Archive for the ‘Nigeria’ Category
Alert! The Franschhoek Literary Festival organisers have allowed Books LIVE to share a sneak preview of the updated list of international authors confirmed to attend this year’s event.
The 2015 Franschhoek Literary Festival takes place from Friday, 15 May, to Sunday, 17 May, and there are a number of big names to look forward to.
Books LIVE revealed the provisional list of authors for FLF 2015 in December last year, but we can now share a more complete list of authors from overseas.
The list includes Nigerian writer Helon Habila, who was announced last night as a winner of this year’s Windham Campbell Literature Prize for Fiction, along with Ivan Vladislavić, who will also be at the festival to talk about his new book of short stories, 101 Detectives.
Keep an eye on Books LIVE over the next few weeks for the full list of local authors!
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Updated list of international authors for Franschhoek Literary Festival 2015
David Attwell, University of York academic, whose critical biography JM Coetzee and the life of writing, face to face with time is to be published in April.
Belinda Bauer, a British crime writer who grew up in South Africa and England. Her debut novel Blacklands won the British Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger award for the best crime novel of 2010. Read an interview with Bauer here.
Martin Bossenbroek, Dutch historian whose book De Boerenoorlog has been translated into English and Afrikaans by Jacana Media.
Chris Bradford, English author, professional musician and black belt martial artist, here for the Book Week for Young Readers programme, and an event for schools at the main festival, on Friday.
Tim Butcher, English journalist and war-correspondent, and author of the critically acclaimed Blood River, Chasing the Devil and, most recently, The Trigger.
Mark Connelly, Professor of Modern British Military History, based at Stellenbosch University, from the University of Kent.
Dorothy Driver, born in South Africa and now Professor of English at the University of Adelaide, Australia. She is also Emerita Professor at the University of Cape Town, where she retains an Honorary Research Associateship. Driver will be visiting as part of a focus on the 150th anniversary of Olive Schreiner’s birth.
Gavin Evans, born in London but grew up in Cape Town. Returned to London in 1993, where he worked as a freelance journalist (for The Guardian, Esquire, Men’s Health). His memoir Dancing Shoes is Dead was shortlisted for the Alan Paton Prize. His latest book is Black Brain, White Brain.
Eshkol Nevo, Israeli author of the Book Publishers Association Gold Prize and FFI-Raymond Wallier Prize-winning novel Homesick, as well as World Cup Wishes, and most recently Neuland.
Fiona Forde, an Irish journalist based in Cape Town who has for a number of years covered politics and current affairs in South Africa and abroad for print and radio media. Her first book on Malema, An Inconvenient Youth: Julius Malema and the ‘New’ ANC, was released in 2011, and an update version, Still an Inconvenient Youth: Julius Malema Carries On, was published last year.
Helon Habila, Nigerian novelist and poet, and winner of the 2001 Caine Prize for African Writing.
Jackie Kay, Scottish award-winning poet and novelist, with Nigerian heritage, who will judge the Poetry for Life finals at the FLF (see www.poetryforlife.co.za for more information).
John Boyne, Irish novelist, whose most recent book A History of Loneliness. Boyne will also be at the Book Week for Young Readers with The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
Lyndall Gordon, Cape Town-born award-winning biographer of Emily Dickinson, TS Eliot, Charlotte Brontë and Mary Wollstonecraft, among others, has recently published a memoir Divided Lives. (She may also be presenting a life-writing masterclass/workshop.)
Romain Puertolas, a former French border guard, who then wrote the smash hit The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe.
Morag Styles, Cambridge Professor of Children’s Poetry, who has spent a professional lifetime exploring children’s poetry from every angle.
Sarah Waters, bestselling Welsh author of six novels, the most recent of which is The Paying Guests.
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Alert! The winners of the 2015 Windham Campbell Literature Prizes have just been announced.
The prize, in its third year, is awarded to “honour and support writers anywhere in the world writing in English”, and comes with prize money of $150,000.
There are three categories – fiction, nonfiction, and drama – and three winners in each category.
The 2015 winners are, in fiction: Teju Cole, Helon Habila, and Ivan Vladislavić; in nonfiction: Edmund de Waal, Geoff Dyer, and John Jeremiah Sullivan; and, in drama: Jackie Sibblies Drury, Helen Edmundson, and Debbie Tucker Green.
