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Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

An interview with Kwei Quartey – our sunshine noir author for September

A new month calls for a new local thriller author sending shivers down readers across the continent’s spine.

This month, the co-author of the popular Detective Kubu series, Michael Sears, had the opportunity to interview Kwei Quartey for The Big Thrill – the magazine for international thriller writers.

Here’s what the two sunshine noir authors chatted about:

Kwei is the author of the Darko Dawson series that follows the exploits of a police detective in Accra, Ghana. He is a doctor who lives in Los Angeles, but he spends a lot of time in Ghana researching his novels.

Kwei’s books have been praised by critics as well as leading mystery writers like Michael Connelly, who said of his work: “Kwei Quartey does what all the best storytellers do. He takes you to a world you have never seen and makes it as real to you as your own backyard.” Kwei’s debut, Wife of the Gods, was an L.A. Times best seller, and was followed by Children of the Street, Murder at Cape Three Points, and Gold of Our Fathers. All reflect strong local themes – witchcraft, homeless children, oil, gold – and have taken Darko to different places in Ghana. In Death by his Grace, everything happens in Accra itself, set against the hyper-religious atmosphere of the Pentecostal churches. In fact, the murder is much too close to home as far as Darko is concerned, in more ways than one.

Death by His Grace is a “classic” mystery in the sense that Katherine Vanderpuye’s body is discovered in the house with no sign of forced entry. Darko immediately deduces that the murderer is known to her. It now becomes a matter of discovering who had motive and opportunity, and narrowing it down from there. It’s a rather different style from your previous books, Kwei. Did you set out to do something different, or did the story just naturally develop that way?

I wanted to do something different. I felt I needed a change in style and substance from the previous novels in the series to “shake things up.” I find it fascinating that my editor at Soho Press, Juliet Grames, had independently pictured the format of the book the same way I had decided to structure it.

Deliverance and the casting out of demons is a common theme in Pentecostal churches, which have a great drawing power in Ghana (Photo courtesy of distanceisnotabarrier.wordpress.com)

 
Evangelical churches play a big role in many parts of Africa. Fiery preaching and a strong community aspect attract big crowds and, often, big money. Bishop Howard-Mills’ church is no exception. Even Darko’s family is involved. Could you tell us about the impact of this type of organized religion in Ghana?

I feel it’s largely negative. Organized religion is a class and wealth system of inequity in which the congregation feeds the pastor/minister while sapping the time and energy of people who could be doing something constructive instead. Further, I think it fosters predeterminism, that is, the sense that things happen in the life of the individual at the whims of a higher power, or “by the grace of God.” This induces a kind of passivity and disinterest in change. I feel strongly about all the social topics I handle in my novel, but perhaps the strongest about this one.

Even sophisticated people still believe in, or at least are concerned about, the effects of witchcraft. When she fails to conceive, Katherine’s marriage falls apart because of her husband’s fear of witchcraft—albeit carefully orchestrated by his unpleasant mother. In the acknowledgments you note that Katherine’s story is based on real life. Does this underlying fear of the occult often intrude into relationships in Ghana?

Absolutely. In the West, we are used to “personal issues” affecting our relationships, but in Ghana and much of Africa, the other two factors that can intrude are (1) the extended family’s influence and (2) beliefs in the occult and the power of witchcraft, curses, and the like. Till this day, people in Ghana still consult an “oracle” to obtain knowledge of or protection from malicious events past, present or future. Ironically, the oracle consulted could be a “man of God,” or it could be a practitioner of traditional religion such as a fetish priest or “juju-man.”

Continue reading Michael’s interview with Kwei here.

Death by His Grace

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Six local authors shortlisted for the Brittle Paper Literary Awards

Via PEN SA

Literary website Brittle Paper has announced the shortlists for the inaugural Brittle Paper Literary Awards. PEN SA members Petina Gappah and Sisonke Msimang were shortlisted in the Fiction and Essays / Think Pieces categories respectively. Gappah for her story “A Short History of Zaka the Zulu”, published on The New Yorker‘s website, and Msimang for her piece “All your faves are problematic: A brief history of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, stanning and the trap of #blackgirlmagic”, published on the Africa is a Country website.

