Recently in African novels and stories Category

From Ugandan Insomniac... (HT Kim Dionne)
If you are a fan of Chimamanda Ngonzi Adichie’s books, you have to download the BBC World Book Club podcast in which she discusses Half of a Yellow Sun.

One of things that struck a chord for me was Chimamanda’s revelation that for the first years of her life she thought about the world through the prism of Europe and America because of the books she read. For a while all her short stories were about British people and an unhealthy obsession with ginger beer.

Until I was about 9, I didn’t know it was okay to write about people like me.

Interesting.

I have a friend who is writing a book set in Eastern Europe with eastern European characters. He’s a Ugandan man who until a few years ago lived no where else but here. Oh, and he’s never been to Eastern Europe.

While I may be completely wrong in relating his work to what Chimamanda said, it reminded me of stuff. Like how many books by African writers must have a white man or woman in order to ‘make sense’ to the rest of the world. Like how descriptions of ourselves are not informed by what we know about our villages, our countries or our continent, but what the rest of the world thinks of us.

I am one to talk.

Looking around my house as I write this, I see that I am no different. I’ve tried to make my house as ‘African’ as possible – tribal masks from Congo and Rwanda, Masaai sculptures, Kiganda baskets, Ghanaian printed reed chairs, cow skin pouf, large picture of African setting sun … These are things I have been told by interior design magazines are elements of ‘colonial’ design and ‘safari’ living. I would never decorate my home the way my grandmother did. That’s too rural for me.

Yeah, I’m a hypocrite.

Anyway.

Chimamanda said what I already knew, but hearing it again, a loud brought it home.

The power of literature … stories inform how you see yourself and what you think of yourself. I often ask my friends, ‘What are your kids reading?’ It’s important to have children see that their stories are worthy of literature. It’s okay for them to read Enid Blyton, but have them read Nigerian literature as well.

And they reviewed a new novel from Ghana... sounds very interesting:

In an interesting guest post at Publishing Perspectives, Kwei Quartey talks about his debut novel, Wife of the Gods, a murder mystery set in a rural area of Ghana. Quartey, born in Ghana and now a practicing doctor in California, encountered resistance when he first tried to publish his novel. An agent who declined to accept the manuscript explained, “There are two places on earth that no one has the slightest interest in reading about: Afghanistan and Africa.” Now, a decade later, all that’s changed. For Quartey, Ghana “provides a compelling background to any crime.” ... Wife of the Gods will be published in the US on July 14th.
It is http://book.co.za/
At 21 min. in he talks about Things Fall Apart. Very interesting!

We're trying to get away from Berenstein Bears... so not surprising that you've probably never heard of any of these that were a selection of books purchased for the Steve Cisler Memorial Library in Dimikuy, which is about to open sometime this month. We're waiting for the "tile"... yes, in a complete innovation for a village in Burkina, part of the outdoor reading area is going to have tiled benches... more confortable and durable and aesthetic than just plain cemented mud-brick benches... we saw a lot of tilework during our trip to Dakar last November, and Koura Donkoui, our local rep. southwestern Burkina, decided to give it a try... just one more little innovation... we'll see how it works!

Titre Auteur
Le seigneur de la danse Veronique Tadjo
Thieni Ghanani CEDA
Fati n'est plus triste EDICEF
La revanche de Sonko-le-lievre EDICEF
Kayeli Chantal Iritie Boan Lou
Mificao Marie-Danielle Aka
Une cueillette ratee O.J.R.Georges Bada
Mais qu'est-ce qu'il y a Dodo? O.J.R.Georges Bada, Hector D. Sonon
Louty, l'enfant du village Fatou Ndiaye Sow
Akissi reine d'une nuit Annick Assemian
Bouh et la vache magique Abdourahman A. Waberi, Pascale Bougeault
La carapace perdue Assamala Amoi, Benjamin Kouadio Kouakou
Louba le petit footballeur Sanodji Yombel Abiathar, Adi Moussa
Afi et le tambour magique Thecla Midiohouan, Hector D. Sonon
Pourquoi je ne suis pas sur la photo? Kidi Beby, Christian Kinge Epanya
Landisoa et les trois cailloux Raharimanana, Jean A. Ravelona
Les jeunes detectives Yaw Ababio Boateng
La hyene affamee Stella Katengesya
Legendes africaines Bernard B. Dadie
La potion magique Inna Hampateba
La legende de sadjo Isaie Biton Koulibaly
La belle tella CEDA
Le garcon qui chevaucha un lion James Ngumy
Sauvee par les animaux Pere Castor Flammarion
L'ane au crottin d'or Yves Pinguilly
Le Sida et autres affaires le concernant CEDA
L'enfant et l'oeil du ciel Ansomwin Ignace Hien
Les colombes de la paix Ansomwin Ignace Hien
Lucy la grand-tante de l'humanite Anne-Sophie Chilard, Claire Mobio
Le grand combat Michael Cullup
Sarraounia la reine magicienne du Niger Halima Hamdane, Isabelle Calin
Neka va au marche Ifeoma Okoye
Kimboo contre la drogue Liliana Lombardo, Kolo Toure, Basile Boli
Premiere rencontres avec Jesus Irene Mieth
Le Club des Cinq en vacances Enid Blyton
Princesse Zelina le rosier magique Bruno Muscat, Edith
Karateka Yves-Marie Clement
Un pantalon pour papa Angela Shelf Medearis, John Ward
Conte de la marguerite Beatrice Appia
Jack et le haricot magique Marlene Jobert
La main sacree de metallica Usinor Sacilor
Donito la sirene des caraibes Conrad
Georges, ver de terre Bruno Heitz
A la decouverte de l'anglais sur les traces de Timothy J.C. Sentenac
Un jour dans la foret Hemma
Le petit Dragon qui ne savait pas moucher Odile Delattre, Benoit Rondia
Contes des peuples de l'U.R.S.S. Robert Babloian

