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“I Remember You from Our Days in Mozambique”: Jacob Zuma Responds to Mia Couto in an Open Letter bit.ly/1IQiaJl #Xenophobia

Archive for the ‘Nigeria’ Category

Ben Okri to Feature as African Representative at 2015 Sydney Writers’ Festival

 
The Sydney Writers’ Festival (SWF) – set to take place from 18 to 24 May 2015 – will feature Ben Okri as one of the international highlights on the programme. He will be the only representative from the African continent.

Ben Okri at the Festival of Ideas
The Age Of MagicIncidents at the ShrineTales of FreedomSongs of EnchantmentStarbookWild
Astonishing the GodsStars of the New CurfewDangerous LoveA Time for New DreamsInfinite RichesThe Famished Road

 
Okri has published nine novels, including The Age of Magic and the Booker Prize-winning The Famished Road, as well as collections of poetry, short stories and essays. His work has been translated into more than 26 languages. Okri is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, has been awarded an OBE and has won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa, the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction and the Chianti Rufino-Antico Fattore International Literary Prize. He was born in Nigeria and lives in London.

He will be speaking at four events:

 
SWF features an incredible line-up of international literary stars, including Mohsin Hamid, Helen Macdonald, David Walliams and Alan Cumming, Richard Flanagan, James Petterson, David Mitchell, Michael Connelly and Anthony Horowitz among others.
 
Details:

  • Dates: Monday, 18 May to Sunday, 24 May 2015
  • Venues: Sydney Writers’ Festival’s main precinct is at Walsh Bay. This comprises venues at Pier 4/5, Pier 2/3 and Sydney Theatre at Walsh Bay. Events are also held at venues throughout the city, and in suburban Sydney and regional NSW. Detailed information on how to get to venues is available from individual event pages.
  • Ticket cost: Free to $25
  • More information: SWF
  • Follow: Twitter / Facebook

 
For more information on the festival visit the SWF website, or read the press release sent out by the SWF organisers:

2015 Sydney Writers Fesival Press Release

 
Links related to Ben Okri:

 

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Fiction Friday: Read Excerpts from Nigerians in Space and We are the Olfanauts by Deji Bryce Olukotun

 
Nigerians in SpaceDeji Bryce Olukotun leapt onto the literary stage with his 2014 debut, Nigerians in Space, which Matt McGregor described in a review for Warscapes as “a transnational mystery novel replete with assassins, abalone poaching and an international fashion model who exudes light from her skin”.

Olukotun was born in New Jersey and is half-Nigerian, half-American. The author obtained an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town under the guidance of André Brink, Mike Nicol, Andre Wiesner and Henrietta Rose-Innes.

Electric Literature chose Olukotun’s new ePublication, We are the Olfanauts, as their recommended read of the week and shared an extract from the chilling story.

Renton, the protagonist, works for Olfanautics, the “global pioneer in scented social media”, and holds a world of smells at his fingertips.

Read the excerpt:

Our team was based in a multibillion-dollar technology park fifteen kilometers outside Nairobi, and our data servers, which would have made us liable under Kenyan law, floated above national airspace in tethered balloons. The Danish architect had modeled the Olfanautics complex after a scene from Karen Blixen’s novel, as if that was what we secretly aspired to, a coffee ranch nestled against the foothills of some dew-soaked savannah. The cafeteria was intended to replicate the feel of a safari tent. Catenary steel cables held up an undulating layer of fabric, which gleamed white in the midday sun. In reality, the tent was the closest I had ever been to a safari. I only left Nairobi to go rock climbing.

Aubrey found me as I was ordering a double veggie burger with half a bun and six spears of broccollini. I could tell from the few frayed braids poking out of her headwrap that she had not slept well last night, nor had she gone to the campus hairdresser to clean herself up. I reached for her thigh as soon as she sat down but she swatted it away.

“I told you to send it up.”

“Nice to see you, too, Aubrey,” I said.

“I’m your boss, Renton. If I say send the video up, then send it up. You’re making me look bad.”

