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Reading Takes You Places: Week 5 - Nigeria and other African Countries

Posted: July 8, 2020, 2:30PM

Where do you want to go this summer? This week we're heading to Nigeria!

This week we are visiting Nigeria for summer reading!

Kedu! Nnabata to week 5. On July 9, Father Alfred Obiudu will lead his People's University class 3,000 miles southwest (and a century back in time) to the African nation of Nigeria through the works of Chinua Achebe, best known for the 1958 novel, Things Fall Apart. The chronicle of pre-colonial life in Nigeria through the arrival of Europeans during the late 19th century is perhaps the most celebrated novel of Africa. Hailing from Nigeria himself, and once assigned to St. Michael's Parish here in Wheeling, Father Obiudu is now a priest at St. Leo’s Parish in Inwood, WV. He will also help attendees to explore Nigerian language, Igbo.

Watch this People's University Online live, July 9 at 6:30 pm on YouTube, Facebook, or the OCPL website. The program will also be recorded and available for playback through all three platforms. 

Have kids? Don't miss our online Summer Reading programs

Featured Nigerian Literature

Author: Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart book coverThings Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart
 is the first of three novels in Chinua Achebe's critically acclaimed African Trilogy. It is a classic narrative about Africa's cataclysmic encounter with Europe as it establishes a colonial presence on the continent. Told through the fictional experiences of Okonkwo, a wealthy and fearless Igbo warrior of Umuofia in the late 1800s, Things Fall Apart explores one man's futile resistance to the devaluing of his Igbo traditions by British political and religious forces and his despair as his community capitulates to the powerful new order.

Reserve for Curbside pickup at Library
Regular print

Reserve digital copy through WVDeli
ebook and audiobook available

Arrow of God book coverArrow of God
When Things Fall Apart ends, colonial rule has been introduced to Umuofia, and the character of the nation, its values, freedoms, religious and socio-political foundations have substantially and irrevocably been altered. Set in 1920s colonial Nigeria, book two in Achebe's African Trilogy, Arrow of God, moves the historical narrative forward. Ezeulu, the chief priest of Ulu, has rivals in the tribe, in the white government and even in his own family. Surrounded by trouble, he adopts an increasingly cosmic view of events - surely in the battle of the dieties, he is merely an arrow in the bow of his God?

Reserve for Curbside pickup at Library
Regular print

No Longer at Ease book coverNo Longer at Ease
When Obi Okonkwo, grandson of Okonkwo, the main character in Things Fall Apart returns to Nigeria from England in the 1950s, his foreign education separates him from his African roots. No Longer at Ease, the third and concluding novel in Chinua Achebe’s The African Trilogy, depicts the uncertainties that beset the nation of Nigeria, as independence from colonial rule loomed near. In Obi Okonkwo’s experiences, the ambiguities, pitfalls, and temptations of a rapidly evolving society are revealed. He is part of a ruling Nigerian elite whose corruption he finds repugnant. His fate, however, overtakes him as he finds himself trapped between the expectation of his family, his village—both representations of the traditional world of his ancestors—and the colonial world.  A story of a man lost in cultural limbo, and a nation entering a new age of disillusionment, No Longer at Ease is a powerful metaphor for his generation of young Nigerians.

Reserve for Curbside pickup at Library
Regular print

Chinua AchebeOther Chinua Achebe books
Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930. He was the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University and, for more than 15 years, was the Charles P. Stevenson Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College. In 2007, Achebe was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for lifetime achievement. He died in 2013.

Reserve for Curbside pickup at Library

A Man of the People (1966)
Chike and the River (1966)
Anthills of the Savannah (1987)

Home and Exile (2000)
Collected Poems (2004)
The Education of a British-Protected Child: Essays (2009)
There was a Country: a personal history of Biafra (2012)

Chinua Achebe for kids

How the Leopard Got His Claws book coverHow the Leopard Got His Claws
In the beginning, all the animals lived as friends. Their leopard king was strong but gentle and wise. Only Dog had sharp teeth and lived as an outsider before attacking the leopard and taking over as king — until the angry leopard returned to regain his throne by force with his own threatening new claws. In a riveting fable for young readers about the potency and dangers of power taken by force,  Chinua Achebe evokes his frequent themes of liberation and justice that echo his seminal novels about post-colonial Africa.

Available to reserve for curbside pick-up at the Library

Interested in reading some great contemporary African literature?

