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Archive for the ‘Nigeria’ Category

FunDza awarded UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy 2017

FunDza has been awarded the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy 2017!

The prize, supported by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, rewards work that benefits rural populations and out-of-school youth, particularly girls and women. The award ceremony will take place on International Literacy Day, celebrated on 8 September, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. This year it focuses on literacy in a digital world.

The event brings together stakeholders and decision-makers from different parts of the world to examine how digital technology can help close the literacy gap and gain better understanding of the skills needed in today’s societies.

Says Mignon Hardie, executive director of FunDza, “We feel deeply honoured by this recognition for our work to get teens and young adults across South Africa reading and writing for pleasure. Thanks go to UNESCO and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for this incredible recognition for our work. Thanks too go to all the individuals and organisations that have supported and worked with our organisation since inception.”

The other two laureates receiving the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy are:
AdulTICoProgram of the Secretariat of Information and Communications Technologies of the city of Armenia (Colombia), for teaching digital competencies to seniors.

The Citizens Foundation (Pakistan) for its Aagahi Literacy Programme for Women and Out-of-School Girls, which conducts digital educational needs assessments and provides teaching services to support the education of younger girls and older women.

There are also two awards given for the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize, dedicated to mother-tongue literacy education and training, sponsored by the Republic of Korea. These go to:
Centre for the Study of Learning & Performance (CSLP) at Concordia University (Canada), for the Using Educational Technology to Develop Essential Educational Competencies in Sub-Saharan Africa project, which develops and distributes its material internationally free of charge.

We Love Reading (Jordan), a programme with a virtual community that offers online read-aloud trainings for parents, mobilises volunteers to read aloud in community spaces to children and provides age-appropriate material through a digital library.

Click here for the official UNESCO press release.

FunDza’s online platform – fundza.mobi – houses a library that is accessible through mobile phones, tablets and computers and is reaching thousands of young readers on a daily basis. FunDza is continuously creating new content for the platform to encourage young people to make reading a daily habit, and to inspire them to write too.

In the last financial year, fundza.mobi reached more than 570,000 individual readers. And, at present it is reaching around 70,000 committed readers each month, who read on average for 15 minute periods on their phones.

In addition to the online platform, FunDza is supporting beneficiary groups around the country with locally-created, exciting print books that ignite a love of reading. Since inception, FunDza has supported more than 500 groups who on average reach 100+ individual learners or readers. Through this network, FunDza is getting reading materials into the hands of those who need it most.

Mignon Hardie notes, “We believe that reading stories changes lives. We get incredible feedback from our readers who say that they are now able to read first thing in the morning or last thing at night thanks to fundza.mobi. They also share how stories are impacting on their lives – not only in terms of language acquisition but also through the power of stories to connect with their hearts and minds.”

Here are just a few quotes from readers saying what reading with FunDza has meant to them:

“What I enjoy on Fundza is I like reading some stories and almost it is true. Some stories made me think of how to be in life, how to fight battles and believe in yourself. I enjoy reading stories on Fundza.”
Sibongile

“Whenever I get an update on the Fundza whatsapp contact about recent stories I don’t hesitate to forward the message to my friends and dive head first into reading them. They are by far the best short stories I’ve ever read and they sure know how to quench one’s thirst.”
Mankgane

“Life and love lessons. I love reading the awesome stories writen by the brilliant writers. Some times i get carried away with reading that i even forget my house chores and burn pots while cooking!”
Gugu

“I enjoy stories that are told by South Africans writers about South African people. It inspires me because I realize that there is too much talent and I’m happy that fundza is there for people who are book worms because a person who reads is an interesting person and interested in people.”
Zanele

“It has improved my comprehension skills which still need polishing hence I need to join the online course but mostly fundza has inspired me to learn to be a writer because I’ve got an adventurous imagination and fundza has given me hope that one day I’ll will be able to write an award winning story.”
Ngwane

“Since the stories are almost published in almost every South African languages I get to learn how to read and understand new languages and also learn some of the words I didn’t know that they even existed.”
Lebogang

“From one of the stories I’ve read,I’ve learned that I should report a person who is violating human rights such as mistreating people with disability. Young people give up on their future because of the background they’re coming from, but I’ve learnt not ever to let the background I’m coming from describe who I am and to use the opportunity I’m given to build myself a better future.”
Thato

“Fundza is more than just a website where we read but it is a page where we learn, experience and grow … it also helps people to solve their problems … there are stories that some of us relate to and in the end we find solutions…”
Kabelo


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Dark mirrors: readers are lapping up stories about our bleak times

Published by Jennifer Platt for the Sunday Times

Dystopian fiction has knocked the glistening vampire off the young adult shelf. It is hardly a new genre – think Lord of the Flies, 1984 – but there has been a steady uptake of these novels for young adult readers. Maybe it is because these novels are mirrors of our world, which is a terrifying place.

