Once again, the month of March is here! Ghana gained independence in March, so I like to dedicate this month to celebrating Ghanaian writers and their work. In the African literature scene, Ghanaian writers and their books are seriously underrated. As a reader of Ghanaian heritage, I enjoy discovering new Ghanaian writers and learning about our pioneer writers. If we don’t celebrate our own, who will?

Last year on African Book Addict! we celebrated 75 Ghanaian writers and their books in a 3-part series. This year (more like this month), I’ll be in conversation with some of the writers highlighted in last year’s series!

This week, I chat with Michael Donkor – author of forthcoming novel Hold, which will be out this July in the UK and in the US, under the title Housegirl, in August. Donkor grew up in a Ghanaian household in West London and currently works as an English teacher. It’s taken about 10 years for his debut novel to find a publisher, so I’m very excited for Donkor and I hope Hold is nothing but a success when it’s finally out! Enjoy this fun book chat where Donkor talks about how fervent reading turned him into a writer, the inspirations for this female-centered novel, how he identifies as a writer and more!

(note – ‘MD’ represents Michael Donkor’s responses)


Check out the synopsis for Hold below:

A moving and unexpectedly funny exploration of friendship and family, shame and forgiveness, Michael Donkor’s debut novel follows three adolescent girls grappling with a shared experience: the joys and sorrows of growing up.

Belinda knows how to follow the rules. As a housegirl, she has learned the right way to polish water glasses, to wash and fold a hundred handkerchiefs, and to keep a tight lid on memories of the village she left behind when she came to Kumasi. Mary is still learning the rules. Eleven-years-old and irrepressible, the young housegirl-in-training is the little sister Belinda never had. Amma has had enough of the rules. A straight-A student at her exclusive London school, she has always been the pride of her Ghanaian parents―until now. Watching their once-confident teenager grow sullen and wayward, they decide that sensible Belinda is the shining example Amma needs.

So Belinda must leave Mary behind as she is summoned from Ghana to London, where she tries to impose order on her unsettling new world. As summer turns to autumn, Belinda and Amma are surprised to discover common ground. But when the cracks in their defenses open up, the secrets they have both been holding tightly threaten to seep out.

[Images via The Guardian]


  • How did you become an author? Has writing stories always been your dream?

MD: Reading was – and continues to be – my route into writing. I have always loved reading, always been fascinated by the way that the most skillful writers force me to reevaluate my sense of self, my beliefs and the possibilities of language. I wanted to write stories that had that kind of impact on readers … but this is, of course, no mean feat! So I read. And read. And read. I did a degree in English and a Masters in Creative Writing so I spent years considering how writers communicate big, difficult ideas with clarity and subtlety, with empathy and levity. And then I sat at my desk for the best part of a decade madly writing and rewriting Hold. While drafting the novel, I constantly sought guidance from people in the publishing industry and tried to figure out which of the wisdoms I was offered would help me to tell the story of Belinda, Mary and Amma most authentically.


  • Your debut – Hold, follows three young adolescent women between Ghana and London; as a male writer, what inspired you to write about women? Were there any challenges embodying the female characters?

MD: I suppose my primary inspiration for this ‘female-centred’ story came from my curiosity about the housegirls who cooked, cleaned and waited on me and my sisters when we visited Ghana as children. The housegirls were an intriguing and ubiquitous feature of these trips, but they were mostly silent, very deferential and I had very few opportunities to discover more about them. So, in some ways, writing Hold allowed me to think more deeply about how these girls – isolated from their families and working very hard – might have felt about the alienating place that they found themselves in.

Equally, I grew up in a very female-dominated household, surrounded by intelligent, complicated, kind, fascinating women: I wanted to write a novel which honoured and unpicked some of their brilliance and wit. I have spent years closely listening to my sisters, my mother and my wonderful female friends, hearing about the difficulties and joys they encounter as they navigate their way through the world, so I felt like I had a wealth of insights to draw on when creating Belinda, Amma and Mary’s stories.