The prizes were announced by Peter Salovey, the 23rd president of Yale University, at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library today.
Winners will receive their prizes at a ceremony and literary festival at Yale from 28 September to 1 October, 2015.
Michael Kelleher, the director of the Windham Campbell Prizes, introduced the prizes, saying: “Today’s recipients did not know they had been nominated. Nominations were solicited confidentially from literary and theatre professionals from across the globe.”
After the announcement, Kelleher explained how he had telephoned all the winners just after the selection process and put them on speakerphone: “The prizes are becoming a bit more well-known now, so I don’t think anybody thought that it was a Nigerian fishing scam this year, which quite a few of them did last year. I think my favourite response this year was when one of the prize winners said, in front of the whole selection committee, ‘You know, if this is a practical joke, this is the meanest practical joke anyone has every played on me!’
“But as ever, nobody had any idea they had been nominated. They were all very surprised and very appreciative. And really touched by the fact that, first of all, they were on the radar, and second of all that their prize nomination went through this very long and rigorous process.”
When asked about the international nature of the prize, Kelleher said: “We have a limited number of nominations that are available each year, only about 20 to 25 in each category, so within that I seek to cast as wide a net as possible while also maintaining the high standards of the nominees that we’ve come to expect every year.
“So not every country in the English-speaking world gets represented every single year, but when they do get represented we try to make sure that there’s a certain amount of saturation, so when judges are looking at their work, they’re seeing other writers from those parts of the world and comparing them to each other, but also comparing them to writers from everywhere else.
“I travelled to other countries, I spent two weeks in Australia last summer, meeting a lot of the literary folks from down there, so hopefully they’ll have some solid representation in the coming years, and I continue to do that in different parts of the world.”
Watch the prize announcement:
NINE INTERNATIONAL WINDHAM CAMPBELL PRIZEWINNERS ANNOUNCED
Recipients, chosen for fiction, nonfiction, and drama, each receive $150,000 unrestricted grants
NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 24–– The Windham Campbell Prizes announced today its third round of prizewinners, chosen confidentially in three categories –– fiction, nonfiction, and drama ––to honor and support writers anywhere in the world writing in English. The awards, which come with a $150,000 check, can be given for a body of work or extraordinary promise. The 2015 winners are, in fiction: Teju Cole, Helon Habila, and Ivan Vladislavić; in nonfiction: Edmund de Waal, Geoff Dyer, and John Jeremiah Sullivan; and, in drama: Jackie Sibblies Drury, Helen Edmundson, and Debbie Tucker Green. Full bios are just below.
The Windham Campbell Prizes were established by Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell to call attention to literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. The Prizes debuted in 2013. There is no submission process and winners are determined by a global group of invited nominators, a jury in each category, and a selection committee.
In September, the winners will gather from around the world at Yale (where the Prizes are based), for an international literary festival celebrating their work. All events are free and open to the public.
“The Windham Campbell Prizes were created by a writer to support other writers, said Michael Kelleher, director of the program. “Donald Windham recognized that the most significant gift he could give to another writer was time to write. In addition to the recognition prestige it confers, the prize gives them just that — with no strings attached.”
Teju Cole is the author of two works of fiction that radically expand our understanding of diaspora and dislocation in the twenty-first century. Cole was born in the US to Nigerian parents, raised in Lagos, and currently resides in New York City, which serves as both setting and subject of Open City (2011). The novel, which documents the roaming thoughts and encounters of a Nigerian-German psychiatrist, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and earned Cole a PEN/Hemingway Award, the Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and frequent comparisons to W.G. Sebald. In Every Day Is for the Thief, published in 2007 in Nigeria and in 2014 in the US, a dual American and Nigerian citizen travels from his home in New York to Lagos and finds himself a stranger. Every Day features original photographs by the author, and was named a Book of the Year by the New York Times, the Telegraph, the Globe and Mail, and NPR. Cole is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College, photography critic of the New York Times Magazine, and is currently at work on a nonfiction book about contemporary Lagos.