Oddly enough, I'd just been talking with a friend about the apparent lack of Sudanese novelists accessible to English-speaking readers, apart from the recently deceased Tayeb Salih, and I literally "randomly" picked this novel from the stacks at my neighborhood library- I was browsing in the fiction section looking for African writers.

Judging from Aboulela's biography and an interview, it is a very personal novel. Definitely gives a perspective on Islam that you will not find in most novels. More Graham Greenish in it's explicit invocation of faith and crisis of faith (in religion, in one's self). She's an excellent writer, though not the same caliber as Salih, Achebe, Okri, Coetzee, etc., but then again, who is? I recommend the novel- it is short... but in full disclosure have to add that I was in the end disappointed. The ending is very pat. There was one wonderful passage, though. One about how Sammar, the main character, reconnects with her son who she hadn't seen in four years. I loved Aboulela's description of Sammar holding her son, now older, and playing "baby" with him, the only time he allows himself to enjoy that special intimacy between parent and child. Very moving.

Waah, why couldn't I be there....

A party to celebrate English and German translation of BD illustrated by Pov (left) and written by Jean-Claude de l`Estrac (right).
I've been reading Chinua Achebe's 1972 collection Girls at War and Other Stories. Beautifully written stories written mostly in his youth. The stories themselves often end abruptly; he had not mastered the art of the final twist that is so appealing of the short story format. But the excellence of writing is so very much there.
And I don't have much positive to say. For the first hundred pages I was in great admiration of the prose, but then he switches prose style when he gets to Geoffrey Allen's ruminations on scarification and mother Africa, and it got too weird and frankly boring. I forced myself to continue reading- it's a Nobel Prize winning author, after all. But maybe it was not his best effort- I've read a number of his shorter pieces and they are much more interesting. Indian blogger braindrain has a nice piece after reading a pirated English translation, but comes to an opposite conclusion....
A beautifully written book, about the intolerance and brutality of colonial powers and the destruction of native culture and exploitation of their resources. The prose is very clear and straight forward , and look at the events at difference perspective of the child, mother and the father. After a somewhat dragging initial pages of their voyage to Onitsha, the novel is a superb read.

Book tour in Nigeria!

| 1 Comment
From the "I'd love to be there" category, by way of EverythinLiterature:

From May 2nd to Saturday June 6th 2009, nine Nigerian writers will embark on a book tour to 4 cities across Nigeria. The event is themed 9 Writers, 4 Cities: The Book Tour, and it is a series of book readings, book signings and discussions. Each event will be recorded and made available for download online. The series of weekend readings will hold in Benin, Ibadan, Lagos and Warri. The first event, which is to be hosted by Writers Anonymous at the African Artists Foundation in Lagos, will be followed by a ‘Book Party’. The participating writers are: Odia Ofeimun (poet and author of The Poet Lied), Toni Kan (author of Nights of a Creaking Bed), Lindsay Barrett (journalist, poet and author of several books, including Song for Mumu), Jumoke Verissimo (author of I am Memory), Tade Ipadeola (a lawyer and author of the poetry collection A Sign of Times), Joy Isi Bewaji (author of Eko Dialogue), Eghosa Imasuen ( medical doctor and author of To Saint Patrick), A. Igoni Barrett (managing editor of Farafina magazine and author of From Caves of Rotten Teeth) and Bimbo Adelakun ( journalist and author of Under the Brown Rusted Roofs).

FAVL Blog

Books, reading, and libraries relevant to Africa by Michael Kevane, co-Director of FAVL and economist at Santa Clara University.

Other contributors include Kate Parry, FAVL-East Africa director, FAVL Burkina Faso representative Koura Donkoui, FAVL Burkina Faso program manager Krystle Nanema, and FAVL friends Emilie Crofton and Elisee Sare.

OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID