African Literature and the Acacia Tree Cover

If you’ve read a novel about Africa in the past few years, you might recognize its cover in this grid. If you’ve read more than one novel set in Africa, you may have noticed that the covers don’t vary much. There’s a sunset, or an acacia tree, or probably both. As the post at Africa is a Country puts it,

In short, the covers of most novels “about Africa” seem to have been designed by someone whose principal idea of the continent comes from The Lion King.

Why does this happen? Acacia trees don’t even grow in some of the places the books are about. Michael Silverberg asked cover artist Peter Mendelsund, associate art director at Knopf, how such uniformity comes about. The most direct answer is laziness, but there’s also more to it, which you can read at Quartz.


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