Helon Habila is the author of three novels. He was Arts Editor of Nigeria’s Vanguard Newspaper when his short story “Love Poems” won the 2001 Caine Prize, garnering him international attention as one of the most exciting new voices in contemporary fiction. The story was excerpted from his first novel, Waiting for an Angel (2002), itself about a Nigerian journalist’s literary ambitions threatened by a repressive military regime. Waiting was awarded the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel (Africa Region). That year Habila was also invited to serve as the first African Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia, and in 2006 he co-edited the British Council’s collection NW14: The Anthology of New Writing. His second novel Measuring Time (2007) won the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Fiction. In 2011, he published his latest novel Oil on Water and edited The Granta Book of the African Short Story. He is currently Associate Professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University and returns to Nigeria each summer to teach a writing workshop.
Ivan Vladislavić is a writer of fiction and non-fiction celebrated in his native South Africa for seeing history in the quotidian and juxtaposing the banal and the bizarre. His debut story collection Missing Persons (1989) mined the dark absurdity of daily life under apartheid and was awarded the Olive Schreiner Prize. Missing Persons was republished in 2010 alongside his second collection Propaganda by Monuments (1996) as the single volume Flashback Hotel: Early Stories. These writings, along with his editorial work at Staffrider Magazine and Ravan Press, made Vladislavic a key figure of literary resistance to “the demented, divided space of apartheid.” In Double Negative (2010), Vladislavic’s protagonist wonders, “How much past can the present bear?” His post-apartheid novels have continued to explore the texture and tensions of the new South Africa with his signature humor and insight. Vladislavić has twice won the University of Johannesburg Prize, first for his nonfiction book Portrait with Keys: The City of Johannesburg Unlocked (2006) and again for Double Negative. His novel Restless Supermarket (2001) was awarded the Sunday Times Prize for Fiction. He was recently appointed a distinguished professor at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Edmund de Waal is a British artist and author of the memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010). This moving family history follows the shifting ownership of 264 Japanese netsuke originally acquired in 1870s Paris by the cousin of de Waal’s great-grandfather Viktor Ephrussi. The figurines survived multiple migrations and the horrors of Nazism to reach de Waal, whose book was praised in the Guardian as constituting “a new genre, unnamed and maybe unnameable.” The Hare with Amber Eyes was awarded the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, the Costa Book Award for Biography, and the Galaxy National Book Award for New Writer of the Year. De Waal’s second book, The White Road, is being published this September. It is a journey through a thousand years of stories about porcelain, from those who first made it in China and its collectors in Europe, to those who were destroyed by it in the darkest moments of twentieth century history. It is de Waal’s memoir of making. His ceramics and installations have been exhibited in museums around the world. In 2011 he was awarded an OBE for his services to art.
Geoff Dyer is the author of eight books of nonfiction and four novels. Whether wrestling with the specter of D.H. Lawrence (Out of Sheer Rage, 1997), “summarizing the action” of a famously slow-moving Tarkovsky film (Zona, 2012), or narrating his stay aboard an aircraft carrier (Another Great Day at Sea, 2014), Dyer’s genre-defying explorations have earned him universal admiration as singularly restless and original in his vision. Writing in the New York Review of Books, Giles Harvey noted approvingly, “This prowling and capricious nature has produced one of the strangest bodies of work in contemporary letters.” In addition to his book-length works, Dyer has written numerous essays and reviews for a variety of publications, a selection of which were collected in Otherwise Known as the Human Condition (2011) and awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. His most recent novel is Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi (2009). Dyer was born in Cheltenham, England, and currently resides in Los Angeles.
