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African Novels in the Classroom

Margaret Jean Hay, editor
ISBN: 978-1-55587-853-5
ISBN: 978-1-55587-878-8
2000/314 pages/LC: 00-022780
"This is a much-needed contribution.... Hay's African Novels in the Classroom will help energize the reader's commitment to teaching about Africa. And that is perhaps the highest praise I can give any pedagogical text."—Kevin C. Dunn, Journal of Third World Studies

"A wonderfully practical, even inspiring, book for Africanist teachers at the undergraduate level."—Jan Bender Shetler, International Journal of African Studies

"Teachers have discovered that African novels are treasure troves, rich in precisely the kind of cultural narratives that resonate with today's students.... Jean Hay's collection comes at the right moment in this reconfiguring of African studies pedagogy.... The contributors are excellent."—Kennell Jackson, African Studies Review

"It is a pleasure to look over the work of these US-based teachers who include African material in their classes, and who are willing to lend their various expertises to the promotion of a literature that is foreign to many of them.... their deft, compact, thematic explorations of these novels constitute a welcome change from the traditional approaches."—Ode S. Ogede, Research in African Literatures

"Hay has edited nothing short of an instantly invaluable resource for teachers of African studies.... perhaps the most useful resource I have found for teachers of African literature and African studies at the college level."—Donald E. Landrum, MultiCultural Review

"Recommended for undergraduate and graduate libraries alike, as well as for secondary school collections."—Choice


Some of the best college teachers have found novels to be extremely effective assignments in courses addressing various aspects of African studies. Here, two dozen of those teachers describe their favorite African novels—drawn from all over the continent—and share their experiences in using them in the classroom.

Each contributor discusses why a particular novel works well with students and what specific topics it addresses. Information provided in each case includes: details about the course in which the novel is used, the plot line and major characters, the historical and social context of the novel and how that fits into the writer’s life and literary production, course assignments and suggestions for further study, topics that enlivene class discussion, and any problems the students have encountered.

Indexes listing the novels by region and by theme further enhance the usefulness of this practical resource, which is a perfect companion to Great Ideas for Teaching About Africa (edited by Misty Bastian and Jane Parpart, 1999).


Margaret Jean Hay's publications include African Women South of the Sahara (coedited with Sharon Stichter) and African Women and the Law: Historical Perspectives (coedited with Marcia Wright).


  • Introduction—M.J. Hay.
  • Peter Abrahams'sA Wreath for Udomo—R. Rathbone.
  • Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart—M.A. Klein.
  • Ayi Kwei Armah's The Beautyul Ones Are Not Yet Born—E. Akyeampong.
  • Mariama Bâ's So Long a Letter—J.A. Pritchett.
  • Driss Chraïbi's Mother Comes of Age—J. Spleth.
  • Lindsey Collen's The Rape of Sita—B.B. Mack.
  • Maryse Condé's Segu—J. Bowman.
  • Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions—B. Bravman and M. Montgomery.
  • Modikwe Dikobe's The Marabi Dance—I. Berger.
  • Buchi Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood—M.L. Bastian.
  • Buchi Emecheta's The Slave Girl—K. Sheldon.
  • Nuruddin Farah's Gifts—L. Kapteijns.
  • Elsa Joubert's Poppie Nongena—J. Penvenne.
  • J. Nozipo Nkosama Maraire's Zenzele—K.R. Keim.
  • Meja Mwangi's Going Down River Road—C. Ambler.
  • Ngugi wa Thiong'o's A Grain of Wheat—M.J. Hay.
  • D.T. Niane's Sundiata—C.A. Keim.
  • Flora Nwapa's Efuru—S.E. Greene.
  • Ferdinand Oyono's Houseboy—B.M. Cooper.
  • Tayeb Salih's, Season of Migration to the North—F. Topan.
  • Ousmane Sembene's God's Bits of Wood—D.D. Cordell.
  • Wole Soyinka's Ake: The Year's Ahead—T. Giles-Vernick.
  • Moyez G. Vassanji's The Gunny Sack—J. Monson.
  • Paul Tiyambe Zeleza's, Smouldering Charcoal—M. E. Page.
  • Appendixes: Novels by Region. Novels by Principal Theme.
No exam copies available.