Try some books from some of these authors:


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Author pictureBorn in Nigeria in 1977, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is part of a new generation of African writers taking the literary world by storm. Adichie’s works are primarily character-driven, interweaving the background of her native Nigeria and social and political events into the narrative. Her novel Purple Hibiscus (2003) is a bildungsroman, depicting the life experience of Kambili and her family during a military coup, while her latest work Americanah (2013) is an insightful portrayal of Nigerian immigrant life and race relations in America and the western world. Adichie’s works have been met with overwhelming praise and have been nominated for and won numerous awards, including the Orange Prize and Booker Prize.

Adichie works available to reserve for curbside pick-up at the Library
ebooks and audiobooks available through WVDeli
ebooks available through Hoopla

Ben Okri
Author photoBen Okri’s childhood was divided between England and time in his native Nigeria. His young experience greatly informed his future writing: his first, highly acclaimed novels Flowers and Shadows (1980) and The Landscapes Within (1981) were reflections on the devastation of the Nigerian civil war which Okri himself observed firsthand. His later novels met with equal praise: The Famished Road (1991), which tells the story of Azaro, a spirit child, is a fascinating blend of realism and depictions of the spirit world, and won the Booker Prize.

Orki works available to reserve for curbside pick-up at the Library
ebooks and audiobooks available through Hoopla


Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Author PhotoNgugi wa Thiong’o is one of Africa’s most important and influential postcolonial writers. He began his writing career with novels written in English, which nevertheless revolved around postcolonial themes of the individual and the community in Africa versus colonial powers and cultures. Wa Thiong’o was imprisoned without trial for over a year by the government for the staging of a politically controversial play; after his release, he committed to writing works only in his native Gikuyi and Swahili, citing language as a key tool for decolonizing the mindset and culture of African readers and writers.

Thiong'o books available to reserve for curbside pick-up at the Library
ebooks and audiobooks available through WVDeli
ebooks and audiobooks available through Hoopla


Nuruddin Farah
Author PhotBorn in Somalia in 1945, Nuruddin Farah has written numerous plays, novels and short stories, all of which revolve around his experiences of his native country. The title of his first novel From a Crooked Rib (1970) stems from a Somalian proverb “God created woman from a crooked rib, and anyone who trieth to straighten it, breaketh it”, and is a commentary on the sufferings of women in Somalian society through the narrative of a young woman trapped in an unhappy marriage. His subsequent works feature similar social criticism, dealing with themes of war and post-colonial identity.

Farah books available to reserve for curbside pick-up at the Library
ebooks available through Hoopla

Sierra Leone

Aminatta Forna
Author PhotoBorn in Glasgow but raised in Sierra Leone, Aminatta Forna first drew attention for her memoir The Devil That Danced on Water (2003), an extraordinarily brave account of her family’s experiences living in war-torn Sierra Leone, and in particular her father’s tragic fate as a political dissident. Forna has gone on to write several novels, each of them critically acclaimed: her work The Memory of Love (2010) juxtaposes personal stories of love and loss within the wider context of the devastation of the Sierre Leone civil war, and was nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Forna books available to reserve for curbside pick-up at the Library
ebooks available through Hoopla

Republic of Congo

Alain Mabanckou
Author PhotoOriginating from the Republic of Congo, Alain Mabanckou’s works are well known for their biting wit, sharp satire and insightful social commentary into both Africa and African immigrants in France. His novels are strikingly character-focused, often featuring ensemble casts of figures, such as his book Broken Glass, which focuses on a former Congolese teacher and his interactions with the locals in the bar he frequents, or his novel Black Bazar, which details the experiences of various African immigrants in an Afro-Cuban bar in Paris.

Mabanckou works available to reserve for curbside pick-up at the Library
ebooks available through Hoopla

South Africa

Nadine Gordimer
Author PhotoOne of the apartheid era’s most prolific writers, Nadine Gordimer’s works powerfully explore social, moral, and racial issues in a South Africa under apartheid rule. Despite winning a Nobel Prize in Literature for her prodigious skills in portraying a society interwoven with racial tensions, Gordimer’s most famous and controversial works were banned from South Africa for daring to speak out against the oppressive governmental structures of the time. Her novel Burger’s Daughter follows the struggles of a group of anti-apartheid activists, and was read in secret by Nelson Mandela during his time on Robben Island.

Gordimer works available to reserve for curbside pick-up at the Library
ebook available through WVDeli
audiobooks available through Hoopla

Have you read some great world literature you'd like to share?

Tell us what you've been reading in the comments below!

And don't forget to join our online Summer Reading Challenge, "Reading Takes You Places." Each minute you read between now and August 15th will count as one mile. We'll be keeping track of countries visited in books and miles (in minutes) read through an online platform. Want to participate? Starting June 15, 2020 sign up online at or download the READsquared app at the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Find even more suggested books in the Adult Summer Reading Book List in READSquared. Let us know where you've traveled and how far this summer through books!


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