John Jeremiah Sullivan is an essayist of astonishing range, taking up subjects as diverse as Southern Agrarians, Michael Jackson, and MTV’s The Real World. Dwight Garner described Sullivan in the New York Times as “among the best young nonfiction writers in English,” and his empathetic and bracingly intelligent profiles have earned him comparisons to Tom Wolfe and David Foster Wallace. His essays have appeared in The Paris Review, GQ, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Oxford American, and elsewhere. Reviewing his collection Pulphead (2011) in the New Yorker, James Wood wrote that Sullivan “seems to have in abundance the storyteller’s gifts: he is a fierce noticer, is undauntedly curious, is porous to gossip, and has a memory of childlike tenacity.” Pulphead was preceded by Blood Horses: Notes of a Sportswriter’s Son (2004), an ambitious meditation on horse racing instigated by his father’s fond memory of the Kentucky Derby. Sullivan has been awarded two National Magazine Awards, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and a Pushcart Prize. He lives in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Jackie Sibblies Drury is a playwright whose brilliant, self-reflexive plays elucidate the ways in which social divisions continue to frame and fracture our work and our world. We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915 premiered in 2012 to universal acclaim and won an Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award. The meta-theatrical play recreates an acting company’s bumbling and often tense efforts to compose a show about colonialist genocide. Drury’s follow-up production Social Creatures (2013), commissioned by Trinity Repertory Company of Providence, projects her concerns into an apocalyptic future, when a group of survivors hiding from a deadly pandemic quarantine an African-American stranger seeking to share their company. Drury has been the inaugural recipient of the Jerome New York Fellowship, a New Dramatists Van Lier Fellow, and a New York Theater Workshop Emerging Artist of Color Fellow. Her one-act and now I only dance at weddings was staged as part of the 38th Humana Festival’s show “Remix 38” in April 2014.
Helen Edmundson is a British playwright admired for her original work as well as her masterful adaptations of the literary classics Anna Karenina (1992), The Mill on the Floss (1994), and War and Peace (1996). Her plays are simultaneously vast and intimate, at once complicating familiar figures and dexterously illuminating the history they helped shape. “All my plays start with ideas,” Edmundson told The Guardian. “I wouldn’t want someone to leave and not feel they’ve been made to think about the world they’re living in.” The Clearing (1993), one of her earliest original plays, addresses Oliver Cromwell’s devastation of Ireland through the lens of individual characters’ conflicted loyalties. It won a Time Out Theatre Award and a John Whiting Award. The Heresy of Love, a bold take on seventeenth-century Mexican nun and writer Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz, and Mary Shelley, about the eponymous author and her philosopher father, both premiered in 2012. Her new adaptation of Emile Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin will be staged by New York’s Roundabout Theater this October, featuring Keira Knightly in her Broadway debut.
Debbie Tucker Green is a British playwright whose poetic and challenging work reinvents the medium with each new production. Tucker Green’s polyvocal plays have been praised in the US and UK as “intense,” “densely lyrical,” and “emotionally charged.” Her early piece born bad (2003), a spare, haunting exhumation of family trauma, won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Newcomer. Writing about Soho Repertory Theater’s recent production of generations (2014) in the New Yorker, Hilton Als marveled, “this miniature spectacle, set in black South Africa, sounds like Gertrude Stein by way of Soweto.” Tucker Green has also written for radio and television, winning a 2012 BAFTA Award for Best Single Drama for her Channel 4 adaptation of her play random. Her feature film debut Second Coming premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The Windham Campbell Prizes are administered by Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which houses the Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell Papers. For further information, please visit windhamcampbell.org, or contact Lauren Cerand, (917) 533-0103, email@example.com.
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Read a short story by Reward Nsirim entitled “Forensic Investigation”, from his book Fresh Air and Other Stories, shared by Su’eddie in Life n Literature.
Nsirim was longlisted for this year’s Etisalat Prize, for Fresh Air and Other Stories, although he missed out on the shortlist (which includes two South Africans, Nadia Davids and Songeziwe Mahlangu, and Chinelo Okparanta – to be announced on 22 February).
Read the story:
Officers Boyd and Fletcher sat in a small briefing room inside the Empress State Building, listening to a really quirky commander. It was meant to be a brief briefing, but the man had spent the better part of half an hour sharing jokes, anecdotes and bits of weird police news. Finally, he got around to the matter.
“An assassination spree is in progress in Africa’s most populous country. As you already know, the bloodshed is something very usual during election periods in those parts. The coming elections are almost a year away, which means the killing season began a little early this time.”
He grinned, took a gulp from his tea cup and dropped the cup on the table beside him. “Thus far nearly fifty prominent souls have perished in cold blood, and it appears the guns are only rehearsing. On Election Day proper in the past the death toll has run into thousands, and in years when ethnic adn religious matters assist politics, the death toll can run into tens of thousands.”