Besides Sisonke, five other local authors made the cut.

The Brittle Paper Award for Fiction:
- Sibongile Fisher for her short story “A Door Ajar”, published in Short Story Day Africa: Migrations
- Megan Ross for her short story “Farang”, published in Short Story Day Africa: Migrations

The Brittle Paper Award for Essays/Think Pieces:
- “Writes of Passage, an Urban Memoir: How a Pan-African Journal and American Glossies Put Bongani Madondo on the Write Path,” by Bongani Madondo, as published in The Johannesburg Review of Books

The Brittle Paper Anniversary Award:
- “Love Is Not Apolitical,” by Andile Ndlovu (Fiction)

Koleka Putuma was shortlisted in the poetry category for her PEN SA Student Writing Prize-winning poem “Water”, published on our website here.

Congratulations and good luck to all six of them!

The press release reads:

August 1, 2017 was Brittle Paper’s seventh anniversary. In celebration of this milestone, we are launching the Brittle Paper Literary Awards, to recognize the finest, original pieces of African writing published online.

The awards come in five categories: Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, Essays/Think Pieces, and the Anniversary Award for works published on our blog. The winners in the fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and essays/think pieces categories will receive $200 each, while the winner of our Anniversary Award will receive $300. The winners will be announced on 23 September, 2017.

The shortlists are a result of months of meticulous hard work. The selections were made based on quality, significance, and impact. In this, we considered only works that are available online for free. For the fiction, poetry, nonfiction and essays/think pieces categories, we considered works published between 1 January, 2016 and 31 July, 2017. For our anniversary award, our consideration was limited to between 1 August, 2016 and 31 July, 2017.

Click here for the complete shortlist.

Migrations

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Rehana Rossouw (SA) & Fiston Mwanza Mujila (DRC), 5 September

Literary Crossroads is a series of talks where South African writers meet colleagues from all over the continent and from the African diaspora to discuss trends, topics and themes prevalent in their literatures today. The series is curated by Indra Wussow and Sine Buthelezi.


 
 
 
 
 
 
Rehana Rossouw was born in Cape Town and lives in Johannesburg. She has been a journalist for 30 years and is currently employed at Business Day as a commissioning editor. She has a Masters degree in creative writing from Wits University. What Will People Say? is her first novel and was shortlisted for the Etisalat prize for African literature in 2016 and awarded the National Institute for Social Science and Humanities prize for fiction in 2017. She is currently completing her second novel.

Fiston Mwanza Mujila was born in 1981 in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, where he studied Literature and Human Sciences at Lubumbashi University. He now lives in Graz, Austria and teaches African literature. His writing has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Gold Medal at the 6th Jeux de la Francophonie in Beirut. His novel, Tram 83, was a French Voices 2014 grant recipient, and won The Etisalat Prize for Literature 2015 and the Internationaler Literaturpreis 2017, as well as being longlisted for The Man Booker International Prize and the Best Translated Book Award (both 2016). His poetry, prose work, and plays are reactions to the political turbulence that has come in the wake of the independence of the Congo and its effect on day-to-day life. As he writes in one of his poems, his texts describe a “geography of hunger:” hunger for peace, freedom, and bread.

Event details
Date: Tuesday, 5 September
Time: 19:00
Venue: Goethe-Institut South Africa, 119 Jan Smuts Ave, Parkwood, Johannesburg

What Will People Say

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Tram 83


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Programme for the ninth Jozi Book Fair announced!

In partnership with the City of Johannesburg, the ninth Jozi Book Fair takes place from 31 August – 3 September 2017 at Mary Fitzgerald Square, Newtown, Johannesburg.

