Women, Language & Storytellers
Storytellers Spotlight: Pan African Women

How we tell stories matters and for many storytellers, the colonial languages that dominate literature cannot do the work of expressing what they mean to say and does not hold space for how the story needs to be told.

For this reason, Black writers across the world continue to tell stories in the language that best represents their relationships to the world.

As we continue to celebrate women this month, we want to explore stories by Black women from across the diaspora originally written in languages native to them, now also available in the more popular translation of English.

Discover writing in languages that reflect your reality or experience new writing from across the Black world from the perspective of epic women writers.

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Sin Is a Puppy That Follows You Home | Balaraba Ramat Yakubu

Originally published in Hausa, Sin is a Puppy The Follows You is the first English translation of a Nigerian Hausa language novel. Set in Northern Nigeria, the story follows the life of a family divided by the actions of the father. Giving insights to life in modern Nigeria through polygamy, strong women, and patriarchal society.

La Bastarda | Trifonia Melibea Obono

La Bastrada tells the story of Okomo, an orphan born “a bastard” in a traditional village in Equatorial Guinea. By taking the forbidden decision to search for her father, she enlists help from the village outcasts: her gay uncle and a gang of mysterious girls. Okomo is now faced with a new identity and confronting her culture. This is the first novel by an Equatorial Guinean woman to be translated into English.

Krik? Krak! | Edwidge Danticat

This short story collection from one of the most celebrated writers from the West Indies set in Haiti brings the island and its people to life. The nine stories tell of the cruelties and high ideals of Haitian life. From women who love behind prison walls while facing loss to the people’s resistance of brutality from leaders. These stories bring a multidimensional Haiti to readers.

The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy | Paulina Chiziane

Set in Maputo, Mozambique, The First Wife follows the story of Rami who discovers her husband’s double life after twenty years of marriage and the drama that ensues. Chiziane, Mozambique’s first published female novelist explores her country’s traditional cultures, poking at its values and hypocrisy.

Your Name Will Be Tanga | Calixthe Beyala

This is the story of two women in a prison cell from injustice and violence. Tanga is on her dying bed and Anna-Claude suffers mental issues. In finding companionship in each other, despite different backgrounds, they share their grime stories of life. In this story, Beyala underlines the solidarity that unites women across class, race, religion, and nationality.

As the Crow Flies By | Veronique Tadjo

Comprising several interconnected stories, poems, and observations, As the Crow Flies represents a set of universal experiences from desire, homesickness, poverty, privilege, immigration, love and more. This book was originally written in French and translated to English by Wangui wa Goro.

So Long A Letter | Miriama Ba

Written as an extended letter between friends, So Long A Letter is a sequence of reminiscences by recently widowed school teacher, Ramatoulaye Fall, recounting her struggle for survival following the end of her marriage. Mariama Ba presents in the novella, the plight of an educated woman in a society built on the foundation of its religion, values, and culture.

Men Don’t Cry | Faïza Guène

Men Don’t Cry tells the story of an Algerian family in France. From grappling with a cultural conflict, the perils of assimilation, tradition and modernity in child raising, the story of Mourad and his family presents thought provoking themes on immigration.

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