Recently in African novels and stories Category

"Bouba et Zaza" au salon du livre de Paris

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Salon du livres Paris 2011.JPG
Elisee ecrit:

Le salon du livre de Paris s'est refermé ce soir. J'ai eu l'occasion d'y faire un tour cet après midi du lundi.  Près d'une centaine de stands présentant un choix immense de livres francophones. J'ai plus particulièrement aimé le stand du Congo et de la Guinée qui proposaient de la littérature d'auteurs africains, et où je me suis volontairement attardé.  Et, entre autre rencontres, j'ai eu celle de Bouba et Zaza, deux personnages africains ! Bouba et Zaza est une collection de livres illustrés, écrits en français et en anglais, pour enfants africains et qui traitent des questions dont l'explication aux enfants n'est pas toujours évidente. La gestion de l'eau, l'acceptation de la différence, le VIH/Sida sont entre autres thèmes abordés, simplement  et de façon appropriée à la compréhension du jeune lectorat.
Bouba et Zaza.JPGC'est une heureuse initiative qui fait sa première présentation au Salon de Paris. Mademoiselle N'Guessan une responsable du stand m'a présenté le catalogue des 16 minis livres de la collection et m'a offert un exemplaire qui, j'en suis sûr, sera très apprécié dans la bibliothèque FAVL qui en serait l'heureuse bénéficiaire. Et bonne nouvelle ! Nous recevrons gratuitement, toute la collection de Bouba et Zaza dans les semaines à venir,  au profit des Bibliothèques de Villages au Burkina Faso.

Pour une première participation au salon du livre de Paris, je pense que c'est une manifestation qui va au delà de ce que peut imaginer un burkinabè qui ne connait de salon de livre que celui de Ouagadougou (FILO)! Pour les amoureux du livre et de la littérature francophone en général, c'est le rendez-vous par excellence à ne pas manquer !

Le lieutenant de Kouta by Massa Makan Diabaté

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9782218068607FS.gifFAVL blog reader Shane Auerbach had recommended this several years ago, and I finally got a chance to read it.  I enjoyed it quite a lot, but I think it really is for the West Africa specialists.  There is too little development of the lieutenant's character; he veers between a complex, intelligent person and a simpleton, and the author doesn't give us enough to go on.  It may be that plenty of people in real life have these tendencies, but I always think that in a novel the "job" of the author is to help the reader understand and get into the heads of such persons.  Here that does not happen; instead Diabaté devotes many wonderful pages to reproducing typical village dialogue.  That was excellently done, and the novel would have been perfect if the lieutenant had been filled out more.

Wikipedia has a nice review and background of the novel.  
From Accra books and things:

Yes, as the headline says, the Africa Region finalists for the 2011 Commonwealth Writers' Prize were announced recently, and here in Accra, too!  Not too surprisingly, I guess, as the Chair of the Africa Regional jury this year was Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, writer, journalist and most recently editor of The Ghanaian Times newspaper.

The Africa Region winners are:

  • Best Book: The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone)
  • Best First Book: Happiness is a four-letter word by Cynthia Jele (South Africa)

There was pretty good coverage online here in Ghana, with stories on the Ghana Government website and also on Ghanaweb .  OK, some of the headlines were a little unrealistic, or should I say overoptimistic, but still it is something.

My colleague bloggers and book lovers, ImageNations and Geosi Reads were quick to blog about the lists.  More power to them.  The more people who know about these achievements, the better.

And of course the more likely the books will become available to we omnivorous readers of contemporary African literature.  I am not surprised at the choice of the Aminatta Forna book; it has had pretty good reviews.  I guess I will just have to wait until the Jele book hits the international distribution circuit!

Tail of the Blue Bird - Nii Ayikwei Parkes

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51PVL3dBvpL._SL500_AA300_.jpgRead this over the course of last week... a wonderful, lyric detective story.  The scenes in the village (in Ghana) are excellent.  The moody atmospherics of the London-returned "book man" who adapts back to local ways were done well.  While the murder mystery itself was not very gripping, that was definitely not the point.  I recommend the book highly. probably the best I've read over the past year.  Better than Wife of the Gods, which was less lyrical.  This had more of Mabanckou in it.  African fiction is really taking off. I'm totally looking forward to the first good sci-fi novel by an African author.

