Bessie Head

Bessie Head (1937–1986) was a South African-born Botswana writer and novelist. She is widely recognized for her works that explore themes such as racial and gender discrimination, ethnicity, and the complexities of life in exile. Head's notable works include 'When Rain Clouds Gather', 'Maru', and 'A Question of Power'. Her writing is celebrated for its powerful storytelling and deep insight into the human condition, particularly in the context of African societies.


This list of books are ONLY the books that have been ranked on the lists that are aggregated on this site. This is not a comprehensive list of all books by this author.

  1. 1. A Question of Power

    "A Question of Power" explores the life of Elizabeth, a mixed-race South African woman who moves to a village in Botswana to escape the apartheid regime of her home country. The novel delves into her struggle with mental illness, as she experiences vivid, often terrifying hallucinations. These episodes are deeply symbolic, reflecting her internal battles with power, gender, race, and colonialism. The narrative provides a profound examination of the human psyche and the impact of social and political oppression on mental health.

    The 1085th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. The Collector Of Treasures

    "The Collector of Treasures" is a poignant collection of short stories set in Botswana, exploring the complexities of African life, particularly the experiences of women. The narratives delve into themes of love, betrayal, traditional values, and the struggle for survival in the face of modern challenges. Through the lives of her characters, the author weaves tales that reveal the harsh realities of rural existence, the resilience of the human spirit, and the quest for dignity amidst societal and personal adversities. The title story, which stands out in the collection, tells the tragic yet powerful tale of a woman who takes a drastic step to liberate herself from an abusive marriage, highlighting the extreme measures to which one might go to reclaim autonomy and respect.

    The 3743rd Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. When Rain Clouds Gather

    The novel is a poignant exploration of political exile, social change, and agricultural innovation set in Botswana. It follows the story of Makhaya, a refugee fleeing apartheid South Africa, who finds solace and purpose in a rural village where he meets an Englishman running an experimental farm. Together, they work to transform the arid landscape and the lives of the local people, battling against both natural adversity and the resistance of traditionalists. The narrative delves into themes of personal healing, community development, and the struggle against oppressive systems, all set against the backdrop of Africa's complex postcolonial challenges.

    The 5947th Greatest Book of All Time