In terms of other motivations, I think that there is still a worryingly patriarchal quality to many aspects of Ghanaian culture. At times female experience and achievement is overshadowed by a focus on male endeavour. I wanted to craft a story which redressed that bias a little!


  • Some writers dislike being ‘pigeon-holed’ and labeled as ‘African writer’ or ‘Black writer.’ How do you prefer to be identified as a writer?

MD: Yes, I do find these labels quite unhelpful! My blackness and my Africanness are integral parts of my identity and important elements of my writing, but they exist alongside other, equally important traits. For example, I’m very much a ‘London’ writer, and the character and quality of the city that I was born in and lived in all my life colours my prose hugely. I’m also a writer who is keen to depict and celebrate pop culture.

Additionally, I’m a writer interested in domestic spaces and how they shape personalities and relationships. I’m also a gay writer, and I’m an author who wants to use fiction to investigate the fraught intersections between class, gender, race and sexuality … so some might say that makes me a political writer to a certain extent … the list is endless! So I suppose the labels ‘black’ and ‘African’ are useful for giving a sense of some of my concerns, but they don’t actually address the full diversity of my literary interests. Ultimately, I think I’d like to be ‘identified’ as a writer who is trying to make exploratory, sensitive, funny, humane fiction.


  • Do you remember the first book you read by a Ghanaian writer? If so, what book was it and what were your impressions? After working on the #GHat60 project last year, I was amazed at the great number of Ghanaian writers doing amazing work. How do you feel about the future of Ghanaian literature?

MD: I’ve always found Kofi Awoonor’s poetry magisterial and haunting. Last year I read Ama Ata Aidoo’s Changes and was impressed by the crispness and precision of her language, and the complicated friendship between Esi and Opokuya.

And I love Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing. It’s textured, profound – an absolute masterpiece. The scale of its ambition, its beautiful understanding of what people do to endure and survive great suffering … I cried bucketloads when reading it! Rather obsessively, I’ve now foisted it on all of my relatives!

But I’ve got lots to learn about other contemporary Ghanaian fiction, so I’m eager to hear your recommendations!

(all these Ghanaian writers were featured in the #GHat60 3-part series, last year)

  • What have you been reading and loving lately? And who are some of your favorite Black writers and influencers of your work?

MD: The Adulterants by Joe Dunthorne is currently on my bedside table. It is fantastic. It is hilarious. It is GREAT. Dunthorne’s observations are stingingly sharp. He is brilliant at exposing hypocrisies, contradictions and delusions, and his descriptions of London are so inventive; he has such a gift for creating similes that are both original and incredibly accurate in their comparisons.

More broadly, Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Toni Morrison are huge inspirations for me; because of the seriousness and commitment with which they undertake the business of making fiction and because of how – in their very, different different ways – they profoundly understand the transformative power of storytelling.


  • The book cover for Hold is stunning! Does the young woman on the book cover represent one of the core characters in the book? A lot of readers in Accra are excited for the release of your debut! Will the book be available in Ghana once it’s out? Any plans of launching the book in Accra?

MD: Jack Smyth – the designer at 4th Estate – has done a fantastic job with the cover. The gaze in the girl’s eyes is so wonderfully enigmatic. And I like the fact that this girl could ‘be’ Amma, Belinda or Mary; I like this possibility because it highlights the important parities and communalities between these three seemingly different girls.

I’m intending to visit Ghana early next year so I’d love to do reading in Accra then! I can’t wait to hear what Ghanaians make of the novel…


  • Finally, what would you like us to take away from Hold?

MD: A very difficult question indeed! I’m keen to avoid being too dictatorial about this sort of thing. Each reader should feel free to ‘take’ from the novel what seems most significant and compelling to them. My only hope is that Amma, Belinda and Mary feel sufficiently vivid, convincing and whole to readers because, when I wrote the novel, these three girls felt very alive to me.


