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Helon Habila's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Helon Habila recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Helon Habila's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Home and Exile

More personally revealing than anything Achebe has written, Home and Exile--the great Nigerian novelist's first book in more than ten years-is a major statement on the importance of stories as real sources of power, especially for those whose stories have traditionally been told by outsiders.

In three elegant essays, Achebe seeks to rescue African culture from narratives written about it by Europeans. Looking through the prism of his experiences as a student in English schools in Nigeria, he provides devastating examples of European cultural imperialism. He examines the...
Recommended by Helon Habila, and 1 others.

Helon HabilaHe is a brilliant narrator. He can say anything and he will captivate you and you will listen. He is a great performer. Here he is writing about the confrontation between Western culture and the traditional culture and he gives you a historical framework in these essays – but he does it in a very personal way. One of the titles of the essays is ‘My Home under Imperial Fire’ where he talks about... (Source)

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Dangerous Love

In the communal world of the compound in which he lives, Omovo has many friends and some enemies, but most important of all there is Ifeyiwa, a beautiful young married woman who he loves with an almost hopeless passion - not because she doesn't return his love, but because they can never be together. less
Recommended by Helon Habila, and 1 others.

Helon HabilaActually, this is the second manifestation of this particular story. He first wrote this story under the title Landscapes Within, his second novel, in 1981. Then he rewrote it as Dangerous Love in the 1990s after he had won the Booker Prize. He said after the first version he continued to feel haunted by the story, by the feeling that the book wasn’t complete. And I think he actually manages to... (Source)

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The Years of Childhood

A dazzling memoir of an African childhood from Nobel Prize-winning Nigerian novelist, playwright, and poet Wole Soyinka.

"Aké: The Years of Childhood" gives us the story of Soyinka's boyhood before and during World War II in a Yoruba village in western Nigeria called Aké. A relentlessly curious child who loved books and getting into trouble, Soyinka grew up on a parsonage compound, raised by Christian parents and by a grandfather who introduced him to Yoruba spiritual traditions. His vivid evocation of the colorful sights, sounds, and aromas of the world that shaped him is both...
Recommended by Helon Habila, and 1 others.

Helon HabilaThis is one of Wole Soyinka’s earlier memoirs. He chose a moment in his childhood, from when he was four to when he was 11 and he represented that. He wrote in the voice of an adult – Wole Soyinka, and he was able to capture the magic of childhood and his growing up and the complexity that he faced in a changing culture, the emerging Western culture encroaching on the traditional African culture.... (Source)

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A Month and a Day

A Detention Diary

In May 1994, Ken Saro-Wiwa, together with eight others, was arrested in Nigeria for the murder of four men who had been killed during a riot following a political rally. Though there was overwhelming evidence of his innocence, Saro-Wiwa was imprisoned for eighteen months. He and his co-defendants were eventually found guilty in a show trial and sentenced to be hanged. Despite massive international publicity and outcries against the mockery of justice these acts represented, on November 10, 1995, the executions were carried out.

A Month & A Day is the moving last memoir of the...
Recommended by Helon Habila, and 1 others.

Helon HabilaWell, he was arrested by the military government for what they called his part in electoral disturbances. But the beauty of the book is that after the opening section, the introductory moment where he was arrested, the book takes you back into the history of his involvement with the pro democracy movement and with his role in setting up the movement for the survival of the Ogoni people (MOSOP).... (Source)

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THINGS FALL APART tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo's fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.

The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo's world...

Barack ObamaAs 2018 draws to a close, I’m continuing a favorite tradition of mine and sharing my year-end lists. It gives me a moment to pause and reflect on the year through the books I found most thought-provoking, inspiring, or just plain loved. It also gives me a chance to highlight talented authors – some who are household names and others who you may not have heard of before. Here’s my best of 2018... (Source)

Jacqueline NovogratzThe first book I read by an African author. Achebe is unflinching in his portrayal of the challenges of change, the relationships of colonialism, and power/powerlessness. (Source)

Sam KileyI think what’s so fantastic about it is that it’s sort of portentous, if that’s the right word, in that it captures that moment between the end of colonisation and independence, and the inevitable crushing of Africa’s dreams. I can’t remember exactly when it was written, but it was very early on in the process. It sounds really pessimistic – I mean, it’s a beautifully written book, but it’s the... (Source)

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