The Jozi Book Fair (JBF) is an educational and cultural festival for schools, children, book clubs, women, men, academics, communities and the public. This year JBF’s jam-packed programme has more than 150 events for people of all ages, varied topics and interests, and all art forms, and 60% of events are hosted by the public. If schools want to participate, they need to register before 25 August. Entrance is FREE! See the full programme on the fair’s website: https://www.jozibookfair.org.za/

Celebrating the theme, ‘Women and Literature’, the fair brings together two literary powerhouses, Kopano Matlwa the author of the critically acclaimed novels Coconut, Spilt Milk and Period Pain, and Shailja Patel, an internationally acclaimed Kenyan poet, playwrighter, theatre artist, political activist and author of the bestseller Migritude.

The theme ‘Women and Literature’ informs the fair’s content, historicising depictions of women by both women and men, in literature and the arts globally.

Some authors at the fair: Mohale Mashigo, Marah Louw, Malebo Sephodi, Reneiloe Malatjie, Jayne Bauling, Dumisani Sibiya, Ashwin Desai, Pregs Govender, Christa Kulijan.

Legends and JBF Patrons: Zakes Mda, James Mathews, Keorapetse ‘Bra Willie’ Kgositsile, Diana Ferrus.

The highlights of this year’s fair include:

Guests & Participants
The award-winning guests of the fair, Kopano Matlwa and Shailja Patel will be in conversation about their work and on several panels.

Internationally Acclaimed Authors
Shailja Patel (Kenya)
Lindsey Collen (Mauritius)
Malin Persson Giolito (Sweden)

Conversations with authors
Media personality Penny Lebyane will be in conversation with Marah Louw on her book It’s me, Marah, Mohale Mashigo will be ‘misbehaving’ with Malebo Sephodi, author of Miss Behave, Reneilwe Malatji explores how relationships change as women gain independence with her book Love Interrupted and journalist Thandeka Gqubule will give insight into her book No Longer Whispering To Power: The Story of Thuli Madonsela.

Workshops
The fair boasts over 20 skills workshops which include writing (short stories, poetry), photography, social media, philosophy for teens, meditation for youth and dance meditation.

Book launches include the second edition of Batjha Kaofela, an anthology of ten short stories by teens from schools in townships and three books on #Feesmustfall by Leigh Ann Naidoo, Oliver Metho and Crispen Chungo, self-publishers and small publishers.

Roundtable discussions include: Women and Literature (Lindsey, Kopano, Shailja), White Monopoly Capital: What FUTURE for SA?: (Chris Malikane, D. Gqubule) and Crisis of Feminism with Nomboniso Gasa.

Panel discussions include discussions on the Mining Charter with Oxfam

Exciting exhibitions: Market Photo Workshop (women photographers), sculptor exhibition – Imbali Yo Mfazi/The Legend Of Woman by Mazwi Mdima at Workers Museum.

Music: School bands and Moses Molekwa Foundation

Theatre: Inner City Youth will be performing three iconic plays (Sizwe Bansi Is Dead, The Island and For Coloured Girls) and Botoo by Ronnie Govender.

The JBF is proud to also bring to the public the screening of the film, Whale Caller directed by Zola Maseko. The film is adapted from the book The Whale Caller by Zakes Mda.
 

Coconut

Book details

 
 

Spilt Milk

 
 

Period Pain

 
 

Migritude

 
 
 
 
It's Me, Marah

 
 
 
 
Miss Behave

 
 
 
 

Love Interrupted

 
 
 
 
No Longer Whispering to Power

 
 
 
 

The Whale Caller


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Fiction Friday: read Efemia Chela’s short story “Perigee”

Adults Only

Efemia Chela was born in Zambia but grew up in England, Ghana, Botswana and South Africa, graduating with a BA in French, Politics and Classical Civilisations from Rhodes University.

