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If You Like the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency

The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency stories, featuring Mma Ramotswe the Botswana detective, have become very popular. The series is written by Alexander McCall Smith. If you have enjoyed these you might be interested in other fiction about Botswana.

Bessie Head (1937 - 1986) is usually regarded as Botswana's greatest writer. She is especially famous for the three Serowe novels (Serowe being her location) When Rain Clouds Gather, Maru and A Question of Power. The first, about Botswana on the eve of Independence, is the most accessible.

Unity Dow, who has been an activist, a judge, and a politician at different times, has published four very interesting novels: Far and Beyon', The Screaming of the Innocent, Juggling Truths, and The Heavens May Fall. Juggling Truths, based on 1960s Botswana as perceived by a child, is especially recommended.

Lauri Kubuitsile is emerging as a major talent. After some successful short stories she has published two outstanding historical novels, The Scattering (about the Namibian genocide) and But Deliver Us From Evil.

Andrew Sesinyi's romantic novel Love on the Rocks has long been very popular within Botswana itself. Mositi Torontle's The Victims (1993) is a great insight into Botswana in the 1980s but unfortunately is out of print and almost unobtainable.

A ground-breaking anthology of Botswana's women's writing has just been launched (September 2019): Botswana Women Write, which includes not only fiction and poetry but non-traditional materials such as letters, journalism, court statements, and even skipping rhymes. It includes both the big names and those you would be otherwise unable to find outside the country.

The most complete guide to Botswana literature in English is Mary S. Lederer, Novels of Botswana in English. (More recently she has published a book about the experience of reading Bessie Head, In Conversation with Bessie Head.)


If you're interested in Botswana history, try the website of the University of Botswana History Department: www.thuto.org/ubh. Beware of just googling for facts, as a lot of material on the web about Botswana history—even from what you might think would be reliable sources—can be quite inaccurate.


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