Recently in African novels and stories Category

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.

Librarian Halidou reading Alain Mabanckou in Dohoun Library

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Halidou reading porc-epic in Dohoun.jpg


The book is Alain Mabanckou's Mémoires de porc-épic

Purple Hibiscus

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purplehibiscus.jpgI finally got to read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's first novel, Purple Hibiscus.  Definitely not for the younger child...a frightening, almost Gothic, tale of family dysfunction... the father, Eugene, is so repressed by inner-demons that he demands Christian perfection from his two children and wife, while struggling, as successful businessman and newspaper owner, against the collapsing Nigeria of military coups and riots.  The narrator, Kambili, is a nuanced and sensitive girl, coming of age, slowly realizing that the fear she experiences at home is not normal, but dreadfully wrong.  There are flaws in the novel: some of the adult characters are flat and/or overdrawn, and the ending is, well, somehow the novel had to end, so Adichie decided to end with a bang.  A great novel for the plane ride to Burkina Faso... or a set of evenings at home. 

Long way to go for libraries in Nigeria....

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From Sumaila Isah Umaisha,Literary Editor of New Nigerian Newspapers, Kaduna, Nigeria, and everythinliterature blogger, an interview with Wale Okediran ...

HON. WALE OKEDIRAN, the immediate past President of Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, has just completed a fictional account of his tenure as a member of the Federal House of Representatives from 2004 to 2007. Titled Tenants of the House, it was originally conceived as a biography but had to be fictionalised in view of its very sensitive and potentially explosive contents. In this interview with Sumaila Umaisha, he discusses the book and its public presentation at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos.

NNW: What is Tenants of the House all about?
Hon. Wale Okediran: It is a fictional account of my stay in the House of Representatives from 2004 to 2007. It traced the experience of the main character Hon. Samuel Bakura while in the National Assembly and depicted his challenges, frustrations and achievements as an idealistic young politician.

You stated in the press material that Tenants of the House is politically explosive. How will this explosiveness help heal Nigeria's checkered political experience?
The way it will help will depend on how people react to it.The writer's job is to write and not to prescribe. My aim is to sensitise the public about the challenges and frustrations of governing this country from the perspective of a former insider, albeit in a fictional way. The story will also let the public know that contrary to widely held belief, the problem in our governorship does not solely lie with the politicians, but also to some extent with some of the electorate who expect too much from their elected representatives, and by so doing, put them in difficult positions.

It is my hope that with this understanding, the electorate will be more vigilant in electing the right people into office and monitor them more closely while in office. In addition, more credible people will be willing to go into politics and increase the critical mass of those who want to change the country for good.
....
We however still have a long way to go in the area of Libraries which are still non existing in many parts of the country. One is looking forward to a situation where every Local Government Area in the country will have a functional library. It is not too much for philanthropists to also set up libraries.
Merd, why can't I be in Parisdbf18b5490.jpg... a whole weekend of African graphic noveling...







vendredi 5 février : la bande dessinée africaine : réalités et perspectives

Sous la coordination scientifique de Christophe Cassiau-Haurie, conservateur de bibliothèque, spécialiste de la BD du sud (Afrique, Océan indien, Caraïbes...) qui sera le modérateur de la journée.

introduction : état des lieux de la BD africaine par Christophe Cassiau-Haurie

intervenants :

  • Robert Wazi, éditeur de bandes dessinées
  • Alix Fuilu, auteur et éditeur (Afrobulles)
  • Serge Diantantu, auteur
  • Christophe Ngalle Edimo, scénariste
  • Sabri Kasbi auteur et enseignant
  • Jean-Louis Couturier, rédacteur en chef des revues Planète Jeunes et Planète Enfants (Bayard Presse) : revues diffusées en Afrique
  • Alain Brezault, journaliste, scénariste et écrivain
  • Joost Pollmann, et journaliste de BD au quotidien Volkskrant, commissaire de l'exposition Picha,

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimanada Adichie

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35 adichie.jpgI recently finished Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimanada Adichie.  Definitely the kind of sprawling saga that people of all reading levels enjoy.  The setting is the Biafran war for independence.  Easy to imagine the book becoming the basis for an "imagined community" and it is interesting to see how Adichie conjures the Igbo sense of imagined community before the war.  The poet plays a role; songs play a role; a bearded military man... but the Igbo nation is really tied together by an oral history of significant places and communities.  No novels shaped the community.  But I'm a natural-born critic, so rather than praise too much, I'll point out shortcomings.  I found many of the character overdrawn.  There.  That's it.  Good novel.  Overdrawn characters + potboiler.  Great for an airplane trip.

Of course, the real critics have their very interesting observations that make me wish I had pursued that line of work... "The nature of the Igbo traveling identity-its cosmopolitanism, transborder claims, and new metropolitan tropes-permits us therefore to fully comprehend the nature of Nigeria's contemporary cultural production as well as its implication or significance in shaping modern, postcolonial Nigerian identity and the direction of its narrative of the nation."  That from Nwakanma Obi, "Metonymic Eruptions : Igbo Novelists, the Narrative of the Nation, and New Developments in the Contemporary Nigerian Novel" Research in African literatures , 2008, vol. 39, no2, pp. 1-14.

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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