Pre-order Hold on Amazon


Check out the 75 Ghanaian writers that were highlighted in last year’s 3-part series below:


Ghanaian Writers | Book Chat :: with Ayesha Harruna Attah

Once again, the month of March is here! Ghana gained independence in March (TODAY, March 6th 1957), so I like to dedicate this month to celebrating Ghanaian writers and their work. In the African literature scene, Ghanaian writers and their books are seriously underrated. As a reader of Ghanaian heritage, I enjoy discovering new Ghanaian writers and learning about our pioneer writers. If we don’t celebrate our own, who will?

Last year on African Book Addict! we celebrated 75 Ghanaian writers and their books in a 3-part series. This year (more like this month), I’ll be in conversation with some of the writers highlighted in last year’s series!

First up is Ayesha Harruna Attah – author of Harmattan Rain, Saturday’s Shadows and forthcoming The Hundred Wells of Salaga, which will be published by Cassava Republic Press in May! Enjoy this fun book chat where Ayesha talks about the inspirations for her forthcoming novel, the first book she read by a Ghanaian writer & the future of Ghanaian literature, the Black writers who influence her work and why we should indulge in The Hundred Wells of Salaga.

(note – ‘AHA’ represents Ayesha Harruna Attah’s responses)


Check out the synopsis for The Hundred Wells of Salaga below:

Aminah lives an idyllic life until she is brutally separated from her home and forced on a journey that turns her from a daydreamer into a resilient woman. Wurche, the willful daughter of a chief, is desperate to play an important role in her father’s court. These two women’s lives converge as infighting among Wurche’s people threatens to cleave the region, during the height of the slave trade at the end of the 19th century.

Set in pre-colonial Ghana, The Hundred Wells of Salaga is a story of courage, forgiveness, love and freedom. Through the experiences of Aminah and Wurche, it offers a remarkable view of slavery and how the scramble for Africa affected the lives of everyday people.


  • The Hundred Wells of Salaga is your 3rd forthcoming novel, congratulations on this achievement! When did you first get ideas on the story and how long did it take you to write the novel?

AHA: Thank you! About ten years ago, I found out that my great-great grandmother was enslaved. I wanted to know more. Who was she? Where had she come from? What were her desires before her dreams were snatched away? To unearth more, I made a trip to Salaga, in northern Ghana, where there was an infamous slave market. But I kept hitting walls – either people didn’t want to talk or they didn’t know enough. So in 2012, I decided to research how people ended up in Salaga and to also put my imagination to work. I officially started writing in 2014.


  • Did you learn anything about yourself while writing The Hundred Wells of Salaga?

AHA: I learned just how much I didn’t know about African history. For instance, it was a big surprise to me that in the 19th century in the Sokoto Caliphate, there were women teachers, jajis, who taught other women and they used poetry as a way of disseminating values.


  • While reading Harmattan Rain, I saw bits of my life reflected in Sugri’s character and in Saturday’s Shadows, Kojo’s character mirrored a lot of my life as well! How much of your personal life seeps into your stories?

AHA: I don’t consciously set out to put my lived experiences into my writing, but it would be almost impossible to divorce myself from my characters. Even if I were writing the vilest character on earth, it would be with my flavor and through my eyes. Of course, there are certain moments in life that are too good to keep to oneself and, those, I very intentionally put into my stories. For instance, the anecdote in Saturday’s Shadows, where a man cuts himself with a blade to prove he’s invincible—that was a real life scene I witnessed.


  • Do you remember the first book you read by a Ghanaian writer? If so, what book was it and how was the experience? After working on the #GHat60 project last year, I was amazed at the great number of Ghanaian writers doing amazing work. How do you feel about the future of Ghanaian literature?

AHA: I think it was The Anthill in the Sea, an illustrated poetry book by Atukwei Okai. I don’t even remember how old I was. Maybe seven. I loved it.

On the future of Ghanaian literature, there is so much potential and possibility brimming, which I find really exciting. I think the work the Writers Project of Ghana is doing is commendable and writers such as Ruby Goka, Nana Awere Damoah, Mohammed Naseehu Ali, Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Boakyewaa Glover give me hope for our generation of writers. What we desperately need are publishing houses with serious distribution networks.

(all these Ghanaian writers were featured in the #GHat60 3-part series, last year)


  • What have you been reading and loving lately? And who are some of your favorite Black writers and influencers of your work?