Dystopian fiction recognises the crisis we are in today and through an alternative prism allows the reader to play out worst-case scenarios. The protagonist is often a young person trying to overcome odds like love triangles and fighting the controlled social structure of the new broken world.

It gives the younger reader a chance to relate; a way to view society and possibly solve problems.

But it’s not only younger readers who are immersing themselves in these bleak realms. Many people enjoy a good yarn and most of the stories are just that. These lesser-known novels will hopefully appeal to most dystopian fans.

AsylumAsylum, Marcus Low
Set in the Great Karoo, Low’s story plays out in a not-too-distant future in which a lethal, incurable illness kills off most of the population. Barry James is one of the sick – imprisoned and quarantined in an asylum where he is expected to die.
 
 
 
 
The PowerThe Power, Naomi Alderman
The Baileys Prize-winning novel imagines a world where women have the ability to electrocute men at will. It’s a work of contemporary feminism that confronts today’s patriarchal system.
 
 
 
 
Station ElevenStation Eleven, Emily St John Mandel
A travelling theatre troupe, a deadly strain of swine flu and destructive relationships are the basis for this award-winning novel set in the Great Lakes region of the US and Canada.
 
 
 
 
 
Apocalypse Now NowApocalypse Now Now, Charlie Human
Baxter’s life as the 16-year-old drug kingpin of his school changes when his girlfriend Esme is kidnapped. To save her, he goes into the dark, supernatural underground of Cape Town. Trippy.
 
 
 
 
Who Fears DeathWho Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor
Okorafor tweeted that her novel has been optioned by HBO to develop as a TV series with Game of Thrones author George RR Martin as executive producer. Dealing with race, ethnicity and female sexual empowerment, it focuses on 16-year-old Onyesonwu who must learn to navigate life in post-apocalyptic Sudan.
 
 
 
 
The RaftThe Raft, Fred Strydom
Humanity has lost its memory. Civilisation collapses. Kayle Jenner has vague visions of his son and as he sets out to find him, he discovers the truth about the world’s memory loss. Set partly in the Tsitsikamma forest and Kroonstad, The Raft explores existential and philosophical questions.
 
 
 
 
The Knife of Never Letting GoThe Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness
The first of a series called Chaos Walking. Todd is the last boy in Prentisstown, where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts through something called the Noise. About information overload, it’s relevant as we are swamped by the noise of social media.
 
 
 
 
Dark Windows, Louis Greenberg
The Gaia Peace Party has been in power in South Africa for 10 years, promising a cure for crime. A contractor for the party is given the job of blackening the windows of several Joburg buildings. The dark windows project shows the cracks in the ruling party. A too-close-to-home political thriller.
 
 
 
 
Book details


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Fiction Friday: read Chimamanda Ngozi’s Adichie’s short story ‘How Did You Feel About It?’

The critically acclaimed author and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient whose TEDx-talk on feminism was appropriated in Beyoncé’s “Flawless”, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, recently wrote an exclusive, original short story for Harper’s Bazaar. Chimamanda is the author of novels Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, The Thing Around Your Neck, and Americanah. Besides being a globally renowned writer, she is an advocate for gender equality, and vocal supporter of the representation of African culture in the international literary sphere. Enjoy!

‘How Did You Feel About It?’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In the quiet carriage we sat angled away from each other. We always rode the quiet carriage, but today it felt like a gift: a reason not to talk. Jonathan in his maroon sweater cradling his iPad. The sunlight weak, the morning uncertain. I was staring at the magazine in my hand, deeply breathing in and out, a willed and deliberate breathing, aware of itself. Breathe – such an easy target for scorn, so often summoned as panacea for our modern ills. But it worked. It helped push away my sense of engulfing tedium, even if only for brief moments. How does this happen? How do you wake up one morning and begin to question your life?

Jonathan shifted on his seat. I kept my eyes on the magazine, to discourage any whispered conversation.