Nsirim, a trained healthcare practitioner and senior programme manager on the Global Fund’s HIV/Aids portfolio in Nigeria, presented a TEDxTalk during the 2014 TEDXPortHarcourt gathering, speaking on the topic, “A healthier world with less medicines”.
He imagines a Nigeria where the health focus is on the things that can prevent the need for healthcare as we know it today:
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In its corrections and clarifications section The Guardian has explained how a recent article by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was published in error, and “apologises unreservedly” for the oversight.
On Saturday, January 31, The Guardian published a non-fiction piece by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about her struggle with depression, but then removed the article on Sunday, leaving a message on the page which explained that it had been published in error. The page was later altered to a more generic “the page you are looking for has been removed” message.
Now, however, the page redirects to the following message:
The author and the author’s agent did not grant permission to The Guardian to publish the piece. The author was still considering whether, when and which publication to give permission to publish the article, and as such the copyright remains with her. The Guardian publication was due to an error. We apologise to the author and to the readers.
The Guardian has also explained that the error was due to an automatic scheduling system on their website, stressing that “new training procedures in place to ensure that such errors do not happen again”.
Read the apology:
On 1 February 2015 at 1204 am, an error led to the online publication of an article on depression by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie without her approval or permission.
After being alerted by Ms Adichie’s agents, the Guardian removed the story from its website. The Guardian would like to make clear that Ms Adichie stands fully behind the piece that she wrote; she had not yet decided whether to publish the piece when it appeared on the Guardian’s website without notice or permission.
The article had been submitted to the Guardian by Ms Adichie’s agents in September 2014. After it was accepted, the Guardian made plans to publish the article in late September as part of the launch of a new features section in the paper. A mock-up of the layout of the article – with sample headlines and pictures – was prepared for both print and online. The author was not consulted about the headline or images used in these mock-ups, which were not intended for publication.
On 8 September, the Guardian was informed that the author did not wish to publish the article at this time. On 17 September, production staff deleted what were believed to be all of the related files from the Guardian’s system. Unfortunately, a copy of the web mock-up still existed in another content management system. This web file, which was created on 4 September 2014, had been set with a launch date of 1 February 2015, as a precaution to prevent it being accidentally published in September before its scheduled appearance. The automatic publication date was triggered on 1 February because editors were unaware of the existence of this version.
The Guardian apologises unreservedly to the author, and has moved to put new training procedures in place to ensure that such errors do not happen again.
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Coovadia’s discoveries in relation to Coetzee have been the subject of some discussion in South African literary circles. Although he denies it, Coovadia – an elegant, ranging, sometimes-argumentative prose stylist – has been in a protracted argument with Coetzee.
Following the publication of Transformations, which includes his meditation on “Coetzeean shame”, Coovadia wrote a feisty newspaper review of JC Kannemeyer’s “star-struck” biography, Coetzee: A Life in Writing (2012). Its forthrightness caused a brief literary commotion, including the strategic deployment of Pierre Bourdieu – like a consultant from McKinsey & Co sent to an ailing corporation or government department – by one antagonist. Similar to Adesokan, Coovadia is a university-bound novelist – the Yale-trained writer is head of creative writing at the University of Cape Town.
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Guernica magazine has published a new short story by Nigerian-born writer EC Osondu, entitled “Gramophone”.
Osondu is the winner of the 2009 Caine Prize for African Writing, for his short story “Waiting”, as well as the 2011 Pushcart Prize for his short story “Janjaweed Wife”, included in his collection, Voice of America.
This year, Osundu is the James Breuer Distinguished Author at Syracuse University in the United States. His debut novel, This House is Not for Sale, is out in February in the US and May in the UK. Yiyun Li, author of The Vagrants, says of the book: “The timelessness of this ambitious debut reminds the reader of JM Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K.”
