If you're a reader looking for a book to perk your jaded interest in a world with too many homogeneous books, "AFRICAN VIOLET and other stories", the collection of the 2012 Caine Prize for African Writing shortlisted entries, is the book for you.
These 15 unique short stories depict the reality of this continent: brutal, passionate and wounded. In each, the different facets of Africa glitter with tears of despair, anger, rage and desperation. But there are also glimpses of that spirit that gives Africa her strength: even in the darkest stories there is courage and hope, and sometimes laughter.
My favourite story is "La Salle de Depart" by Zimbabwean author Melissa Tandiwe Myambo. Her deeply nuanced story of a young Senegalese man, whose family sacrificed everything to send him to America expecting him to help uplift the rest of the extended family, and the struggle between the Western value of individualism versus the African value of family collectivism, was a poignant masterpiece. Every person who feels the conflict between their love for their family and a desire to meet personal goals will find this story resonating with them.
Another excellent story is "African Violet" by South African author Rehana Rossouw. Who would think that the offering of a small pot plant could so brilliantly represent both the intense struggle and deeply ingrained prejudices that post-apartheid South Africa must deal with?
Although I've mentioned only two of my favourites, each story in this collection provides an excellent read, as is expected from a competition of this calibre, and every reader will no doubt find their personal favourite.