Below are some books and articles that I’ve read and found really interesting. All of them are in some way relevant to either travel or Africa, and they’re all snappily written. I’m suggesting them because I think they’re worth checking out.
Ivan Illich: To Hell With Good Intentions
I think this is one of the best speeches ever given. Ilich talks about the responsibilities incumbent upon young Americans who choose to work in developing countries, and comes to a surprising conclusion.
Stavins & Ellison: Reclaiming Travel
A terrific article. The authors consider why humans have been compulsively peripatetic for millennia, and conclude by talking about the differences between tourism and travel.
Binyavanga Wainana: Ships High in Transit
A short story by a young Kenyan author. Really well written, talks about how Africans see Westerners and how Westerners see Africans.
How to Write About Africa
As brief as it is scathing. Also by Wainana, this piece talks about tropes in African writing. I like it cuz I need guidelines.
Giles Foden: The Last King of Scotland
Really, this is one of my favorite books. Foden’s novel traces the rise and fall of Idi Amin, and focuses on a (fictional?) Scottish doctor who got pulled into his inner circle. This book is astoundingly well written and gives a window into the life of one of Africa’s most fascinating dictators.
John Updike: The Coup
This ain’t the same Updike who wrote the Rabbit novels we know and love. This dark and critical novel follows a coup in a fictional African country, and the deposition of the despotic yet thoughtful Colonel Elleloû. It’s like Chinua Achebe mixed with Paul Bowles.
Banerjee & DuFlo: Poor Economics
These two economists turn a psychological/behavioral lens on problems that have stumped proponents of pro-poor economic development for decades. Their research is rigorous, their writing is clear, and the questions they pose are interesting. Why do poor families splurge on expensive, non-nutritious food? Why don’t individuals who are given malaria nets sleep under them?