Jodi Picoult's 'Larger Than Life' Cover Has an Acacia Tree, and I'm Not Exactly Surpirsed

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If you're a fan of Jodi Picoult, you'll be happy to know that the ebook version of her new novella, Larger Than Life , is available to download for free on her website through August 9. If, on the other hand, you're a person who's noticed that just about every book relating to the continent of Africa seems to have an acacia tree on the cover, you'll probably be less happy. Picoult's novella, which serves as a prequel to her novel Leaving Time, focuses on a researcher studying elephants in Botswana — so naturally what should one find on the cover, but an acacia tree.

We couldn't have at least gone for some elephants or something? Elephants are awesome. I refuse to believe that putting elephants on the cover wouldn't sell books. But no, instead we have another acacia tree.

As pointed out by the website Africa is a Country, which critiques Western concepts of the continent, the whole acacia tree trope is everywhere when it comes to African literature. It happens even with books from big name authors, like the cover of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun. And more often than not, the image is accompanied by an orange sky. As Africa is a Country points out, "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."

Someone appears to needs to talk with the those responsible for designing book covers, because African authors and those who have written a book set somewhere in Africa deserve a bit more creative thinking from the people who create their covers. Plus, given that Africa is enormous and enormously diverse, it might be nice if we could stop acting like this one image sums up the entire continent. Because there's a fine line between classic and cliché, and I think we've found the threshold.