“Something has been on your mind,” he told me that morning as he buttered a piece of toast. I kept silent, slowly spooning muesli into my mouth, and he said nothing more. Why hadn’t he asked me a question? Why hadn’t he asked “What is on your mind?” A question was braver than a statement. A question forced a reckoning. But Jonathan avoided direct questions because they had in them an element of confrontation. His dislike of confrontation I had once found endearing. It made him a person who thrived on peace, and so a life with him would be a kind of seamless happiness.

When he did ask questions, they seemed always to seek reassurance rather than information. His first question to me, shortly after we met years ago, was about servants. I had mentioned the drivers and househelps of my Lagos childhood, and his question followed: How did you feel about it all? Because servants were foreign to him, a relationship with them had become a matter of morality. He told me that when he first could afford weekly Polish cleaners for his London flat, he had hidden in the spare room while they cleaned, so ashamed was he of paying somebody to scrub his toilet.

For Jonathan to ask “How did you feel about it all?” was not really about how I felt, but about a moral code I was supposed to follow. I was to say: “I felt terrible. I worried about their welfare.” But the truth was I felt nothing because it was the life I knew. Had he asked me “What is on your mind?” that morning and had I said “I am wondering if this is the life I want, and what I have missed out on in the years we’ve been together,” he would have no answer for me. Because I was not supposed to think such things. It was unfair to do so. Wrong. That we sometimes think what we are not supposed to, and feel what we wish we did not, was something Jonathan was unable to grasp.

From across the aisle came a loud voice. An elderly American man talking on the phone, his accent distinct, face burnt red as though fresh from a holiday. In the clammy silence of the carriage, his words sounded unnatural, as though coming from somewhere else. Jonathan shifted and sighed, then shifted again. A man turned and rolled his eyes. A woman shook her head.

Why didn’t one of them tell the American that this was the quiet carriage? I guessed, from a bluffness in his manner, that he did not know. Jonathan was seated closest to the American, he had only to reach out across the aisle and gesture to the man and in his modulated voice say something. But he would not. Jonathan would shift and sigh and shift again but would say nothing. I once thought this sweet. I would have teased him about the English ritual of passive aggression, so easily inflamed by the presence of an American.

The quirks that had first charmed me about Jonathan were suddenly scourges designed for my irritation. His sensitivity was weakness. What I thought his innocence was now self-indulgent naiveté. Nothing had happened. Jonathan had done nothing wrong, I had not met anyone else. It was merely that one morning I woke up and felt undone. I began to struggle to shrug off a terrifying sense of something wasted, a colossal waste, leaving a dull mourning for things gone forever.

Continue reading here.

Purple Hibiscus

Book details

 
 
Half of a Yellow Sun

 
 

The Thing Around Your Neck

 
 
 
 
Americanah


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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.

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Fertility rights: Kate Sidley talks to Ayòbámi Adébáyò about her novel Stay With Me

Published in the Sunday Times

Stay With MeStay With Me *****
Ayòbámi Adébáyò (Canongate)

Ayòbámi Adébáyò has been writing as long as she can remember. While her classmates were copying down what the science teacher had put up on the chalkboard, she’d be writing poetry.

“One teacher caught me and sent me to the principal,” she recalls, and laughs: “It didn’t help.”

Fortunately, as it turned out, because her first novel, Stay With Me, was short-listed for The Baileys Women’s Fiction Prize. It didn’t win, but is reaping praise from readers and reviewers alike.

Set in Nigeria in the turbulent 1980s, the novel tells of Yejide and Akin, a young couple deeply in love. Their inability to have a child, plus interfering from Akin’s mother and their extended family, puts their marriage under strain.

Adébáyò grew up in a society where a married couple was expected to conceive a child within a year, and if there was no child after a couple of years the marriage would likely break down. “I wanted to take a closer look at the impact of this pressure. The people who are emotionally invested in the couple don’t mean them harm, they think they’re doing the best for them or one of them, but it doesn’t work out as they intend.”

Yejide is a modern woman with her own hairdressing business, but that’s insignificant in the face of her failure. She is deemed the culprit and told: “Yejide, have you ever seen God in the labour ward? Women manufacture children and if you can’t? You are just a man. Nobody should call you a woman.”