AHA: After almost a year and a half of new mummy duties, I have started reading again. Since January, I have read Akwaeke Emezi, JJ Bola, Ayobami Adebayo, all debut novelists and I have loved all their books.

I devour work by Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Bessie Head, Ama Ata Aidoo, Lucille Clifton, and of course, Ayi Kwei Armah, who gave me the push I needed to write my first novel.


  • Finally, why would you like readers to indulge in your forthcoming, The Hundred Wells of Salaga? What would you like us to take away from the story?

AHA: The involvement of Africans in the slave trade is a part of history that I feel hasn’t been confronted or dealt with enough. There were entire villages built in rocks to prevent slave raiders from attacking. It was a traumatic moment we suffered on the continent, and if trauma isn’t healed it manifests itself in disease, passiveness, self-harm… The list is endless. My impression is that most African countries do not want to deal with this past. Just recently, the world learned of slave auctions in Libya. I was ashamed and appalled that Ghanaians and Nigerians were involved, once again as middlemen. I hope that this book will wake us up to the role that we played in the slave trade, and begin us on the path of forgiveness and healing.


Pre-order The Hundred Wells of Salaga on Amazon


Check out my thoughts on Ayesha Harruna Attah’s novels:

Harmattan Rain  |  Saturday’s Shadows


Check out the 75 Ghanaian writers that were highlighted in last year’s 3-part series below:



Hey everyone!

I hope the month of February is treating everyone well. Over the weeks, I’ve been consuming great literature gems online. Below is a compilation of some of the LIT links I highly recommend you indulge in:


Raised by a single, independent mother, one young woman struggles with her familial inheritance and the relationship between self-sufficiency and social isolation.

(Image via Longreads via Klaus Vedfelt/Getty)

This isn’t the first time I’m mentioning Zoë’s name on this platform. In previous LIT Links posts, I highlighted her short story- Safe House, which was featured in AFREADA two years ago; she was also among the 75 Ghanaian writers highlighted in the GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books series, back in March.

Read My Secondhand Lonely and marvel at Zoë’s visceral, lucid writing. I hope she blesses us with a full novel or collection of short stories in the near future! Don’t be surprised when you see Zoë Gadegbeku’s name in lights soon.


  • AFREADA’s Valentine’s Day Short Story Collection – In case you’ve been living under a rock, AFREADA held a Valentine’s Day short story competition, where writers could submit love/romance-related stories for a chance to win £100! The competition is over now – as Valentine’s Day has passed (check out the winning story – HERE), but a bunch of the stories have been compiled into an ebook! Check out the breathtaking stories, for free – HERE.


  • Oldie but Goodie: Book review – African Love Stories: An Anthology edited by Ama Ata Aidoo. We’re still in the month of love! Two years ago, I reviewed this wonderful anthology on love stories, which was published in 2006. I gave the book 5 stars and encourage everyone to enjoy some love stories once in a while!


  •  Market FiftyFour is a new platform that publishes and markets affordable audio and e-books in African languages! Marthe van der Wolf and Melat G. Nigussie who are both Ethiopian, run Market FiftyFour.

Their first publication is entitled – Sheekadii Noloshayada (in English – The Story of Us), which is a a collection of short stories published in Somali by Hanna Ali. I recently had the opportunity to read the English version of the collection by Ali and I’m excited to review it soon. I look forward to the future projects Market FiftyFour will be publishing and hope more stories are from the Horn of Africa are published, as stories from that region of the continent aren’t really popular in the mainstream literary sphere!

(Image via Market FiftyFour)


  • Listen to episode 14 of The Sankofa Book Club, where I was joined Co-founder – Akua, to discussed their December book – Questions For Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo. The Sankofa Book Club was featured on this platform last year, and it’s still a popular post!

I had lots of fun recording with Akua over the Christmas break on this phenomenal poetry collection. I’ve spoken ad nauseam about this collection as it was the BEST book I read in 2017. If you’re still wondering whether you should purchase Questions For Ada, what are you waiting for? Enjoy the episode!