Efemia’s first published story story, “Chicken”, won third place in the 2013 Short Story Day Africa Prize, themed “Feast, Famine and Potluck”. She has since been shortlisted for the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing, and is one of the editors of Short Story Day Africa’s 2017 anthology Migrations.

“Perigee” was first published in the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) award-winning 2014 Short.Sharp.Stories Anthology, Adults Only. The story is about youth, sex and losing.

Its title refers to the stage in the moon’s orbit when it is nearest to the earth.

Perigee

As soon as my phone brought news of where she was, I tore up my room looking for perfume and the cleanest of the clothes on the floor. I thought anything would be fine as long as I could cover it with this fine brocade coat that was hiding somewhere. In hindsight I don’t know why I bothered. I had known her for so long then that she knew how the crevices of my body drew in all fabrics, no matter how loosely draped. And how I smelt a little like alliums and sour milk when I attended early morning lectures without showering.

I slammed the door and jumped two at a time down the stairs. Behind me, my next-door neighbour shouted threats of filing a complaint. I wondered why loud noises bothered her in a way that my dealing never did. I ran, wind rushing in my ears, ricocheting off the clips in my hair. So fast, I didn’t even notice the girth of the moon. Only later I would realise how full, how round, how milky it was. And so close. It was at its perigee waiting to be plucked from that vast black cloth by someone brave. I avoided its pupil-less gaze, afraid of what I would see in its surface.

I got there quickly, my heavy breath arrived a step ahead of me. The bar was full of locals who didn’t bother look up when I walked in. They could smell I was harmless. I caught a glimpse of myself in the cracked mirror just before the pool tables. I looked uncharacteristically beautiful. Maybe it was the moonlight. My looks flickered on and off like a faulty lamp and I never knew when things were in my favour aesthetically. I took a second look in the mirror and saw a kind of mournful beauty like an old silent movie star, losing to the talkies. Losing. Losing. Losing.

I searched for her. Now that she had cut her hair it took double the time. Still that wasn’t very long. I had memorised her silhouette like a redemptive prayer. “Meryl. Meryl,”my heart murmured. I knew almost certainly she’d be in the outdoor bunker, under the fairy lights where you could smoke a joint with the owner’s blessing. I pushed the slow stickied door with an open palm and regretted it instantly. Should have used my sleeve. I put my clean hand on her sloping left shoulder. She looked up and smiled all the way to the curve of her eyelashes. That smile had the same effect on me every time. It stirred the pot and thickened the evening’s plot. My lips queasily formed the word, “Hi.”

“You look really bleak with life, friend,” Meryl said as I sat down opposite her in the bottle green booth. “I’m so glad you came. I was really worried about you.”

She reached over to clasp my hand. I felt the jab of one her pointy rings.

“Yeah. Well… unrequited love isn’t easy. It’s a fucking nightmare. It’s a lot like being a monk but there are no orange robes,” I said.

“Bummer. You look good in orange,” she joked. “But I don’t get it, monks? How? No sex?”

“You’re believing in something. Something… which most people don’t believe in. And honestly which can’t, with real incontrovertible proof, be said to truly exist.”

“Or a person. A person who doesn’t exist,” she said. “He can’t exist the way you want him to. You know that. He’s a bastard! I get it. I know what you see in him. You see everything that’s bad for you and that makes you want it more.”

“My moth tendencies…,” I offered weakly.

“He’s going to fuck you up!”

I ignored her. The pot calling the kettle harmful and all that.

Betty swaggered up to Meryl, the intrusion stopping wherever our conversation was going. All bound breasts and big lies she placed her hand firmly where mine had just been. It seemed to fit there better. It might as well have been a hot brand. Fuck, I hated her and her greasy confidence. She could make you feel like you were enough. “You were all and that was it,” her exes all testified. Betty had the pushiness of someone much older spiked with the hard-headedness of someone much younger. I’d never seen her sit down. Her grasping nature wouldn’t permit it. That and I’m sure one of her exes had a hit out on her. She used her ruthlessness to beat her way in the world and beat people out of it. She didn’t meet people so much as manhandle them. Sometimes I thought I could see the very cogs whirring behind her sharp temples.

