My admiration and fixation with African literature was instigated by my sister, who studied abroad for a semester at a university in Kenya (when she told this one woman she was going to Kenya, the lady replied, "Oh I so admire people who go over there to do charity work!" And my sister corrected her with, "No, I'm going there to study…" Just in that simple exchange is a microcosm of how uneducated we Americans are about Africa and the many countries, cultures, economies, and influential people occupying the continent).
My sister was the one who first recommended Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I know Adichie has finally received the limelight she deserves in the past year, but people's praises shouldn't come from Beyoncé's say-so; they should come from her talent. I've followed her development as a writer for some time because I like her style, storytelling abilities, and careful dialogue. Her lyrical, heart wrenching debut novel Purple Hibiscus brought me to tears, but not as much as her portrayal of the Biafran War (another history lesson glazed over by US schools) in Half of a Yellow Sun. So yes, those are must-reads, but my official recommendation is a book I just finished - and no, it's not a small press book, and it has already been reviewed by some big wigs, but I'm going to recommend it anyway because African literature itself is underrepresented: