But while sport is the reason for the South African focus right now, many mystery-loving readers know that the country, and the wider continent, can produce some pretty damned good crime fiction too. And like the sports world, this literary one also has its 'superstars', as well as a growing list of high quality 'performers' that are moving from lesser-known to noticed, and lauded. Some have even been saying that South Africa could be the 'new Scandinavia' when it comes to crime fiction. High praise indeed.
So it was with interest that I read an online piece in The Guardian this week, where Michael Stanley (the pen name of the crime-writing tag-team of retired South African-born professors Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip - pictured left) picked a 'top 10' African-set crime novels. Stanley of course is the author(s) of Botswana-set mysteries starring food-loving Detective "Kubu" Bengu (A CARRION DEATH, A DEADLY TRADE).
"Ever since we started writing detective stories set in Africa ... we've paid more attention to the many wonderful mysteries set on the continent," say Sears and Trollip. "Some of the writers were born in Africa, others not. Some are oldies, but others are contemporary, reflecting the surge of mystery writers interested in Africa. The 10 books we've chosen all capture some aspect of African culture or location."
Sears and Trollip talk about each book and why they choose it in some detail in the article, which you can read in full here, but for the moment, here's their list of the 10 best African-set books:
- Murder at Government House by Elspeth Huxley
- Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
- Song Dog by James McClure
- Instruments of Darkness by Robert Wilson
- The Screaming of the Innocent by Unity Dow
- The Mission Song by John Le Carré
- Devils Peak by Deon Meyer
- Blood Rose by Margie Orford
- Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey
- Zulu by Caryl Férey
So what do you think of Michael Stanley's list? How many have you read? What other African crime novels have you read? Which would you recommend? Are there any glaring omissions from the list? Thoughts and comments appreciated.