That was the problem with dating your supervisor. She thought any discussion could be resolved by pulling rank.

“Didn’t you whyff the strawberries? They were hilarious, hey. That girl’s an actress or something.”

TBN Fiction also shared an extract from Nigerians in Space, a crime thriller about Africa’s “brain drain” set in South Africa, Nigeria and America.

In the excerpt, Leon is trying to teach Thursday the intricate art of harvesting abalone:

It took four nights of heavy drinking, cajoling, and a wet kiss from Leon’s girl Fadanaz for Thursday to say he would consider going into the water. Even then he never thought it would come to pass. But soon they were sitting in the Merc next to a row of strelitzia palms that wound along a dirt road to the beach in the dusk, their fronds spreading out like press-on fingernails. He would have been able to hear the pounding surf if Leon wasn’t thumping his Kwaito music, and they’d both grown up near the sea so he didn’t smell the seaweed any more. Thursday had resolved that this time he would be firm with Leon—he was not going in the water, there was no way he was going in.

“I can’t do it, my broer,” Thursday declared. “I don’t know how.”

“Come on, Thursday,” Leon said. “I started with nothing. I was out there in the rocks all alone with the police, pulling myself on the kelp.” Leon laughed, in awe of himself, reminiscing. “Should have been on the news. I can barely even swim. You’ve got the breather and my lank equipment. The breather is easier than a tank.” He began pumping his head to the syncopated rhythms of the Kwaito.

“Can’t you give me your mask?”

“I gave you my old mask, voetsak. My new one cost a thousand bucks. It’s not my fault you’ve got a conch for a nose.”

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Photo courtesy of ReturnoftheDeji and Deji Olukotun (@dejiridoo) on Twitter


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Teju Cole’s Every Day is for the Thief Shortlisted for the 2015 PEN Open Book Award

Quel che abbiamo in comune

 
Every Day is for the ThiefEvery Day is for the ThiefAlert! Teju Cole has made the shortlist for the PEN Open Book Award with his novel Every Day is for the Thief.

PEN America confers a number of prizes annually in a number of categories, awarding a total of $150 000 to writers, editors and translators of excellent literature. The Open Book Award is given to “an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2014″.

In an article for Flavorwire, Jonathon Sturgeon wrote about the strength of the shortlist for the award.

Read the article:

The last of these, awarded as the PEN Open Book Award, is by many lengths the strongest shortlist of the bunch. Finalists include Rabih Alameddine for An Unnecessary Woman, Teju Cole for Every Day Is for the Thief, Roxane Gay for An Untamed State, Claudia Rankine for Citizen: An American Lyric, and Samrat Upadhyay for The City Son.

An Unnecessary WomanThe five authors on the shortlist were selected from a longlist of 11 by judges R. Erica Doyle, W. Ralph Eubanks and Chinelo Okparanta. Rabih Alameddine, who came to South Africa last year for the Open Book Festival in Cape Town, has also been shortlisted for this award for An Unnecessary Woman.

Read more about the prize, longlist, and judges and see all the shortlists for the 2015 PEN Literary Awards on PEN America’s website:

The PEN Open Book Award was created by PEN American Center’s Open Book Committee, a group committed to racial and ethnic diversity within the literary and publishing communities. The award confers a $5,000 prize upon an author of color.

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Image courtesy of Internaz


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Don’t Miss Achal Prabhala’s Public Lecture “Thugs and Coconuts” at Wits University

Thugs and Coconuts

 
Miscellaneous WritingsAchal Prabhala will be presenting a public lecture called “Thugs and coconuts, or three black writers who defied South African literature” at Wits University.

In his lecture, Prabhala will be speaking about Valentine Cascarino, Omoseye Bolaji and Zebulon Dread. Raimi Gbadamosi of the Wits Art School will offer commentary.

