As a professor of literature I am always looking for good novels for my own personal reading but also, more importantly, novels that I can include in my courses. I teach Postcolonial literature. Postcolonial literature, to put simply, includes works by authors who either reside in any of the former European colonies or are originally from the former colonies but now live in the West as part of the diaspora. Furthermore, in a Postcolonial studies course the practice is not only to read or discuss the novels but to use the novels as springboards in learning the cultures and countries that they represent. Thus, for me a useful novel is always the one that attempts to represent some aspect of its primary culture while also dwelling on the global and local issues that impact the lives of characters in the story.
Over my career, I have read hundreds of novels, so to distill it to ten out of so many is sort of an impossible task. The list below is not ordered but contains ten of my favorite novels.
Efuru by Flora Nwapa
Set in Nigeria
Devil on the Cross by Nugu wa Thiong ‘o
Set in Kenya
Time and the River by Zee Edgell
Set in Belize
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Set in Indian state of Kerala
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Set in Jamaica and England, this novel tells the story of Bertha Mason from Jane Eyre.
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
Set in India.
Hayati: My Life by Miriam Cooke
Story of Palestinian women’s lives.
The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh
Set in India and Bangladesh
River of Fire by Qurratulain Hyder
Set in India
Abeng by Michelle Cliff
Set in Jamaica