This was who Meryl had chosen to be hurt by. But people can live off hurt. They can’t live off nothing. So they kept on.

Continue reading here.

 

Book details

 
 

Migrations


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Binyavanga Wainaina to deliver a talk at Wits University

Binyavanga Wainaina is a celebrated Kenyan writer with a storied career. Wainaina recently moved to Johannesburg and this will be his first big public talk in South Africa.

Achal Prabhala and Danai Mupotso will introduce Wainaina, covering his accomplishments over the past 15 years, and conversing with him on multiple aspects of his writing career including:

His satirical piece for Granta magazine which garnered international recognition on “how to write about Africa“.

A scathing letter directed to the Caine Prize, and his memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place.

Prabhala and Mupotso will also discuss Wainaina’s coming out essay that made world headlines.

The event will take place on Tuesday 25 July, 6 PM at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Humanities Graduate Centre’s Seminar Room.

One Day I Will Write about This Place

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Fiction Friday: read Bushra al-Fadil’s winning entry for the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing

The Sudanese writer Bushra al-Fadil was announced as the winner of the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing on 3 July. His story, “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, translated by Max Shmookler, was published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction (Comma Press, UK, 2016).

Press release from the Caine Prize for African Writing:

Bushra al-Fadil has won the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for his short story entitled “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, translated by Max Shmookler, published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction (Comma Press, UK. 2016). The Chair of Judges, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, announced Bushra al-Fadil as the winner of the £10,000 prize at an award dinner this evening (Monday, 3 July) held for the first time in Senate House, London, in partnership with SOAS as part of their centenary celebrations. As a translated story, the prize money will be split – with £7,000 going to Bushra and £3,000 to the translator, Max Shmookler.

“The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away” vividly describes life in a bustling market through the eyes of the narrator, who becomes entranced by a beautiful woman he sees there one day. After a series of brief encounters, tragedy unexpectedly befalls the woman and her young female companion.

Nii Ayikwei Parkes praised the story, saying, “the winning story is one that explores through metaphor and an altered, inventive mode of perception – including, for the first time in the Caine Prize, illustration – the allure of, and relentless threats to freedom. Rooted in a mix of classical traditions as well as the vernacular contexts of its location, Bushra al-Fadil’s “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, is at once a very modern exploration of how assaulted from all sides and unsupported by those we would turn to for solace we can became mentally exiled in our own lands, edging in to a fantasy existence where we seek to cling to a sort of freedom until ultimately we slip into physical exile.”

Bushra al-Fadil is a Sudanese writer living in Saudi Arabia. His most recent collection Above a City’s Sky was published in 2012, the same year Bushra won the al-Tayeb Salih Short Story Award. Bushra holds a PhD in Russian language and literature.

Read “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away” here:

The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away
Bushra al-Fadil

Translated by Max Shmookler

 
There I was, cutting through a strange market crowd – not just people shopping for their salad greens, but beggars and butchers and thieves, prancers and Prophet-praisers and soft-sided soldiers, the newly-arrived and the just-retired, the flabby and the flimsy, sellers roaming and street kids groaning, god-damners, bus-waiters and white-robed traders, elegant and fumbling.

And there in the midst, our elected representatives, chasing women with their eyes and hands and whole bodies, with those who couldn’t give chase keeping pace with an indiscrete and
sensual attention, or lost in a daydream.

I cut, sharp-toothed, carving a path through the crowd when a passerby clutched his shoulder in pain, followed by a ‘Forgive me!’ Then a scratch on a lady’s toe was followed with a quick ‘Oh no!’ Then a slap to another’s cheek, after which was heard ‘Forgiveness is all I seek!’

So lost in dreams I could not wait for their reply to my apology.

