.While she composed her work in French, it has been translated into many
different languages, and is read and studied worldwide.

Favourite text: So Long a Letter

2 Buchi Emecheta

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1944, Emecheta’s life and work has, in effect, set the stage for a
new generation of west African female writers, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie perhaps the most
high profile among them.Like Adichie, much of Emecheta’s fiction is drawn from her
diasporic experiences, having been educated in the former colonial centre of London before
making a life and home there.Emecheta’s early and heavily autobiographical novels, such as
In the Ditch (1972) and Second-Class Citizen (1974), are key black British texts, concerned
as they are with the struggles of Nigerian women and children to adapt to a home that is
foreign in more ways than one.

Buchi Emecheta

In addition to her work as a novelist, Emecheta is celebrated for her writing for children as
well as for a series of critical pieces.Like Chinua Achebe and Adichie, Emecheta has
provided a fictional exploration of the Biafran War in Destination Biafra (1982).As with Bâ
and Bessie Head, much of Emecheta’s most striking work, from The Slave Girl (1977) to The
Joys of Motherhood (1979), is preoccupied with the ways in which writing can function as a
mode of resistance within patriarchal and, therefore, often hostile cultures and contexts.As
such, a novel like the more recent The New Tribe (1999) supplements her oeuvre in
provocative ways.

Favourite text: The Joys of Motherhood

3 Bessie Head

Born in Pietermaritzburg in 1937, Head passed away in 1986. Since her death, the
significance and influence of her life and work has been brought more starkly into focus.She
is best known for three novels – When Rain Clouds Gather (1968), Maru (1971) and A
Question of Power (1974).As with the writing of Bâ and Emecheta, Head’s fiction is
preoccupied with the issues, struggles and questions that defined her own highly unique
narrative.One of her most pressing concerns was the relationship between racial identity and
notions of belonging, born as she was to a then “forbidden” union involving a black man and
Scottish woman.If much contemporary post-colonial fiction is dominated by themes of
hybridity and mixture, often framed in somewhat saccharine ways, Head’s experiences and
writing attend to the pain, sometimes even trauma, of being a mixed-race woman within a
predominantly patriarchal, racist society.But as with Bâ and Emecheta, the hope and beauty
of her work comes from the creation of a singular voice driven by her commitment to writing
as a form of correcting injustice and offering resistance.

Favourite text: A Question of Power

4 Ousmane Sembène

Born in Ziguinchor, southern Senegal, in 1923, Sembène is widely acknowledged as a

seminal figure in both African literature and film.As with Bâ, Emecheta, Nuruddin Farah,
Head, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Yvonne Vera, Sembène’s work, on both page and screen, is
centrally concerned with the cultural practices and political discourses surrounding the
female body in Africa.

Ousmane Sembène

Before his death in 2007, Sembène won critical acclaim for Moolaadé (2004), a film that
offers an uncompromising exploration of female circumcision.It was a suitably provocative
end to a life and career dedicated to the belief that art should play an interrogative,
consciousness-raising role.Alongside his scores of films, Sembène is probably best known for
his second novel, which translated from its original French into God’s Bits of Wood (1960),
as well as Xala, a novella written in 1973 that evolved into a film of the same name.In their
distinctive yet equally defiant ways, both texts attack political hypocrisy, whether colonial or
neocolonial, while also critiquing the excesses of an often violent patriarchal culture.For
readers and viewers on the African continent and beyond, Sembène’s achievements and
influence are enormous.

Favourite text: Xala

5 Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Born in Kamiriithu, Kenya, in 1938, Thiong’o is one of the most celebrated African
intellectuals and writers.He has enjoyed international acclaim as a novelist, essayist,
playwright, social commentator and activist.The experience of British colonialism and the
Mau Mau struggle for independence, as well as Kenya’s position in the neocolonial era
preoccupy much of Ngugi’s thought and writing.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o

He established himself with a series of novels published in the 1960s: Weep Not, Child
(1964), The River Between (1965) and A Grain of Wheat (1967).His combination of a
distinctive prose style with provocative subject matter would come to define other works now
considered canonical texts of African literature.These include Petals of Blood (1977), the
play Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want) (1977) and Caitani Mutharabaini
(1981), later translated into English as Devil on the Cross (1982).Volumes of essays and
reflections, such as Decolonising the Mind (1986), Penpoints, Gunpoints and Dreams (1998),
as well as his prison memoir, Detained (1981), have also been influential for generations of
readers and scholars alike.In 2004, he published his leviathan Gikuyu-language novel,
Murogi wa Kagogo, translated as Wizard of the Crow.

Favourite text: A Grain of Wheat

6 Nuruddin Farah

Born in Baidoa in what was Italian Somaliland in 1945, Farah has produced a series of
novels, plays, essays and journalistic reflections on his native Somalia.His first novel, From a
Crooked Rib (1970), established his concern with the particular struggles of women in the
Horn of Africa.This has only endured and intensified throughout his more than 40-year
career.To date, Farah has written three novelistic trilogies.

