Enticing Reads Related to Angola

During our intense multi-person, multi-day search to find a full list of Angolan books for the club, we came across a variety of reads related to Angola which didn’t meet all of the club’s criteria for books we officially read. Nevertheless, some seemed so enticing, we knew we needed to share them.

The 8 books below have a connection to Angola & we think you’ll agree are worthy reads in addition to the official monthly selection we’re reading for Angola this month.

Happy reading!

“A powerful, surprisingly funny, and ultimately uplifting account by an Australian of his life on the medical frontline [in Angola, Mozambique, & South Sudan].

Damien Brown, a young doctor, thinks he's ready when he arrives for his first posting with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Africa. But the town he's sent to is an isolated outpost of mud huts, surrounded by landmines; the hospital, for which he's to be the only doctor, is filled with malnourished children and conditions he's never seen; and the health workers—Angolan war veterans twice his age who speak no English—walk out on him following an altercation on his first shift. In the months that follow, Damien confronts these challenges all the while dealing with the social absurdities of living with only three other volunteers for company. The medical calamities pile up—including a leopard attack, a landmine explosion, and having to perform surgery using tools cleaned on the fire—but it's through Damien's evolving friendships with the local people that his passion for the work grows. This heartbreaking and honest account of life on the medical frontline in Angola, Mozambique, and South Sudan is a moving testimony of the work done by medical humanitarian groups and the extraordinary and sometimes eccentric people who work for them.”

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Written by an author born in Angola, where his father was stationed as a medical officer. Wellman spoke the native dialect before he learned English & became an adopted son of a powerful chief whose vision his father restored.

Later, his family moved to the US where Wellman initially wrote about his African upbringing. However, his world was changed after he met an old-time American folk musician & became friends with an acclaimed US folklorist & expert on Ozark mountain magic & traditions. Soon, Wellman moved to North Carolina to be closer to the folksy, backwoods people of the Appalachian mountains about which he was starting to write.

I just finished this book on audio & adored this story of the hero Silver John, a wandering singer who carries a guitar strung with strings of pure silver: ”In the wilds of Southern Appalachia lies Wolter Mountain - a sacred place for the Indians and their predecessors. But the land atop the mountain, taken over by two Englishmen, Brummitt and Hooper Voth, is undergoing frightening changes.”

If you love urban fantasy, you’ll love this version of a country fantasy where Native American, druid/pagan, & Ozark Mountain magics are mixed together. The paper version of the book is hard to find at a decent price, but the audio version was released just a few years ago & the narrator has a lovely, deep voice perfect for Silver John.

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“A coming-of-age story set in Angola in the period leading up to the colony’s independence, Saudade focuses on a Goan immigrant family caught between complicity in Portuguese rule, and their dependence on the Angolans who are their servants. The title (saudade means ‘melancholy’ in Portuguese) speaks to the longing for homeland that haunts its characters, and especially the young girl who is the book’s protagonist and narrator. 

Suneeta Peres da Costa’s novella captures with intense lyricism the difficult relationship between the daughter and her mother, and the ways in which their intimate world opens up questions about domestic violence, the legacies of Portuguese slavery, and the end of empire. The young woman’s intellectual awakening unfolds into a growing awareness of the lies of colonialism, and the violent political ruptures that ultimately lead to her father’s death, and their exile.”

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“Unafraid of a challenge, Lois Pryce began the kind of adventure most of us could only ever dream of. She put on her sparkly crash helmet, armed herself with maps and a baffling array of visas, and got on her bike. Destination: Cape Town - and the small matter of tackling the Sahara, war-torn Angola and the Congo Basin along the way - this feisty independent woman's grand trek through the Dark Continent of Africa is the definitive motorcycling adventure.

Colourful and hilarious, Red Tape and White Knuckles is an action-packed tale about following your dreams that will have you packing your bags and jetting off into the sunset on your own adventure before you know it.”

In 2003, the author left her job at the BBC in London to ride her motorcycle from Alaska to the tip of South America. Upon her return she wrote the book of this trip, Lois on the Loose (https://amzn.to/2UPnRal). Three years later, she set off from London to motorcycle the length of Africa, taking in the Sahara, the Congo and Angola, and wrote her second book noted above. Recently, she made two solo tours of Iran on her motorcycle which is the subject of her latest book, Revolutionary Ride (https://amzn.to/2WVcxXp).