The day was fresher than a normal summer day, and I could feel delight turbaned around my head, like a Bedouin on his second visit to the city. The working women were not happy like me, nor were the housewives. I was the son of the Central Station, spider-pocketed, craning my neck to see a car accident or the commotion of a thief being caught. I was awake, descending into the street, convulsing from hunger and the hopeless search for work in the ‘cow’s muzzle’, as we say.

I suppressed my unrest. The oppressed son of the oppressed but despite all of that – happy. Could the wretched wrest my happiness from me? Hardly. Without meaning to, I wandered through these thoughts.

The people around me were a pile of human watermelons, every pile awaiting its bus. I approached one of the piles and pulled out my queuing tools – an elbow and the palm of my hand – and then together they helped my legs to hold up my daily depleted and yearly defeated body. I pulled out my eyes and began to look… and look… in all directions and to store away what I saw.

I saw a blind man looking out before him as if he were reading from that divine book which preceded all books, that book of all fates. He kept to himself as he passed before me but still I felt the coins in my pocket disappear. Then I saw a woman who was so plump that when she called out to her son – ‘Oh Hisham’ – you could feel the greasy resonance of the ‘H’ in your ears. I saw a frowning man, a boy weaving an empty tin can along the ground with his feet. I saw voices and heard boundless scents and then, suddenly, in the midst of all of that, I saw her. The dervish in my heart jumped.

I saw her: soaring without swaying, her skin the colour of wheat – not as we know it but rather as if the wheat were imitating her tone. She had the swagger of a soldier, the true heart of the people. And if you saw her, you’d never be satiated. I said to myself, ‘This is the girl whose birds flew away.’

Her round face looked like this: Her nose was like a fresh vegetable and by God, what eyes! A pharaonic neck with two taut slender chords, only visible when she turned her head. And when she turned her head, I thought all the women selling their mashed beans and salted sunflower seeds would flee, the whole street would pick up and leave only ruts where they had been, the fetid stench of blood would abandon the places where meat was sold. My thoughts fled to a future I longed for. And if you poured water over the crown of her head, it would flow down past her forehead.

She walked in waves, as if her body were an auger spiralling through a cord of wood.

She approached me. I looked myself over and straightened myself out. As she drew closer, I saw she was holding tight to a little girl who resembled her in every way but with a child’s chubbiness. Their hands were woven together as if they had been fashioned precisely in that manner, as if they were keeping each other from straying. They both knit their eyebrows nonchalantly, such that their eyes flashed, seeming to cleanse their faces from the famished stares of those around them.

‘This is the girl whose birds flew away,’ I said.

I turned to her sister and said, ‘And this must be the talisman she’s brought to steer her away from evil. How quickly her calm flew from her palm.’

I stared at them until I realised how loathsome I was in comparison. It was this that startled me, not them. I looked carefully at the talisman. Her mouth was elegant and precise as if she never ate the stewed okra that was slowly poisoning me. I glanced around and then I looked back at them, looked and looked – oh how I looked! – until a bus idled up and abruptly saved the
day. Although it was not their custom, the people made way for the two unfamiliar women, and they just hopped aboard. Through the dust kicked up by the competition around the door I found myself on the bus as well.

We lumbered forward. The man next to me was smoking and the man next to him smelled as if he were stuffed with onions. If the day were not so fresh, and were it not for the girl and her talisman and their aforementioned beauty, I would have gotten off that wretched bus without a word of apology. After five minutes, the onionised man lowed to the driver: ‘This’s my stop, buddy.’

He got off and slammed the door in a way that suggested the two of them had a long and violent history. The driver rubbed his right cheek as if the door had been slammed on him. He grumbled to himself, ‘People without a shred of mercy.’

The onion man reeled back around and threw a red eye at the driver. ‘What?’ he exploded. ‘What’d you say?’

‘Get going, by God!’ I yelled. ‘He wasn’t talking about you.’