Nuruddin Farah

The first, Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship, comprising Sweet and Sour
Milk (1979), Sardines (1981) and Close Sesame (1983), offers a quasi-Orwellian portrait of
life under autocratic power.The second, Blood in the Sun, featuring Maps (1986), Gifts
(1992) and Secrets (1998), is set against the backdrop of civil conflict and famine in
Somalia.The most recent, Past Imperfect, made up of Links (2004), Knots (2007) and
Crossbones (2011), provides a fictional exploration of everything from the botched US-led
Operation Restore Hope to contemporary debates about international piracy.Based in Cape
Town, Farah has dedicated himself to telling stories about his homeland with a view to
disrupting some of the rather more reductive tendencies in both colonial discourse and the
contemporary media.He is widely tipped to add his name to the list of African Nobel prize-
winning writers.

Favourite text: Maps

7 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Born in Enugu, Nigeria, in 1977, Adichie has received popular and critical acclaim since the
publication of her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, in 2003.She is widely regarded as one of the
most important voices to have emerged in contemporary African literature and has been the
recipient of numerous prestigious awards.Adichie is often spoken of in the same breath as
Achebe, with many believing she has assumed his creative mantel.While meant as a form of
tribute, such comparisons run the risk of deflecting attention from the singularity of Adichie’s
authorial voice and vision.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

With the publication of Half of a Yellow Sun in 2006, for instance, she explored the Biafran
War that was so central to Achebe’s literary project, among many others.But there is no sense
in which the novel is imitative, with its commercial and critical success confirming Adichie’s
unique presence on the global literary stage.As an author who divides her time between
Nigeria and the US, she has drawn on her own experiences in a collection of short stories
titled The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), as well as her most recent novel, Americanah
(2013).On the basis of her achievements to date, many predict Adichie’s status and profile
will continue to grow.

Favourite text: Half of a Yellow Sun

8 Ayi Kwei Armah

Born in Takoradi, Ghana, in 1939, Armah is widely considered one of the most important
African writers to have emerged in the post-colonial period.Educated at Harvard, Armah has
worked as a translator and scriptwriter, in addition to his activities as a novelist.His first
book, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born (1968), has achieved something approaching
canonical status in Anglophone African literature.With strong echoes of the French
existential tradition associated with Sartre and Camus, the novel is often presented as an
exemplar of the literature of disillusionment.

Ayi Kwei Armah

It centres on a character trying to make sense of his life, as well as that of the nation,
following what can be seen as the betrayal of Ghana’s independence dreams.A critique of a
system overrun by nepotism and corruption, the novel still packs a punch almost 50 years
on.While Armah’s vision seems dominated by the grim and grimy, glimmers of hope for an
alternative future, for both the protagonist and the nation, do exist.As such, arguably the most
telling part of the title is “not yet”.Armah followed The Beautyful Ones with Fragments
(1970), Why Are We So Blest? (1972), Two Thousand Seasons (1973), The Healers (1978),
Osiris Rising (1995) and The Eloquence of the Scribes (2006).In so doing, he has secured his
position as one of the most prominent and distinctive African writers.

Favourite text: The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born

9 Yvonne Vera

Born in 1964 in Bulawayo in what was then Southern Rhodesia, Vera’s life was cut tragically
short when, in 2005, she died of meningitis aged just 40.She has come to be regarded as one
of the most important sub-Saharan female novelists to have emerged in recent decades.Her
career began in earnest during her time as a student in Toronto, Canada, where she published
pieces in a local magazine.This would prove the catalyst for a short story collection, Why
Don’t You Carve Other Animals (1993), as well as a series of novels.

Yvonne Vera
These include Nehanda (1993), Without a Name (1994), Under the Tongue (1996), Butterfly
Burning (1998) and The Stone Virgins (2002).Vera returned to Zimbabwe in 1995, and was a
source of great inspiration and support to many up-and-coming artists in her role as regional
director of the national gallery in Bulawayo from 1997 to 2003.That Vera was working on a
new novel, Obedience, when she died shows her commitment to her work even in the most
debilitating of circumstances.Her work is intimately concerned with the politics of the female
body, in relation to such traumatising experiences as infanticide, rape and abortion, seen in
terms of wider issues concerning the Zimbabwean body politic.

Favourite text: Butterfly Burning

10 Wole Soyinka

Born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, in 1934, Soyinka’s career has spanned many genres – from his
work as a playwright, poet, novelist and essayist – and many guises, including regular
appointments as visiting professor at several top universities around the world.