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“A fast-moving, action-packed account of Granger Korff’s two years’ service during 1980/81 with 1 Parachute Battalion at the height of the South African ‘bush war’ in South West Africa (Namibia) and Angola.

Apart from the ‘standard’ counterinsurgency activities of Fireforce operations, ambushing, and patrols to destroy guerrillas, Korff was involved in several massive South African Defence Force (SADF) cross-border operations into Angola to take on FAPLA (Angolan troops) and their Cuban and Soviet allies. Having grown up as an urban rebel street-fighter, his military ‘career’ is marred with controversy. He is always in trouble―going AWOL on the eve of battle in order to get to the front; facing a court martial for beating up and reducing to tears a sergeant-major in front of the troops; fist-fighting with Drug Squad agents; arrested at gunpoint after the grueling seven-week, 700km Recce selection endurance march [a survival of the fittest special ops forced march thought by some to be the most difficult in the world]. And these are but some of the colorful anecdotes that lace this account of service in the SADF.”

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A rich and fascinating book about an overlooked African powerhouse by a travel writer of rare talent.’ - Tim Butcher

Since the end of its crippling 27-year civil war over a decade ago, Angola has changed almost beyond recognition. An oil-fueled bonanza has brought about massive foreign investment and a fabulously wealthy new elite, making its capital, Luanda, the second most expensive city in the world. Today, fortunes are being made and lost overnight, and rich Angolans are eagerly buying up the assets of its former coloniser, Portugal. 

Fascinated by this complex nation, perched at the forefront of a resurgent Africa, writer Daniel Metcalfe travelled to Angola to explore the country for himself. Ebullient and proud, and often unwilling to dwell on its past, Angola has a large army, a hunger for wealth and a need to prove itself on the continent. But as Metcalfe also discovers, it has some of the most grinding poverty in Africa as few Angolans have reaped the rewards of the peace. Nonetheless, amid Angola's brash reality, Metcalfe finds there is a place for a traveller who isn't there to make a quick buck. Crossing the country as ordinary Angolans do, talking to tribal elders, oil workers, mine clearers, street children, he encounters a place of extremes, where cynicism and excess go hand-in-hand with great hospitality and ingenuity. Metcalfe also reveals a colourful history of pirates and slave traders, capuchin monks, syncretic Christian cults and elaborate spirit masks. This is an Angola that symbolises nothing less than a broader turning point between the continents, the repositioning of the rich developed world versus Africa. It is a land that, until now, few outsiders have managed to unlock.”

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“Set in central Angola during the final stages of the country's 30-year civil war, No One Can Stop the Rain is the true story of two ordinary Mdecins Sans Frontires volunteers from Australia—a surgeon and his wife—leaving behind their comfortable lives in mid-career. In doing so, they are confronted by both the best and worst aspects of humanity.

Based on correspondence and diary entries, the book chronicles the couple's journey to Kuito, deep in the heart of Angola. The remnants of this provincial capital had the unenviable reputation of being one of the world's most heavily landmined cities. The events witnessed by Moorhouse and Cheng as they worked alongside civilians victims of landmines, the malnourished, and the displaced provide a unique insight into life in this vast humanitarian citadel. Through the couple's eyes, the reader not only experiences something of the expected, the trauma of war, but also gains a rich insight into the less expected, the ordinary life of both local residents and field volunteers.”

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“On 27th May 1977, a small demonstration against the MPLA, the ruling party of Angola – led to the slaughter of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people. These dreadful reprisals are little talked of in Angola today – and virtually unknown outside the country. In this book, journalist Lara Pawson tracks down the story of what really happened in the aftermath of that fateful day.

In a series of vivid encounters, she talks to eyewitnesses, victims and even perpetrators of the violent and confusing events of the 27th May and the following weeks and months. From London to Lisbon to Luanda, she meets those who continue to live in the shadow of the appalling events of 40 years ago and who – in most cases – have been too afraid to speak about them before. As well as shedding light on the events of 1977, this book contributes to a deeper understanding of modern Angola – its people and its politics; past, present and future.”

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