The New York Review of Books imprint has one of the highest batting averages of any publishing house out there, and they definitely bring it with The Radiance of the King. Set in a pre-World War II Africa, a sort of schlubby British guy, hard up on his luck and full of colonial entitlement, is assisted by a beggar and two rambunctious teens in making his way to offer his services to the king. He moves through an almost hallucinogenic landscape, his pretensions and assumptions ripped away from him, until he is (SPOILER ALERT) eventually sold into slavery as a member of the king’s harem. This isn’t just a classic of African Literature, it’s a Classic, period.
—Scott Beauchamp from BookRiot chose Camara Laye’s The Radiance of the King as one of the best books he read in July. Camara Laye is most famous for his book L’Enfant Noir, which is often considered one of the first great African novels. The Radiance of the King is not far behind (L’Enfant was published 1954, Radiance 1956), and Kwame Anthony Appiah has called it “one of the greatest of the African novels of the colonial period.”