The lecture will be delivered on Wednesday, 8 April, at 6 to 8 PM at the Humanities Graduate Centre Seminar Room.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 8 April 2015
  • Time: 6 PM to 8 PM
  • Venue: Humanities Graduate Centre Seminar Room
    South West Engineering Building
    Wits University
    1 Jan Smuts Avenue | Map
  • Interviewer: Raimi Gbadamosi
  • Refreshments: Refreshments will be served
  • More information: shireen.ally@wits.ac.za

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Read “Apollo”, a New Short Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Published in The New Yorker

The New Yorker has published a new short story by Nigerian literary darling Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in their latest issue. The story is titled “Apollo” and tells of Okenwa, a young man who visits his elderly parents, only to find that the way he relates to them has changed dramatically.

 
Willing Davidson spoke to the author to find out more about the characters in “Apollo”, the condition the title refers to and the undercurrent of attraction that is so evident in the story, albeit in a subtle way.

“I am drawn as a reader to stories of childhood told in an adult voice, stories full of the melancholy beauty of retrospect. I am interested in the regrets we carry from our childhoods, in the idea of ‘what if’ and ‘if only.’ A novel I love, ‘The Go-Between,’ by LP Hartley, does this very well,” Adichie says.

Read the short interview:

Raphael eventually contracts conjunctivitis. In the story, the condition is called “Apollo.” Where does this name come from?

In Nigeria—and in some other parts of Africa—Apollo is the colloquial term for conjunctivitis. I remember a friend telling me, in primary school, that it was called Apollo because the men who went to the moon had returned with the red-eyed infection. This friend and I had just had Apollo, and it was perhaps her way of making our plight seem special.

Read the story:

Twice a month, like a dutiful son, I visited my parents in Enugu, in their small overfurnished flat that grew dark in the afternoon. Retirement had changed them, shrunk them. They were in their late eighties, both small and mahogany-skinned, with a tendency to stoop. They seemed to look more and more alike, as though all the years together had made their features blend and bleed into one another. They even smelled alike—a menthol scent, from the green vial of Vicks VapoRub they passed to each other, carefully rubbing a little in their nostrils and on aching joints. When I arrived, I would find them either sitting out on the veranda overlooking the road or sunk into the living-room sofa, watching Animal Planet. They had a new, simple sense of wonder. They marvelled at the wiliness of wolves, laughed at the cleverness of apes, and asked each other, “Ifukwa? Did you see that?”

Half of a Yellow Sun Purple HibiscusAmericanahAmericanahAfrica's Best StoriesThe Thing Around Your Neck

 

Related stories:

I Felt Violated: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Reveals Her Anger at The Guardian Over Article on Depression

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Image courtesy of The New Yorker and Riposte Nagazine


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“A New Cartography for Africa”, the Latest Edition of Chimurenga’s The Chronic – Read an Article on Amos Tutuola

Chimurenga Chronic

 
Chimurenga has just released the latest edition of their quarterly gazette The Chronic: New Cartographies. The issue concerns itself with devising a “New Cartography for Africa”, as the way that people imagine space and place is so inextricably linked to the history, ideologies, practices and politics that are understood as reality.

Read the introduction:

Since its launch in 2011, every edition of The Chronic has engaged with this question: when will the new emerge – and if it is already here, how do we decipher it? But no edition has addressed this query as centrally as our current project on new cartographies.

Broadly, the project contests the narrowness of the notion of the “failed state” that publications such as Foreign Policy and various think-thanks mainstreamed at the peak of the structural adjustments of the late 1980s to justify Western interventionism in the so-called developing world. And of course, this notion does not exist in isolation, it is inextricably tied to the idea of development and the resulting instrumentalist logic in which our imagination is imprisoned. These are conceptual frameworks that we, Western-educated Africans who came of age during the 90s have absorbed – it is the thinking that shapes, in the main, our thinking on policy and our imagination of “the good life”.

The Palm-Wine DrinkardMy Life in the Bush of GhostsThe Chronic editors have shared an excerpt from the issue with Books LIVE: Harry Garuba’s article “And the Books Lived Happily Ever After”.