As the bus pulled away, the onionised man’s insults and curses blended with the whine of the motor. As if the driver wanted to torment us, he continued the argument as a monologue, beginning, ‘People are animals…’

Continue reading here.


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Jacket Notes: Abubakar Adam Ibrahim discusses the characters in his award-winning novel Season of Crimson Blossoms

Published in the Sunday Times

Season of Crimson BlossomsSeason of Crimson Blossoms
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Cassava Press)

Sometimes characters walk into your mind like visitors that come with their mats, spread them out and settle down to enjoy the shade. Some stay for a short while, others stay for years. Some come in through the front door, but others, like Hassan Reza, scale the fence.

When I had persistent visions of Reza scaling a woman’s fence to rob her, but then accidentally bumping into her, I knew I had to write about these two people and the convergence of their very diverse lives. Him, 25, rascal, weed dealer, political thug and head honcho of a band of miscreants; and her, Hajiya Binta Zubairu, 55, mother, grandmother, devout Muslim and all-round good person.

What was supposed to be a simple tale evolved into something far more complex, surprising me with its range and scope.

How does one write about a chaste grandmother having a sexual relationship with a thug in a conservative Muslim community in northern Nigeria? How does one use a story like this, completely out of character with the literature that has depicted the people of this part of the world, to say important things and explore our shared humanity?

In writing I essentially relied on my characters. I followed them and recorded their stories. When I wanted to lead them, usher them down a path, they resisted. And so we had tug-of-wars that lasted days, weeks and sometimes months – we fought and gave each other the silent treatment. Some people call this writer’s block. Eventually we made concessions and moved on, reaching the finish line after four years.

And I fell in love with them, these characters. I worried about how it would be possible not to view Hajiya Binta as a cougar for taking up with a disreputable thug. And, not being overtly fond of writing sex scenes (those things are hard), I fretted about how much detail I should include.

What I completely underestimated though was how much people ended up liking Reza, the thug. Many people, mostly women, old and young, have accosted me over this character, demanding more details beyond what is conveyed in the book.

Book details


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“Hamba kahle, Emma!” Doyenne of South Africa’s trade union movement passes away

Prominent trade union veteran, women’s and human rights activist, and former Restitution of Land Rights Commissioner Emma Mashinini has passed away in her home in Pretoria at midnight last night at the age 87.

Mrs Mashinini is regarded as the doyenne of the trade union movement in South Africa, serving as a shop steward on the National Union of Clothing Workers (NUCW) and a founder of the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU) in 1975. She was integrally involved in the establishment of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in 1985.

Mrs Mashinini played several prominent roles in the transition to democracy in the 1980s and 1990s.

Funeral arrangements are being finalised and details will be communicated in due course.

Terry Morris, MD of Picador and Pan Macmillan, paid homage to this remarkable woman:

The feisty and inspirational Emma Mashinini has passed away at age 87. Emma’s memoir, Strikes Have Followed me All my Life was originally published by The Women’s Press UK in 1989 and republished by Picador Africa in South Africa in 2012 with a new foreword by Jay Naidoo.

It was a privilege to publish her book and to have her as an author on our list.

Hamba kahle Emma!

Book details


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Call for submissions: queer African erotica authored by women

HOLAAfrica! – a website dedicated to publishing written, audio and visual material by queer African women – recently announced their call for submissions for an erotic anthology titled Dark Juices and Aphrodisiacs:

Erotica is a real thing, sexual sensual writing that makes you squirm in your seat; scenes that turn a cold lonely night into something steamy; maybe something to keep you company and give you that secret smile whilst waiting for a friend in a restaurant.

Mostly we want things that will turn people on. A lot. No pressure. A little something like this, or this.

We know writing a sex scene is hard so here is an article with some tips.

This is a call for submission to Dark Juices and Aphrodisiacs: An Erotic Anthology.

The anthology will be available online to download. There will also be hard copies available. And if your piece is selected to be part of the anthology you shall be paid $100 for your service to sexiness.

Enticed? Click here for more.


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