  • Libros Agency is an online bookstore and publishing agency based in Kenya, founded by Giovanni Patrick and Carly Gilbert. The aim of Libros Agency is ‘to have the unheard and unread stories of talented authors in the hands of  yearning readers.’ They have a good selection of books in their online bookstore, which delivers books digitally. Check them out if you want to enjoy the unread stories of talented writers!

(Image via Libros Agency)


  •  I hope Black History Month has been inspiring so far! If you’re active on social media (Twitter & Instagram), definitely follow the annual #ReadSoulLit photo challenge which was curated by Didi of Brown Girl Reading 4 years ago, with the aim of encouraging the love of books by African-American authors.

Check out Didi’s interview with Leslie Reese of blog – Folklore & Literacy, and read on how the #ReadSoulLit photo challenge begun and why it’s important. Its not too late to join the photo challenge- it’s running till the end of Black History Month!



Check out:

LIT Links Mélange ILIT Links Mélange II

LIT Links Mélange IIILIT Links Mélange IV

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Date Read: December 10th 2017

Published: February 2018

Publisher: Grove Press

Pages: 240




The Blurb

An extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater explores the surreal experience of having a fractured self. It centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born “with one foot on the other side.” Unsettling, heart-wrenching, dark, and powerful, Freshwater is a sharp evocation of a rare way of experiencing the world, one that illuminates how we all construct our identities.

Ada begins her life in the south of Nigeria as a troubled baby and a source of deep concern to her family. Her parents, Saul and Saachi, successfully prayed her into existence, but as she grows into a volatile and splintered child, it becomes clear that something went terribly awry. When Ada comes of age and moves to America for college, the group of selves within her grows in power and agency. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these alters—now protective, now hedonistic—move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dark and dangerous direction.

Narrated by the selves within Ada, and based in the author’s realities, Freshwater explores the metaphysics of identity and mental health, plunging the reader into the mystery of being and self. Freshwater dazzles with ferocious energy and serpentine grace, heralding the arrival of a fierce new literary voice.


Review –★★★★ (4 stars)

Freshwater by Igbo and Tamil writer – Akwaeke Emezi, has to be the most anticipated debut of 2018. I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) early December and devoured the book the weekend I received it. Even though Freshwater is highly anticipated worldwide, I’m curious and quite nervous to see how Nigerians and other African readers will take this novel.

If I had known this book was as evil, dark and sinful as it was, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to read it. But now that I’ve marinated the story in my mind for a while, I can confidently declare that Freshwater is SO MUCH MORE than it’s insane level of lust and blasphemy. Freshwater is a dark, layered tale based in and out of the spiritual realm, which focuses on how past traumas deeply affect one’s well-being and mental health.

Ada (she/they) – the main character, has many selves. The selves within Ada are different gods or spirits who are birthed during different phases and traumas of her/their life. These gods are almost like her/their alter egos and they sustain her/their human body through protective and destructive means. Multiple Personality Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, suicide, panic attacks, rape (this was VERY difficult to read), lust, violence, sex (A LOT OF IT; it was unbelievable), self-injury, love, religion, strained family relations, sisterhood, immigration, homosexuality and gender fluidity are all explored in this complex debut.

In the beginning, reading Freshwater was frustrating. The story didn’t seem to make sense to me because I didn’t know who was talking! There are many voices in this book and I wasn’t sure whether Ada, Asughara, Saint Vincent, brothersisters or Ala was speaking (these are all the names of the gods we encounter in the story). There’s a certain rhythm to this debut which will only make sense if the reader has an open mind and patience. Some parts of this book still don’t make sense to me and I feel some characters/gods didn’t need to be introduced at all. But all in all, my weekend was well spent indulging in this extraordinary tale, even though it felt sinful at times. I was very fond of Emezi’s writing style which is accessible, calculated and not overly embellished.

