Recently in African novels and stories Category

Sierra Leone's Olufemi Terry wins Caine writing prize

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Very scary story.  Read in morning, not at night.  From the BBC:

The Sierra Leonean writer Olufemi Terry has won this year's Caine Prize for African Writing, regarded as Africa's leading literary award. The prize was given for his story Stickfighting Days - the judges said it presented a heroic culture that was "Homeric" in its scale and conception. They described Olufemi Terry as a talent with an enormous future. Terry was born in Sierra Leone, grew up in Nigeria, was a journalist in Somalia and Uganda, and now lives in Cape Town. His book is about Raul, a boy who lives in a dump and uses sticks to fight with other boys. The Caine prize, of £10,000 ($16,000), is given annually for a short story published in English by an African writer. Terry, however, told the BBC he thought it was "unhelpful" to see writers from the continent as a distinct category. "There is a danger in seeking authenticity in African writing," he told the World Today programme. However, he said he was glad to have won the prize, as it would help him get his first novel published.

Folktales from the Moose of Burkina Faso

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51720tjjOGL.jpgMy colleagues Alain-Joseph Sissao (Author), and Nina Tanti (Translator) have published an English-language version of Alain's collection of Moose folktales.  It is available on amazon.com here.  Here is Alain reading one of the stories (in French).  Congratulations Alain and Nina!

Elegy for Easterly

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elegy_cvr_v3.jpgDevelopment economist's are going to think something happened to Bill Easterly... and for awhile (speaking of visual illusions) I could not train my brain to realize that there actually was not a short story in this collection by Petina Gappah about how Bill Easterly was or was not responsible for Zimbabwe's collapse.

The stories are pretty good... good not great, as they say.  Certainly for someone interested in doing research on Zimbabwe, it offers a first glimpse into the country's social and economic structures.  Especially good on elite attitudes!  I look forward to reading more form Gappah.
aya BD.jpgOver the past week I undertook a reading marathon and read volumes 2, 3 and 4 of Aya, the bande dessinée that is sweeping West Africa by storm... sympathetic characters, realistic storylines, lovely drawings.  Cannot complain. 

The coolest thing is that Abouet too has gotten bit by the library bug and apparently has set up a foundation to establish a neighborhood library in Abidjan.

Something to read some day....

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From the blog vasigauke:

Naomi Benaron, a Munyori author, Wins the 2010 Bellwether Prize ($25 000)

Naomi Benaron, whose short story, "The Geology of Ghosts", recently appeared on Munyori Literary Journal, is the winner of the 2010 Bellwether Prize, worth $25 000. 00, for her novel manuscript Running the Rift, which is set in Rwanda. The Bellwether Prize of fiction, coordinated by Barbara Kingsolver, supports literature of social justice, and Naomi Benaron, whose works are set in Africa, particularly in Rwanda, is a perfect fit. And she is not new to literary awards; her debut collection of short stories, Love Letters from a Fat Man, won 2006 G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Fiction.I have read and enjoyed her work, including the manuscript of Running the Rift.

Barbara Kingsolver called the manuscript "culturally rich and completely engrossing. It engages the reader with complex political questions about ethnic animosity in Rwanda and so many other issues relevant to North American readers. For one, it conveys the impossibility of remaining neutral within a climate of broad moral compromise--even for purportedly apolitical institutions like the Olympics."

For more details, visit the Bellwether Prize website.

Verre Cassé by Alain Mabanckou

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My colleague Alain Sissao is visiting Santa Clara, and lent me his copy of Verre Cassé, so I am finally reading it.  Superb writing!  A perfect novel for discussion in a literature class... every chapter full of meanings, deep and surface.  The style itself of course.  And the literary and popular references crammed in... at one point Bobo-Dioulasso potatos are mentioned... huh?

I haven't finished, but could not resist this little extract, a tiny little riff off Hampaté Bâ, and I come across the aphorism so many times that I know some day I won't be able to resist, just like Mabanckou wasn't able to resist...

mabanckou credit.jpg

"A Simple Case" by E.C. Osundu

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A bittersweet short story by Osundu, who won the Caine prize, is published in the May 2010 issue of The Atlantic.  Nigerian literature blogger Chielo Zona Eze has good things to say about him.  The story pays homage to Soyinka in the jail scene.  Very nice. 

Excellent literary blogger... I just finished the book and went looking for reviews... because like Mr. Ballades et escalades  (whose real name is FERRAND Hervé and who has an excellent blog!) I wasn't quite sure what to make of this complex novel.  Definitely challenging, in a good way.

Avec « Le jujubier du patriarche », la Sénégalaise Aminata Saw Fall [sic] signe un roman où les liens de parenté, tel un foisonnement, occupent une place centrale. C'est ainsi que chaque année, tel un pèlerinage, les descendants réels ou opportunistes de Babyselli, leur ancêtre commun, viennent se recueillir sur sa tombe dans un petit village de la brousse. Le lieu funéraire est dominé par un jujubier auquel est accordé des pouvoirs magiques, notamment d'être un lien entre les vivants et l'ancêtre Babyselli. Mais cette année le jujubier a perdu de sa superbe. Pour Tacko, épouse de Yelli, lui-même descendant de Babyselli, les mauvais présages sont déjà à l'ouvrage. C'est ainsi qu'elle n'a de cesse de rappeler à son mari leur déchéance à cause de la naïveté et des largesses de ce dernier ; lui qui autrefois était riche et avait dilapidé sans modération sa fortune dans l'entretien des griots et autres opportunistes. Sitôt les bourses vides, sa petite cour avait disparu. Tacko se doit de supporter les affronts qui en résultent. C'est ainsi qu'elle fut obligée de quitter sa belle villa installée dans le quartier le plus en vue de la ville pour une petite concession dans une rue populeuse. De plus en plus aigrie et jalouse, Tacko ne supporte plus les affronts et cela peu importe leur nature. C'est ainsi qu'elle se met à dos sa « fille », car celle-ci appartiendrait à une lignée d'esclaves qui a le culot d'être plus riche qu'elle. C'en est trop ! En dépit de la dislocation des liens de parenté, Aminata Saw Fall laisse à ses personnages la possibilité de renaître, de vivre ensemble. Une petite ombre au tableau, le nombre important de personnages peut nuire à la compréhension du roman.

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.

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