When Yejide finds that Akin has taken a second wife at his family’s insistence, in the hope that she’ll provide the longed-for grandchild, she knows the only way to save her marriage is to have a child herself. In a scene that is heart-wrenching and also funny she visits Prophet Josiah at the Mountain of Jaw-Dropping Miracles. Obeying his instruction, she drags a goat up to the summit and breastfeeds it. The goat — despite her scepticism — “appeared to be a newborn and I believed”.

“I felt that it was important to have a comic edge, because there were moments of such despair for Yejide. Even when things are terrible, people laugh, it’s one of the ways we cope,” says Adébáyò, who did a creative writing MA at the University of East Anglia, and is now fiction editor of a literary magazine.

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Ayòbámi Adébáyò confirmed for South African Book Fair

The South African Book Development Council has announced that the South African Book Fair will be hosting Ayòbámi Adébáyò, recently shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Fiction Prize for her remarkable debut novel, Stay with Me. Ayòbámi will join the SABF 2017 for several sessions: book-club reads; discussions on creating spaces for women’s fiction; and readings from a work in progress.

The oraganisers of the South African Book Fair (SABF) 2017 hope to engage with the following questions:

What are the narratives that move us as a continent? Are these the same for all Africans? Would reading each other’s stories change our outlook fundamentally? Would it nudge us towards a different future? Perhaps, even, a new vision of the African continent?

To get the ball rolling, SABF 2017 has invited key African writers and literary producers to participate in these debates, including:

Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, founder of Cassava Republic Press – one of the continent’s most industrious and successful publishing houses – will participate in mapping ways in which we might grow the African book market.

Lola Shoneyin, founder of the ground-breaking Ake Arts & Book Festival in Lagos, will participate in discussions about the state of democracy and, importantly, the lives and future of women in Africa.

Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ (co-founder of the Cornell-Kiswahili Prize) and Billy Kahora (managing editor of Kwani, the publication of the Kenyan-based literary network and advocacy trust), will engage with us and each other about reading and books, and the future of these on the African continent.

It’s all happening at the www.southafricanbookfair.co.za 8-10 September 2017, Museum Africa, Newtown, Johannesburg.

Stay With Me

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First round of international authors for Open Book Festival 2017 announced

The authors have been announced for the seventh Open Book Festival and you can have the chance to play a part in it.

Brought to you by the Book Lounge and The Fugard Theatre, Open Book Festival will be presented from 6 to 10 September, once again offering a world-class selection of book launches, panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses, readings, performances and more. The event, which also includes the popular Comics Fest, #cocreatePoetica, children’s and outreach programmes, takes place at The Fugard Theatre, District Six Homecoming Centre and The Book Lounge in Cape Town.

Open Book Festival has established itself as one of South Africa’s most innovative and leading book festivals. Last year, nearly 10 000 people attended the festival’s 125 events featuring 251 authors and it has been shortlisted twice for the London Book Fair Excellence Awards. It is committed to creating a platform to celebrate South African writers, as well as hosting top international authors. The festival strives to instill an interest in and love of reading among young attendees, while the programme is designed to engage, entertain and inspire conversations among festival goers long after the event.

“In addition to announcing the first round of incredible international authors for Open Book Festival 2017, we are inviting people to help be a part of it and launching a Thundafund campaign for this year’s festival,” says festival director Mervyn Sloman.

“Anyone who works on major events will have an understanding of the budgetary challenges and current financial climate that are part and parcel of the sector. Open Book is no different and while we continue to work with key sponsors, we are inviting people who recognise the value of the festival to get involved and support us, so we can retain our independence and continue to put on an event of the scale and calibre visitors have come to expect. You can support the campaign for as little as R100 and every rand makes a difference.”

To contribute visit www.thundafund.com/project/openbookfestival

“We are excited to be announcing our first round of international authors and have again compiled a useful guide of their books so you can start reading now.”

Author: Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (Nigeria)
Books include: Stay With Me
Why we’re excited: Ayọ̀bámi was shortlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. In 2015, she was listed by the Financial Times as one of the bright stars of Nigerian literature. She has been a writer in residence at numerous institutions and she was shortlisted for the Miles Morland Scholarship in 2014 and 2015.
 
 
Author: Paul Beatty (USA)
Books include: Slumberland, Tuff, The White Boy Shuffle and The Sellout. Also poetry book Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. Editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor
Why we’re excited: The current Man Booker Winner for The Sellout.
 