For me, the most fascinating thing about Freshwater is the juxtaposition between God of Christianity versus the gods of the dark world. Ada’s relationship with the two associations speak volumes on our (Africans/Black folks) relationship with religion and how it guides and/or controls our lives, whether it feels real or not… it’s hard to explain! I absolutely loved that Emezi explores the difficulties of loving and accepting oneself in this novel, through Ada’s character. As humans, we all have other selves within us – in the form of our blended temperaments, alter egos and moods; these are all explored in a scary, extreme way.

Freshwater is definitely not for everyone (for example: hardcore Christians who can’t appreciate the art of the imagination that God blessed writers with), especially with how difficult it was to read. The book is laden with triggering incidents and the storyline has a non-linear trajectory, which may be confusing to some readers. It takes work to understand this type of novel, whose genre isn’t even clearcut- I’d say Freshwater is a mix of sci-fi, mythicism, thriller and memoir, as parts of Emezi’s real life are part of the story. I don’t think there’s a book out there like this. Akwaeke Emezi is a beast – no pun intended.


Special thanks to Grove Press for the ARC.

[Side note: My rough thoughts on this book were initially posted on my Goodreads, where Akwaeke Emezi spotted it and gave me a shout out on Twitter + Instagram + in their newsletter. It was a pleasant surprise! 🙂 ]


★★★★ (4 stars) – Great book. Highly recommend!

Purchase Freshwater on Amazon


New year, new set of reading intentions!

Instead of using the word ‘goals’, I’ll use the word ‘intentions’. Goals are focused on a specific achievement, while intentions are lived on a daily basis – which is how I intend my reading experience to be this year. My 2017 reading intentions were tough to adhere to, so this year I hope to set some reasonable intentions. I discussed my struggles with my 2017 reading intentions in the 2017 RECAP post.

I’ll continue to read what my mood calls for. I don’t have a set number of African, Caribbean or African-American books to read nor do I have a specific number of books written by women or men I’d like to read either. I like to track books read each year via Goodreads, so entering the Goodreads Reading Challenge helps me do that. Every year I like to declare a goal of at least 18 books as a set point, just to help me gauge my reading experience for the year. I’ll probably read a fewer number of books this year  as (dental) SCHOOL life is very real at the moment. I’ll just be going with the flow – no need to make reading stressful. Reading isn’t a race or competition – at least not for me.

Below are some intentions I’ll be considering during the year:

[Some of the books I enjoyed LAST YEAR (2017)]

  • To READ FOR AT LEAST 40 MINUTES A DAY. Life is quite hectic at the moment. I’m a 4th year dental student and will be in 5th year soon (its a 6 year program) so my nose always has to be in a textbook, in group-study discussions or on the ward/in the clinic completing requirements and attending to patients. But if I’m able to dedicate 40 minutes a day to just reading leisurely, I think that would keep me sane.


  • To CATCH UP ON MY BOOK REVIEWS. I’ve incorporated interesting book chats and discussions onto this platform. I plan on continuing the book chats, but I must stay true to the essence of this book blog – which was initially (and still is) a book reviewing / book recommendations space. I have a growing backlog of book reviews from the previous years that I plan on posting throughout this year.


  • To READ MORE GHANAIAN LITERATURE. Last March, during Ghana’s 60th Independence Anniversary, I showcased 75 Ghanaian writers and their books. It was a daunting, yet fulfilling mini project that I’m very proud of! As I was researching the writers and books for the project, I realized I had read just a handful of the books highlighted. As a Ghanaian, its important for me to read and celebrate the works of writers from my homeland. I hope to read at least 5 books by Ghanaian writers this year. Please join me in this challenge, if you can! Ghanaian literature is so underrated.


  • To RE-READ BOOKS I LOVED IN THE PAST. Some readers don’t believe in re-reading books. We live in an age where the hype of new releases makes us forget the phenomenal books of earlier years. I personally don’t think books are meant to be read and forgotten. Books should be read, meditated on and read AGAIN whenever the need arises. So this year, I want to re-read at least 3 books I loved in the past (that haven’t been reviewed on this platform).


Here’s to a successful year of reading (with few reading slumps), for all of us!

It’s almost the end of the 1st month of 2018, have you figured out your reading intentions/goals yet? Please do share some!