Read an excerpt from “Gramophone”:
Whenever the uncle we all called Gramophone, behind his back, walked into any room with a radio on or some music playing, it was immediately turned down or turned off. He would sometimes use two fingers to block both ears when loud music from the record store down the road wafted into the Family House. He was called Gramophone because he would clean and dust every part of the sitting room but would not go near or touch Grandfather’s four-in-one Sanyo stereo. When this was pointed out to him once, he shrank back and said he could dust and clean everything in the sitting room but not that Gramophone, pointing to the Sanyo stereo. We were warned not to whistle songs around him. Whistling was not encouraged in the Family House at any rate; whistling in the daytime was said to attract snakes while whistling at night attracted evil spirits.
He sought refuge in the Family House many years ago, having killed a man, or, as we were told, he had not actually killed the man but the man had died from their encounter and he had had to flee from the village at night. He knew that there was only one place on this earth where no arm no matter how long could reach him, and that was the Family House.
Image via thebookseller.com on Flickr
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All that is riveting and memorable about Daughters Who Walk This Path derives entirely from the sheer narrative power of the story. This is because Kilanko channels the trauma and abuse of her character into a powerful story about love, the recovery of self and body and the possibility of happiness.
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On Saturday, The Guardian published a touching and deeply personal piece by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about her battle with depression, but pulled the article on Sunday, saying it had been published in error.
After the article’s removal, the link originally redirected to a page with the following message:
This article was deleted on 1 February 2015 because it was launched in error, without the permission of the author following a technical error. The Guardian apologises unreservedly to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
But now contains a more generic message:
Sorry – the page you are looking for has been removed
This may be because of a legal objection, a rights consideration or for another reason.
If you want to contact someone about the page, you can email the readers’ editor on:
For more on our editorial code and links to our latest corrections and clarifications column, visit the accuracy and standards pages.
To continue reading, please visit The Guardian’s home page.
Unfortunately, the piece is still available on some sites – where it has been copied word for word, presumably without permission – and in Google’s cache, illustrating that it’s virtually impossible to remove information from the internet.
TO Molefe says the incident “feels like some kind of violation”:
Adichie’s eloquent piece on the quality of electricity in Nigeria, published by The New York Times on Saturday, is however still available. In it, Adichie makes South Africa’s woes with Eskom seem almost insignificant, saying “I spend more on diesel than on food”.
Read the piece:
LAGOS, Nigeria — WE call it light; “electricity” is too sterile a word, and “power” too stiff, for this Nigerian phenomenon that can buoy spirits and smother dreams. Whenever I have been away from home for a while, my first question upon returning is always: “How has light been?” The response, from my gateman, comes in mournful degrees of a head shake.
Bad. Very bad.
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Brittle Paper have announced a new African Fantasy Story Series in which they plan to publish original stories by African authors.
Eugene Odogwu’s story In The Shadow of Iyanibi packs a powerful punch as it kicks off the series. It will be published in three sessions, with the first two parts already delivered.
“Fantasy has a common denominator – imagination. Imagination of the awe inspiring, the amazing, the magical, the otherworldly. Look closely enough and you’ll see that at its core, it’s all the same, just with different names. Magic or Juju, what’s the difference?” Odogwu told Brittle Paper in an interview about being a fantasy writer.
Odogwu also revealed that “Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a great influence, Ovid’s The Metamorphoses even more so”.
Originally from Warri, in Southern Nigeria, Odogwu says his love of fantasy was inspired by the place where he grew up. “Anyone who knows anything about Warri knows that fantasy lurks around its every corner. From tales of men transforming into tubers of yam after touching a stray note on the ground, women birthing tortoises, people riding plantain leafs like private jets to tales of giant birds snatching unsuspecting children from school playgrounds. Oh, trust me, fantasy happens everywhere, not only in the dark recesses of ancient woods.”
Read the article to find out more about this author and artist (Odogwu designs beautiful book covers when he is not writing), his views on fantasy and fiction in Africa and his new story series:
Tell us a bit about your new story series. Where did the idea for “In the Shadow of Iyanibi” come from?
I once heard a Yoruba tale about a tree that demanded the first child of a woman who’d come to it for favors. The idea of a malevolent and effeminate tree-creature seemed so fascinating. I had to explore it. As for Iyanibi, it’s a tribute to the thousands of dark and “evil” forests in all forms of literature, folklores and fairytales.