In the article, Garuba speaks about the importance of Nigerian novelist Amos Tutuola and his effect on African literature. Tutuola’s writing is playful and casts off systems of classification. His works brought Africa to the literary world, and the literary world to Africa.

To borrow a phrase from Ben Okri, Tutuola overcame the “mental tyranny” of the black writer to become great, and allow African writers that followed in his footsteps to do the same.

Read the article:

If Amos Tutuola had not lived, and written stories in English, African literature would probably have had to invent him. So central has he been to the story of the making of modern African literature that it is difficult to imagine what or who else would have occupied the unique space he fills in the plot of this story. Without him, African imaginative writing in English would have been continually vexed by the melancholia of a “missing link”, because it would have had to account only speculatively and in abstract terms for the transition from the oral tale to the written text and from the indigenous languages of Africa to writing in the languages of European colonialism. Tutuola saves us all that ache and nostalgia, keeping at peaceful rest our conventional narratives of modern African and postcolonial literature and its transitions from one phase to the other.

The recent re-issue of Tutuola’s novels by Faber and Faber shows the continuing appeal of the works of this Nigerian novelist, whose first book, The Palm-Wine Drinkard, was published to international acclaim in 1952. That the 2014 edition carries an introduction by Wole Soyinka, the Nobel Prize-winning author, is significant because Tutuola’s countrymen scoffed at the accolades this novel received from reviewers in Europe and the USA when it was first published. By getting Soyinka to write this introduction, the publishers are, as it were, providing the final seal of authority that binds the initial international recognition to the belated embrace of the writer by his local constituency.

In a symbolic but very real sense, the Soyinka introduction signifies the coming together of local and global forms of cultural capital in a unified, consolidated endorsement of the Tutuola phenomenon. Just think T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, and then bring in Soyinka, and the picture is complete. I will risk the prediction that the Thomas extract, which has made it into every blurb of the many editions of the book since publication, will in later editions be supplemented with a Soyinka quotation. Shouldn’t we have one from Tutuola’s compatriot? Remember: we already have a Chinua Achebe quote on the blurb of this edition.

The Tutuola story is told again and again, yet it always bears further retelling. In a sense, it reads like an episode taken from one of his marvellous tales. A young man in one of the “bush” outposts of empire, with barely six years of formal schooling and a stuttering familiarity with English, decides to write a novel in the imperial language. He writes a tall, episodic tale, creaking at every joint, of an improbable protagonist journeying through worlds known and unknown, the world of the spirits, the gods, the dead and the unborn – all in a prose style that could only have come from the “African bush”. As the fates of Tutuola’s imaginative world would have had it, this handwritten manuscript lands on the desk of a certain T.S. Eliot, publisher at Faber and Faber, one of the high priests of literary modernism and, arguably, one of the most influential cultural arbiters of the 20th century.

Instead of thrashing this quaint object, Mr Eliot responds with curiosity – rather as Pablo Picasso was excited by those incomprehensible masks that had a career-changing effect on him. The question on Eliot’s mind must have been: how would a simple primitive, whose literary sensibility has been recently stirred by a smattering of English and a colonial, English education, write if he were so inclined? Is this the real thing – the first truly untainted “primitive” writing a novel in English? To answer the question, he sends the manuscript for review to none other than Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet with a similar interest in primitivism. Thomas is equally fascinated and sends in a rave report. The book is published, complete with a facsimile of the author’s original handwritten manuscript, to authenticate his existence as a real person and not a figment of someone’s imagination. The rest, as they say, is history. Yes, perhaps this is a story that should begin with the classic folktale formula: Once upon a time… and end with: and the book lived happily ever after.

