African Literature Book Club – 15th February

We are delighted to invite you to the maiden edition of the Cambridge University African Literature Book Club series, 3:00-4:30 (ish) on the 15th of February, 2020, in the African Studies Library, up on the third floor of the Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road.

Who are we?

This book club is an initiative of the African Studies Library and our members. Inspired by the simple idea that stories are important – in their variance; connections with pasts; relevance to present dilemmas; their prophetic meanings, the book club seeks to create an informal space where people at Cambridge can engage with a myriad of African stories. The book club will hold monthly meetings, during which a book by an African writer – on the continent and in the diaspora – will be discussed. Members of the general public who are interested in African literature are welcome to join us. In subsequent meetings, people will also be encouraged to pitch books they are interested in for the club to read and engage with.

Why is this important?

The book club creates a space to celebrate African Literature over casual conversations, to privilege the multiple genres and themes that make up African stories and by extension, African experiences. As Toni Morrisson has noted, however, the former is not a substitute for the latter but what we celebrate in language is ‘its reach for the ineffable’.  The book club thus provides a relaxed context for book lovers to interact and engage with exciting African texts. It encourages participants to engage the specific issues that each chosen example of literature raises. It also broadly allows participants to engage the more overarching questions of what African Literature is, and what perspectives it offers to contemporary debates about Africa.


The friendly Centre for African Studies and its library opens its doors for these meetings. At the heart of CAS, the library offers a warm environment for interactive and intellectual pursuits. Home to over 30,000 books on Africa ranging diverse subject areas and genres and home to a diverse number  of students interested in Africa, it is a welcoming environment for book lovers to hangout once monthly.

The Maiden Edition

This edition will feature Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

Short Synopsis

In the vibrant city of Ibadan, Bolanle a young university graduate marries into a polygamous family to her ambitious mother’s dismay. Baba Segi, the proud patriarch, comfortable in riches and surrounded by wives and children is convinced he has it all, but does he? Things begin to fall apart when Bolanle cannot have a child (or can’t she?). What revelations might threaten years of imagined stability for the patriarch? Profoundly poetic and extremely witty, this book by Lola Shoneyin is a commentary on the meanings of family life, parenting and how issues of gender and class shape these meanings and experiences.

Lola Shoneyin is a Nigerian poet and novelist. Her novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives was published in 2010 and has since received awards and has been adapted into stage performances. She is the creative director of the Ake Arts and Book Festival in Nigeria.

eBook on iDiscover (Cambridge University members):

Print copies on iDiscover:


Please sign up using Eventbrite here:

We look forward to welcoming you on Saturday 15th February.

Instagram: @afrlib

Twitter: @AfrStudiesLib


Glass cabinet

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