 
 

Author: Maylis de Kerangal (France. Attending thanks to the support of IFAS)
Books include: Mend the Living, Birth of a Bridge; the novella Tangente vers l’est
Why we’re excited: Mend the Living was longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2016 and won the Wellcome Book Prize 2017.
 
 
Author: Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe)
Books include: The Book of Memory and short story collections An Elegy for Easterly and Rotten Row
Why we’re excited: An Elegy for Easterly won the Guardian First Book Prize in 2009.
 
 
 
Author: Nathan Hill (USA)
Books include: The Nix
Why we’re excited: Hill’s debut novel The Nix was named one of the year’s best books by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Slate and Amazon, among others. It was also the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction and will be published worldwide in 30 languages.
 
 
Author: Elina Hirvonen (Finland. Attending thanks to the support of the Embassy of Finland)
Books include: When I Forgot, Farthest from Death, When Time Runs Out
Why we’re excited: This acclaimed author, journalist and documentary filmmaker has had her work translated into seven languages. When Time Runs Out was chosen as ‘The Most Important Book of the Year 2015’ in a project by the Finnish Broadcasting Company.
 
Author: Scaachi Koul (Canada. Attending thanks to the support of Canada Council for the Arts)
Books include: Her debut collection of essays in One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter
Why we’re excited: A culture writer for BuzzFeed, Scaachi’s writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Hairpin, The Globe and Mail, and Jezebel.
 
 
Author: Ali Land (UK)
Books include: Good Me Bad Me
Why we’re excited: Good Me Bad Me has been translated into over twenty languages. After graduating from university with a degree in Mental Health, Ali Land spent a decade working as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health nurse in hospitals and schools in the UK and Australia.
 
 
Author: Ken Liu (USA)
Books include: The Grace of Kings, The Wall of Storms, The Paper Menagerie
Why we’re excited: Liu’s short stories have won a Nebula, two Hugos, a World Fantasy Award and a Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Award. His short story, “The Paper Menagerie”, was the first work of fiction to win all three major science fiction awards, the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award.
 
 
Author: Fiston Mwanza Mujila (DRC. Attending thanks to the support of the Goethe Institut)
Books include: Tram 83
Why we’re excited: His writing has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Prix du Monde and he was longlisted for MB International
 
 
 

Author: Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria)
Books include: The Spider King’s Daughter, Welcome to Lagos
Why we’re excited: The Spider King’s Daughter was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize, and was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Etisalat Prize for Literature.
 
 
 

Author: Malin Persson Giolito (Sweden. Attending thanks to the support of The Embassy of Sweden)
Books include: Quicksand, the first of her novels to be translated into English
Why we’re excited: A former lawyer, her novel Quicksand was awarded the Best Crime Novel of the Year Award 2016, Sweden’s official suspense literature award, which is given by the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy.
 
 
Author: Carl Frode Tiller (Norway. Attending thanks to support from NORLA)
Books include: The Encircling trilogy, Skråninga (The Slope)
Why we’re excited: His awards include the European Union Prize for Literature and Nordic Critics Prize. His Encircling trilogy has been twice nominated for the Nordic Council’s Prize. The trilogy is considered one of the great contemporary portraits of Nordic life. It has been adapted for the theatre and published in eighteen languages.
 
Author: Iman Verjee
Books include: Who will Catch us as we Fall, In Between Dreams
Why we’re excited: Winner of the 2012 Peters Fraser & Dunlop/City University Prize for Fiction for her debut novel In Between Dreams.
 
 
 
 
Author: Alex Wheatle (UK)
Books include: Crongton Knights, Liccle Bit, Brixton Rock, East of Acre Lane, The Seven Sisters, Island Songs, Checkers, The Dirty South
Why we’re excited: Known as ‘the Brixton Bard’ Alex was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to literature in 2008. He is UK’s most read Black British author, with his books on school reading lists, he takes part in Black History Month every year, works with Booktrust and the Children’s Discovery Centre to promote reading and represents English PEN. Crongton Knights won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2016.
 
Author: Zoe Whittall (Canada. Attending thanks to support from Canada Council for the Arts)
Books include: The Best Kind of People, Holding Still for as Long as Possible
Why we’re excited: This award-winning Canadian author won a Lambda Literary award, was shortlisted for the Relit award, and was an American Library Association’s Stonewall Honor Book for Holding Still for as Long as Possible. She has also published three books of poetry.

