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African Modernism: A Reading List The Literature of African Modernism Worth Exploring

Written by Jade Munslow Ong

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Jade Munslow Ong recognises the literary networks of African modernism, recommending some of the books to consider for those who are new to this genre of writing.

Academic and New Generation Thinker Jade Munslow Ong joined Bristol Ideas recently to discuss modernism in an African context. She pointed to early South African modernists like Olive Schreiner to explore the genre’s origins and explained why – and how – modernism has persisted as a form in other parts of the world long after Europe’s defined era.

She has put together a reading list for those interested in the African modernist genre of literature, spanning well over a century. From Olive Schreiner’s The Story of an African Farm – believed to be on the of the first early feminist novels – to Damon Galgut’s The Promise – the winner of the 2021 Booker Prize – Jade Munslow Ong’s choices capture the essence of African modernism and its wide and varied scope.

African Modernist Literature: A Reading List

Olive Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm

Solomon Plaatje, Mhudi

William Plomer, Turbott Wolfe

Roy Campbell, The Flaming Terrapin; Adamastor; The Georgiad

HIE Dhlomo, The Girl Who Killed to Save; Valley of a Thousand Hills: A Poem

JM Coetzee, In the Heart of the Country

Bessie Head, Maru; A Question of Power

Lewis Nkosi, Mating Birds

Nadine Gordimer, Get a Life

Zoe Wicomb, David’s Story

Damon Galgut, The Promise

Jade Munslow Ong joined Bristol Ideas to discuss about the ongoing persistence of African modernism – and why many more recent authors such as JM Coetzee and Damon Galgut could still be considered modernist in their approach.

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