Exceptionally written books can open up your mind to a colourful world free from stress and panic. Whether to fill up a study break or for some holiday reading after exams, Perdeby has compiled a list of compelling books to unwind.
Love Story, Erich Segal
Erich Segal’s 1970 novel is a timeless (and very short) romance novel. It is a tale of two American university students from different worlds who fall in love. Jenny and Ollie get married soon after graduation but have a tumultuous relationship due to financial problems. Later on, after struggling to conceive, Ollie discovers that Jenny has leukaemia. Following the advice of a doctor, Ollie does not tell Jenny of her sickness.
Love Story has had great influence on film, particularly Bollywood cinema. Popular Hindi films such Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se and Sanam Teri Kasam were based on it.
We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo
In We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo hilariously narrates Darling’s childhood antics with her friends Stina, Godknows, Bastard and Chipo in the first part of the novel. The clan has mischievous adventures such as daydreaming of faraway lands such as Dubai and stealing guavas in Budapest, a wealthy suburb. Darling is raised in a Zimbabwean shanty town called Paradise which is riddled by violence, death and sickness. The reader is able catch a glimpse of the tense socio-political climate of the country through a child’s eyes.
This coming-of-age novel soon progresses to Darling’s Detroit USA migration to live with her aunt and her family. There, in her teens, Darling struggles with issues of displacement. She is forced to come to terms with her identity as a black African female whose culture differs with the American one she is confronted with.
Touch My Blood, Fred Khumalo
Touch My Blood is Fred Khumalo’s autobiography. In the typical style of this renowned South African journalist, the book is written in a poignant and humorous way. It details his outlandish fashion choices such as participating in the “American Dudes” trend, popular for its bright colours. Touch My Blood also tells of his tertiary years studying journalism, sharing a commune with white people in pre-apartheid South Africa.
The autobiography explores sad and intimate moments of Khumalo’s life, such as when a close friend died in his arms due to the violence which rocked KwaZulu-Natal in the 1980s.
Jungfrau and Other Short Stories: Caine Prize for African Writing 2007
To explore a myriad of African cultures and identities in one book, The Caine Prize for African Writing offers short story collections. Apart from South Africa, the 7th edition has tales from countries such as Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Mauritius. Nigerian author and playwright Sefi Atta’s thrilling story The Last Trip follows a drug mule’s arduous journey with her special needs child, Dara, by her side.
Photo: Ciske van den Heever