A good book review is here.  I read the book based on recommendation of accrabooksandthings.  Thanks!

Book is UK edition, apparently a US edition is supposed to come out soon.

Sumbrungu: Survival at all costs

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The clothes of nakedness, by Benjamin Kwakye

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Accra books and things blog mentioned this book, so I ordered it through interlibrary loan.  I guess I would recommend this only for hardcore African literature readers.  It is a morality tale- one of the main characters is named Mystique Mysterious, for heaven's sake- and so just doesn't work as a novel.  A pity, because Kwakye clearly has the writing talent to tell a good story.  I hope he gets a good editor, and abandons the fluff... don't have a world of humans interacting and then a devil gliding through them, with no character.

I think if you are Ghanaian you probably have a different reaction to the novel- it speaks to you more directly.  Here is one blogger, geosireads:

This is one book you will read and enjoy. Benjamin Kwakye is one writer I respect so much for his works. He tells the major issues confronting modern Ghana and I must confess that this work is very much insightful as well as thoughtful. Reading it for a third time brought to me much joy even more than my first reading. I enjoyed this book as well as his second novel, The Sun by Night. As I am yet to read his third and most recent novel, The Other Crucifix, I will go into it with high expectations, perhaps wanting to see it surpass his previous works. The Clothes of Nakedness is Highly, Highly, Highly, Highly, Highly Recommended!
One thing, this novel, together with Wife of the Gods, and Esse Roji's wonderful Dead Men Don't Smoke Marijuana, is making me think there is a lot more marijuana in Ghana and English-speaking West Africa than in Burkina Faso! 

Nii Ayikwei Parkes reads from Tail of the Blue Bird

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6a00d83451ce8669e200e54f78a5078834-640wi.jpgFAVL board member
Magi Diego writes in:

My local women's book club chose Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as our book of the month. I've been a member of this book club for quite a few years and we have read all sorts of books, many involving women and taking place in faraway lands. However, I think this was perhaps only our second African novel, which made it quite interesting. You see, we have a  potluck every month in which book club members are to bring a food item  mentioned in the book.  (None of us knew what Gari was for sure! )  We  ended up with several tasty soups (stews) and yams cooked many ways.  It was  fantastic. 

The book club was divided on their reaction to Half a Yellow Sun.   Many found it too gruesome and gory.  (One of our members is 8 months pregnant, and well, if you have read the book, you know it is not something that would  make for a happy pregnancy).  However, the younger bunch really enjoyed it,  perhaps because it opened up a whole new culture to us- learning about the Igbo  and the short lived history of Biafra.  Some of the older folks remembered  Biafra from the news as kids.  (Personally, I only knew it as the lead singer of  the Dead Kennedy's last name- and lo and behold, come to find out, that is where he got the name....)  Me, I loved the book.  I learned so much as well as  enjoyed a good story.  The characters could have been a bit more developed and  the relationships even more so.  However Adichie's clever juxtaposing of America Civil Rights in the 60's to what was going on in Nigeria during the same time  was what sold the book to me.  If you really find the events way off in Nigeria  gruesome, look what we Americans were doing here to each other on our own soil, in our backyard.

Petina Gappah with Bola Mosuro on Network Africa

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Premier prix du roman paalga : "Souvenirs d'un petit campagnard"

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Felicitations aux ecrivains! 

"Souvenir d'un petit campagnard" de Jean Louis Somda et "Le Roi du Dja Djo" de Bali Nébié. Ce sont là les deux œuvres classées respectivement première et deuxième de la première édition du Prix du roman paalga. Lancé à l'occasion du 35e anniversaire de L'Observateur paalga, ce concours littéraire a rendu son verdict le jeudi 23 décembre 2010 à la faveur de la clôture du Salon international du livre de Ouagadougou (SILO).
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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.

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