In The Shadow of Iyanibi is a story about a brave and gifted girl named Ihumbi, who is swept up in a series of frightening encounters involving the search for a missing sister in a forest of deep, dark shadows.
Read the first part:
Ahu clenched the itosi hanging from her neck, the bird feather charm her father had given them at birth. It was all she could do to contain the anger building up inside her.
“Look at your sister,” the boy said, grinning mockingly. “Sitting on her own and talking to an ija-ja. Who spends all their time talking to a bush baby? She’s crazy too.”
The rest of the children in their age group laughed, some pointing fingers at her sister sitting under a tree and talking to a little creature with huge amber eyes.
“I’m warning you, Tamo,” Ahu hissed through clenched teeth. “I’m warning you, hold your tongue.”
Read part two of In The Shadow of Iyanibi:
Ihumbi ran. Her chest burned with each breath she gulped down. Her calves ached each time her feet hit the ground. Her gut felt like it was being ripped from the inside out.
Still, she pushed on. The sound of the asan thrashing about behind her was enough motivation. Its shrill cries and grunts gave her the strength to keep running.
She ran and ran. But her body began to slowdown with each step until she could only flounder about, tired and disoriented.
As she glanced over her shoulder to catch a glimpse of the raging beast, her foot caught against a root. She tumbled forward, headlong into a ditch. Her face was deep in the dark soil before she could even gasp.
According to Brittle Paper, the final part of Odogwu’s story will be published on February 9, with two more series planned for 2015. We can’t wait!
Images courtesy of Brittle Paper
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The shortlist has been revealed for this year’s Etisalat Prize for Literature, Flash Fiction category.
Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto (“I Saved My Marriage”), Irabor Ikhide (“These Words I Do Not Speak”), N Bassey (“Before Sunset”), Neema Komba (“Setting Babu on Fire”) and Oladimeji Ojo (“Adam’s Snowman”) are the top five authors.
Etisalat, the Emirates telecommunications corporation behind the Etisalat Prize for Literature, initiated the Flash Fiction category this year, and the longlist of 20 was voted for by the public. A panel of judges then assessed the stories and decided on the shortlist.
The winning author will receive a £1 000 cash prize, as well as a Samsung Galaxy Note or iPad, and will have their published ebook promoted online and via SMS. The two runners up receive £500 each, and a Samsung Galaxy Note or iPad.
A date for the announcement of the winner is yet to be revealed.
Meanwhile, the shortlist for the main prize, the Etisalat Prize for Literature for debut fiction, was announced in December, with Nadia Davids (An Imperfect Blessing), Chinelo Okparanta (Happiness Like Water) and Songeziwe Mahlangu (Penumbra) making the cut. The winner will be announced on 22 February.
Read one of the shortlisted flash fiction stories:
Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto / Nigeria
Title: I Saved My Marriage
That was my wife, Chiamaka, approaching. People thought her puerile and naïve but I deemed her exquisite. She was blithe and permissive, carefree and lax.
We’d been married for five months through the declarations of our parents and other adults. I was seven years old and she, just six. Her mother declared her my wife because she’d been my favourite playmate. I never knew her father’s opinion.
We cherished our union and understood the unspoken words, we always chose a spot away from other playmates on those days parents allowed their children play outside. I didn’t want other children playing with my wife; she didn’t want them eating her soup.
During one of those wonderful days, I couldn’t find her. She was obviously missing. I was worried. Jennifer, another playmate had stopped looking at me from afar. She was standing close now.
‘Come and help me grind these leaves,’ she pleaded. As they’d be used in her mock soup cooked in a tin and eaten with moulded mud.
I had ground the leaves half way when I saw Chiamaka. I stopped. My guilt stricken face refused meeting her questioning eyes. She left. I just broke our marital vows.
Later, I saw her with Ebuka who didn’t like sharing his toys. I was devastated and jealous. My heart raced faster than my toy-car. I felt divorced.
I glanced at her periodically all the while but she never looked my way. I waited until play time was over. Instantly, I picked up the tin for cooking and went to her.
‘Take, I cooked this for you,’ I muttered with stretched arms.
She stared at me and collected it.
‘Thank you,’ she replied, smiling. ‘See you tomorrow.’ She entered her house. I smiled. I just saved my marriage.
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