Wole Soyinka

He won the Nobel prize in literature in 1986 and is often spoken of in the company of Achebe
and Ngugi.Like his fellow Nigerian, Soyinka was outspoken on the subject of the Biafran
War, calling for a cease-fire in 1967.He was subsequently imprisoned for just under two
years, a period he recounts in his memoir, The Man Died: Prison Notes (1972).Throughout a
more than 50-year career, Soyinka has produced scores of novels, poems and plays. Some of
his best-known work includes the plays The Trial of Brother Jero (1963), A Dance of the
Forests (1963), Death and the King’s Horseman (1975) and A Play of Giants (1984), as well
as the novels The Interpreters (1965) and Season of Anomy (1973).Collections of his poetry
include Poems from Prison (1969), A Shuttle in the Crypt (1972) and Mandela’s Earth and
Other Poems (1988).


Her novel The Secret River broke ground in covering the treatment of Indigenous Australians
in the time when white settlers arrived from Europe and took over their land. The book
sparked criticism from some historians but received a positive response from many
Aboriginal people. Grenville went on to win several literary awards and was shortlisted for
the Man Booker Prize. Grenville wrote 14 other novels after her success with The Secret
River, including some guides on learning how to write a novel.


Although he was born in South Africa, most of Courtenay’s novels are set in his adopted
country of Australia. His first novel, The Power of One, rapidly became one of Australia’s
best-selling books by a living author. He was among Australia’s most beloved authors
because of the connection he forged with his readers. He gave away over 2,500 books a year
to people on the street. His novel Jessica is a heart-wrenching tale, and epic love story, of a
girl in outback Australia and the events that follow.

Born in the rugged Western Australian town of Karrinyup, Tim Winton forged a unique
literary career for himself by writing books that illustrate Australian life and landscape, most
commonly set in his native west coast. He wrote his first novel while still in university, but it
wasn’t until Cloudstreet was published in 1991 that his career really took off. His novel
Breath perfectly captures the coastal life of two young Australian teenagers in the seventies,
their love of surfing and how they push the boundaries of courage and recklessness to find
release from their otherwise unremarkable lives.


Garner appeared on the literary scene at the time where Australian writers were still a
minority, and Australian women writers even rarer. Regarded as a feminist, and a realist,
Garner’s novels have been described to elicit strong feelings. She grounds her work in
Australia, telling her audience ‘I understand Australia. I fit in here.’ Her trademark theme is
of obsession, especially in regard to love and sexuality.


No Australian author has a grasp on the psyche of a teenage Italian-Australian quite like
Marchetta. Her first novel Looking for Alibrandi told the tale of a teenage Italian-Australian
girl at a snobby all-girls school and her struggle to fit in with both of her cultural identities.
While Marchetta wrote three other young adult novels exploring the same psyche, she
released her first U.K.-based crime novel in 2016, which was received with glowing reviews.


Ask any Australian about their most beloved books as a child and Possum Magic is bound to
arise. Mem Fox wrote the famous Australian novel in 1978; it follows the story of two
possums travelling through Australia and the wacky native Australian animals they come
across in the bush. Her most recent book, I’m Australian Too, is a children’s book celebrating
Australia’s diverse and multicultural population. She’s a staple to every Aussie primary
school classroom, and Possum Magic remains in print 35 years after it was first published.


Although he’s been described as the ‘great novelist of our generation’, Richard Flanagan
didn’t step into the spotlight until The Narrow Road to the Dark North was published in
2013. The novel tells the stories of prisoners of war in the Japanese labour camps on the
Thai-Burma railway and won the Man Booker Prize in 2014. His books are set in the scene of
Australia’s rich history, with Flanagan’s own forefathers migrating to Australia as convicts.
He has single-handedly brought literary recognition to the tiny state of Tasmania.


Although he’s been described as the ‘great novelist of our generation’, Richard Flanagan
didn’t step into the spotlight until The Narrow Road to the Dark North was published in
2013. The novel tells the stories of prisoners of war in the Japanese labour camps on the
Thai-Burma railway and won the Man Booker Prize in 2014. His books are set in the scene of
Australia’s rich history, with Flanagan’s own forefathers migrating to Australia as convicts.
He has single-handedly brought literary recognition to the tiny state of Tasmania.


Australia’s most renowned thriller writer, Reilly takes his rightful place next to authors such
as Lee Child and Stephen King. His novels are fast-paced, action-filled and intellectually
twisting. While he was young, when he first started out, his writing – much like fine wine –
has only improved with time, with three of his novels being the biggest-selling Australian
titles of their year.


An oldie, but a goodie. Andrew Barton Banjo Paterson is the author of that dusty book you
pick up in op-shops and secondhand bookstores, smiling when you read the words. He was a
journalist and author but, first and foremost, a bush poet. He wrote ballads and poems about
the simplicity and beauty of life in the Australian outback. His most well known poem is the
iconic Waltzing Matilda. He also wrote The Man from Snowy River, which tells the tale of a
brave pioneer who chases down a mob of brumbies to rescue a prizewinning racehorse.


Submitted To:
Ms. Analyn Areola
Submitted By:
Jackelyn C. Pedro
!2- Maxwell