The final programme will be available in early August, at which point bookings can be made at www.webtickets.co.za.

The seventh Open Book Festival will take place from 6 to 10 September at The Fugard Theatre, D6 Homecoming Centre, and The Book Lounge, from 10:00 to 21:00 each day. For further information visit www.openbookfestival.co.za.

For more information about and to support the Thundafund campaign, visit www.thundafund.com/project/openbookfestival

The Open Book Festival is made possible thanks to the support of its sponsors and partners: Leopard’s Leap, The Fugard Theatre, The District Six Museum, Open Society Foundation, Kingdom of the Netherlands, City of Cape Town, Townhouse Hotel, Penguin Random House, NB Publishers, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Pan Macmillan Publishers, The French Institute of South Africa, The Canada Council for the Arts, NORLA, the Embassy of Finland, the Embassy of Sweden, Dutch Foundation for Literature, PEN SA and the Goethe-Institut.

Stay With Me

Book details

 
 
 
Slumberland

 
 
 
 
Mend the Living

 
 
 

When I Forgot

 
 
 

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter

 
 
 

Good Me, Bad Me

 
 
 

The Grace of Kings

 
 
 

Tram 83

 
 
 

The Spider King\'s Daughter

 
 
 

Quicksand

 
 
 

Encircling

 
 
 

Who Will Catch Us As We Fall

 
 
 

Crongton Knights

 
 
 

The Best Kind of People

 
 
 

The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah
EAN: 9780571249916
Find this book with BOOK Finder!


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Jowhor Ile awarded Etisalat Prize for Literature

Nigerian author Jowhor Ile has been announced as the winner of the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature for his novel And After Many Days.

The Etisalat Prize is the first ever pan-African prize celebrating first time writers of published fiction books.

Award-winning novelist and poet, Helon Habila, served as the chair of the judging panel for the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Fiction and declared And After Many Days as a novel which met the required standards of originality, creative excellence and African sensibility, in keeping with the objective of the Etisalat Prize – to promote literary excellence in Africa.

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Six West African books with unconventional approaches to gender and power, as recommended by Chinelo Okparanta


Nigerian-American author Chinelo Okparanta recently compiled a list for Electric Literature of six West African books with an unconventional, defiant approach to gender relations and relationships.

Okparanta drew upon her own experience as a child of parents whose marriage was based on inequality and oppression; she writes: “Perhaps I recognized it in my parents’ marriage as my mother underwent one painful and exhausting move after another, following my father everywhere he went, because, she too, had not yet conceived of happiness outside the realm of marriage.

In my novel, Under the Udala Trees, I explore the themes of betrayal and rebirth and happiness in the context of gender and power. In writing the novel, I imagined, unlike Ramatoulaye, a sort of happiness that existed outside of the traditional schema of marriage. Or rather, I imagined the pursuit of that sort of happiness. The fundamental desires of my protagonist, Ijeoma, are unconventional in her West African setting in the sense that she does not find her value via an attachment to a man. Lately, I’ve been interested in finding other West African authors who are also unconventional in their portrayal of love and marriage, of gender and power. The following are my top six:”

Stay With Me
1. Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Akin and Yejide have trouble conceiving a child. Years of struggling leads Yejide to a prophet who stipulates that she find a goat and engage in a goat ceremony. Yejide even winds up breastfeeding the goat. With expertly maneuvered, almost incredible, certainly unpredictable plot twists, the end result is a deconstruction of the concepts of masculinity and femininity and a rejection of traditional customs of marriage. The novel asks us: What does it mean to be strong? Is strength a woman who carries on serving her husband his meal even after he has betrayed her, or is she in fact weak? Is weakness a man who acquiesces to his mother’s persistent demands, rather than resisting — rather than summoning up the strength to stand proudly by his wife?

 
 
 
 
 
What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky
2. What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Arimah

In this collection, we see love in many forms, but particularly, we see stories with young Nigerian women whose sexuality is not boxed up like some shameful secret, tucked away beneath a pile of blankets. These young women do not apologize for their existence as sexual beings; or at least they do not apologize in the traditional, self-deprecating sort of way. “Wild” presents a young woman who has had a baby outside of marriage and refuses to give in to her mother’s condemnation of her. The story itself is not quite an embracing of untraditional ideals, but a lifting up of the veil of taboo enough that by the end of this story, the young woman and her child are still portrayed with dignity. “Light” begins with the beautiful description of Enebeli’s fourteen year old daughter, who sends a boy a note, and it is not the first time. She writes, “Buki, I love you. I will give you many sons.” What is beautiful about this declaration is the girl’s own ownership of her intentions. The script is flipped here, which is to say that the demand is not being put upon her. NOT: “You must give your husband many sons.” Rather, she is the one in the power position here, and she acknowledges not only her authority to give, but also the fact that it is her will.
 
