Recently in African novels and stories Category

Kehinde, by Buchi Emecheta

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kehinde.jpg
Not a very complex novel, but gratifying nevertheless.  A sharp "coming of wisdom" story from 1994 about a Nigerian woman living in London, then returning to Nigeria, who gradually discovers herself.  Nicely drawn characters, and not overly moralizing.  

Why is there so little reading in Africa?

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I'll tell you why. I just went to order some copies of my colleague Alain Sissao's book, Contes du Pays Mossi, and it would cost 26 euros plus shipping to get in to Burkina Faso- total about $40.  This for a small paperback... albeit of delightful short folk tales translated from Moré into French.  But what reader is going to pay that much?  Sigh.

Who Controls African Literature?

FAVL friend Chelby Daigle send us this editorial by Tolu Ogunlesi:

LAGOS: The literary world is once again shining a spotlight on Africa. There are new prizes: the South Africa-based PEN Studzinski Literary Award for short stories, and the Penguin Prize for African Writing, a pan-African prize covering both fiction and non-fiction genres. There’s a new book series, the “Penguin African Writers Series,” which will include not only new books from emerging writers, but also classics taken over from the defunct Heinemann African Writers Series. And next year South Africa will be featured as the “Market Focus country” at the 2010 London Book Fair and African writing will be showcased at the Gothenburg Book Fair.

The African ‘Greats’–Ngugi, Soyinka, Gordimer, Okot p’Bitek– have given way to a new roster of names — Chimamanda Adichie, Chris Abani, Helon Habila, Binyavanga Wainaina, Sefi Atta, Monica Arac de Nyeko, Chika Unigwe, Brian Chikwava — who have become the new faces of contemporary African writing.

This explosion of literary talent and publishing opportunities might be likened to a similar one that accompanied the heady post-independence days of the 1960s. But in spite of all the inspiring and exciting happenings of recent years, there still remain nagging questions regarding who exactly are the proper ‘gatekeepers’ of African literary tradition and production.

Read the full article "Who Controls African Literature" here.
From publisher Ricochet-jeunes...
Fanta vit dans un village du Burkina-Faso avec sa grand-mère Mâ, tandis que sa mère Delphine garde des enfants blancs en France pour gagner un peu plus d’argent. Les deux femmes sont modernes au regard des autres habitants : elles refusent que la petite fille soit excisée, projettent pour elle des études… Mais Fanta, à qui on n’a pas demandé son avis, est un peu perdue.

A rebours des romans qui mettent d’habitude en scène des enfants immigrés en France, l’auteur a choisi de faire rester son héroïne dans son pays d’origine. Mieux, de le lui faire aimer, au point d’hésiter à partir vers l’Eldorado occidental ! Une attitude atypique, qui nous permet de pénétrer dans l’intimité d’une Afrique rurale à mi-chemin entre traditions et progrès. La vie quotidienne est dure, tendue vers l’autosuffisance avec le travail des champs. Le puits conserve une place centrale, qui possède une moto ou un téléphone portable est considéré comme riche. A côté de ce qui semble archaïque, la vie est aussi simple, socialement plus active. Les hommes se retrouvent pour boire un verre le soir, tandis que les enfants écoutent le conteur refaire le monde. Les fêtes durent plusieurs jours, la religion se partage sans heurts entre islam et animisme (voir les ancêtres crocodiles). Marie-Florence Ehret sait faire vivre ces aspects positifs, mais s’attaque sans complaisance à la réalité de la vie des femmes : d’abord l’excision, puis le mariage, enfin les enfants.

Une des tantes de Fanta n’a que quelques années de plus qu’elle, et la petite fille a peur de ne pas trouver d’époux quand sa grand-mère s’oppose à son excision. Cette décision choque d’ailleurs le reste du village, la vieille femme, revenue de la ville à la mort de son mari, n’est pas comme les autres. Fanta, si elle ne mesure pas sa chance à ce moment précis (elle regrette plutôt de ne pas avoir de robe neuve comme ses amies), sent bien le statut particulier accordé à sa famille ouverte sur le monde : mère exilée qui fait bouillir la marmite des oncles, sœur aînée partie étudier à la capitale.

African langugage books online....

Sent in by Kim Dionne :
More Swahili, Kikuyu, Dholuo
and other African Languages in Google Books via Official Google Africa
Blog by Julie on 7/21/09
En Français

We've always said that with Google Books we want to bring more books to
more people in more languages. Today we're truly delighted to announce
that we're making progress, and getting closer to making this true for
more users in Africa. In a partnership with the East African
Educational Publishers
(EAEP) we're working to bring more books in
African languages to our index. From Swahili, to Kikuyu, to Dholuo and
Acholi, but also including oral languages such as Mbeere and Maasai,
the thousands of titles published by EAEP will be digitized and indexed
on Google’s search engine and become available to users in Kenya and
around the world in the next several months.

Google Books helps users discover books. It exposes readers to
information they might not otherwise see, and it provides authors and
publishers with a new way to be found. We truly believe that Google
Books benefits anyone who reads, writes, publishes and sells books.
It's good news for people who read books because they can more easily
discover books that are of interest to them, and where to buy them; it
is good news for authors because it makes it easier for more people to
discover find their work; it is good news for publishers because they
can more easily reach a wider audience; it is good news for booksellers
because readers are directed to the bookshops where they can buy
interesting publications; and it is good news for libraries because it
means more people can discover the books on their shelves.

The EAEP is one of over 25 000 publishers worldwide, to join the Google
Books Publisher Program. Google Books has over 10 million books in the
index. It includes works in over a 100 languages, and is currently
available in 142 countries.

Posted by Santiago de la Mora, Head of Partnerships for Google Books in
Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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

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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