Bite of Hunger: A Novel of Africa is a fictional offering by reputed cultural anthropologist Hilda Beemer Kuper. It is a coming-of-age novel centering on young Lamtana, the daughter of a chief in Swaziland (modern day Eswatini, a small country landlocked by South Africa on all sides. The novel explores the tensions between the traditional tribal life of Lamtana’s upbringing and the aspects of modernity that brush up against her through her education and move to Johannesburg.
From a review for American Anthropologist by Absolom Vilakazi of the American University in 1966: “The advantage of fiction as a medium of exposition is that it enables the writer to show a rich variety of color and character that is submerged in the composite generalized pictures we get from ethnological accounts. Bite of Hunger is, however, too consciously anthropological, and the author has not exploited to the full the advantages offered by her chosen literary form [...]. The characters here are much too fossilized, sometimes a trifle too romanticized, and the traditional forms are very much idealized. [...] The book, however, is an excellent statement of Swazi social and cultural patterns, and shows an understanding of the nice points and nuances of Swazi culture that is rarely achieved by anthropologists, even when they are acknowledged authorities on the peoples and cultures they describe. It is an important addition to the new literature on African peoples in which the writers give play to informed imagination. It is through books like this that we are able to get the real flavor of life in an African society and not merely the stereotyped museum images that we get so plentifully from ethnographic monographs.”
- Title: Bite of Hunger: A Novel of Africa
- Author: Hilda Kuper
- Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.
- Place: New York
- Year: 1965
- First Edition
- Length: 210pp
- Dimensions: 75” x 8.25”
- Condition: The blue cloth covered boards are in good condition, some wear along the edges and nickel sized stains at both the top the bottom of the spine. A metallic bronze triangle pattern decorates the long edge of the front cover. Bronze titles on the spine. The dustjacket is very worn: creased along the edges and folds, torn in multiple places, and missing significant portions from the front and spine. The binding is tight. The text block is complete and clean—pages are without folds, tears, or extraneous marks. A floral bookplate sits on the front pastedown. There is an inscription by the author on the half title page.