 
Homegoing
3. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Two half-sisters grow up not knowing about each other. One sister becomes the “wench” of a British officer, unable to claim the title of “wife” — “wife” being a word reserved for white women. The other sister becomes a slave to the British, and goes on to give birth to a girl who also becomes a slave in Mississippi, USA. The bulk of literary criticism on Homegoing thus far has focused on the slave narrative and the purported complicity of Africans in selling themselves. What interests me, however, is the highly women-focused bent of the novel, the story really beginning with Esi and Effia. Though men certainly have their parts in the novel, these women are at once the subject and object of the story, both the water and the fire, whose lineages scald and flow into contemporary times. Effie and Esi are the ancestral characters whose spirits linger, long after they themselves, and their husbands, are gone.
 
 
 
 
Season of Crimson Blossoms
4. Season of Crimson Blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
Embracing desire, fifty-five year old widow Binta falls into a love affair with a twenty-five year old gang leader and weed dealer named Reza. And why not? After a marriage marked by sexual repression, she craves intimacy. Set in Northern Nigeria, this bold new narrative tackles romance and eroticism in ways that defy the conservative culture of the North. Things get a bit tricky when Binta’s son confronts Reza about the affair.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun
5. Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Manyika
This beautiful, compact novel is a meditation on female aging and desire, as Dr. Morayo Da Silva, a seventy-four year old Nigerian woman living in San Francisco, narrates aspects of her life, past and present, in delightfully witty and poignant prose. Aging was never so hip, femininity never as powerful.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Behold the Dreamers
6. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
There is a married couple here. In fact, no, there are two married couples in this utterly beautiful and absorbing novel — Cameroonians Neni and Jende Jonga, and Americans Cindy and Clark Edwards. And yet, it is a triangular affair. Imagine an equilateral triangle where two sides are represented by each couple and the third by a country. You see, both couples are also in the midst of a tumultuous love affair with America. America becomes a genderless character whose power crumbles as the financial crisis takes root and the human story progresses.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Literary Crossroads with Imraan Coovadia (SA) & Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Nigeria)

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.

The guest speakers for the upcoming talk (to take place on May 16) will be Imraan Coovadia and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim. The discussion will be moderated by Danyela Dimakatso Demir.

About the guests:

Imraan Coovadia is a writer and director of the creative writing programme at UCT. His most recent novel is Tales of the Metric System (2014), which appeared in the US, South Africa, India, and Germany.

He is the author of The Institute for Taxi Poetry (2012), winner of the M-Net Prize, and a collection of essays, “Transformations” (2012), which won the South African Literary Award for Creative Non-Fiction. In 2010 his novel High Low In-between won the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and the University of Johannesburg prize. He has published a scholarly monograph with Palgrave, “Authority and Authorship in V.S. Naipaul” (2009), two earlier novels, and a number of journal articles. His fiction has been published in a number of countries, and he has written for many newspapers, journals, and magazines here and overseas, including the New York Times, N+1, Agni, the Times of India, and Threepenny Review.

Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is a Nigerian writer and journalist. His debut collection of short stories The Whispering Trees was long-listed for the Etisalat Prize for Literature in 2014, with the title story shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing. His debut novel Season of Crimson Blossoms was published in the UK in May 2016 by Cassava Republic Press. Abubakar is a Gabriel Garcia Marquez Fellow (2013) and a Civitella Ranieri Fellow (2015). In 2014, Abubakar was named in the Hay Festival Africa39 list of the most promising writers under the age of 40 who will define future trends in African writing. Abubakar is the recipient of the 2016 Goethe-Institut & Sylt Foundation African Writer’s Residency Award. He lives in Abuja, Nigeria.

Event Details

The Institute for Taxi Poetry

Book details

 
 
Tales of the Metric System

 
 
 

The Whispering Trees

 
 
 

Season of Crimson Blossoms


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