Certainly we will live happily ever after with the things that we love about Tutuola’s novels: the oral storytelling voice that suddenly announces its status as print, with the copious capitalisations and the many character names placed in inverted commas as in the graphological oddities in a Lagos signwriter’s workshop; the numerous titles that signal the entrance of a new unusual character or begin a new, bizarre episode; the references to monstrous creatures who trade in British pounds, shillings and pennies, with the little fractions of the currency noted in detail, and so on. Imagine this bit of reverse intertextuality: “Then I told my wife to jump on my back with our loads, at the same time, I commanded my juju which was given to me by ‘the Water Spirit Woman’ in the ‘Bush of Ghosts’ (the full story of the “Spirit Woman” appeared in the story book of the Wild Hunter in the Bush of Ghosts).”

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Tutuola’s second novel, was published in 1952. But in this first novel, the narrator-protagonist is referring to it as an already “appeared” story book. In short, he is referencing a book yet to be published as if it were already in the public domain. Is this a form of oral intertextuality? Is there a realm in which all the stories of the world already exist, simply waiting for the artist to bring each to voice or into print? We are used to the notion of art imitating life; what are we to do with the proposition that art prefigures life? It is this sense of reversibility, this playfulness before postmodernism, this toying with our expectations, troubling our knowledge systems and classificatory grids and upsetting our categories (even our tenses) for grasping the world, which makes Tutuola’s world perennially fascinating. Though The Palm-Wine Drinkard remains his most engaging text, this quality is present in all his works.

As the Tutuola texts begin another phase of life with these 2014 editions, they once again stand at a crucial conjuncture in the institutional organisation of literature and literary studies. Within a decade of the publication of his first novel, African literature took its first tentative steps towards becoming a discipline of study in institutions of higher learning in Africa and elsewhere in the world. As we hurtle down the road towards what is increasingly being touted as World Literature, we need to take Tutuola’s texts with us, because they will help us reflect on and understand the implications of this new form of organisation of literary knowledge.

So much has been said about how Tutuola marks a crucial stage in the evolution of African writing, but one important part of his epochal significance remains unexplored. What the uneven reception history of The Palm-Wine Drinkard marks is that historical moment when a chasm arose between the local/national evaluation of a text and the international value attached to it. While the foreign reviewers thought highly of it, the local commentators were less impressed. In the usual course of literary evaluation, a text is first valued by the local audience in whose language it is written and this valuation usually passes on to the international audience. This often occurs through translations undertaken on the basis of the local construction of literary value, thus creating one extended circuit of value. But with Tutuola two circuits of value emerged and the divergence between the two could not have been wider. Happily, in the course of time, both circuits converged as the local commentators quickly conceded (implicitly) that they had been mistaken in their initial evaluation.

But were they really mistaken? Perhaps – but not entirely. In their assessments they were inserting the text into a local circuit of value, placing it beside works of a similar genre in the local tradition. In their estimation, read within this tradition, Tutuola’s novel falls short when placed beside the towering figure of D.O. Fagunwa, the pioneer of the Yoruba novel. Some went so far as to call Tutuola’s work a poor imitation. But Fagunwa’s works were not written in English, nor were they published in London; they were written in Yoruba, published in Lagos and sold through a local distribution infrastructure. Their publication was not mediated by an Eliot or Thomas or reviewers in The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker or The Observer, to name a few. In effect, they were largely limited to a local circuit of value. To use Soyinka’s apt phrase, they did not “suffer rediscovery by the external eye”.

What lesson can we take from this Tutuola story as we move into the future, as globalisation engulfs us and World Literature arrives at the doorsteps of academic institutions? The lesson is this: that while writers in local languages and writers of English texts published locally insert their texts into local/localised textual/social formations and these texts participate in local circuits of value, texts written in English and published in the metropolis are inserted into an international/global literary space and acquire value in relation to the value criteria and mechanisms operative within that space. While the former are often engaged in the project of national dialogue and partake in a local field of discourse, the latter enter into the international literary space, often on the basis of their distinct “civilisational” or geopolitical, cultural contribution. This is, of course, a different discursive field, usually with its own set of priorities and value criteria. Here is a Tutuola-esque image to describe this process: And a “MONSTER WITH ONE EYE FACING NORTH AND ONE EYE FACING SOUTH” entered the room.

What better image can there be to welcome the re-issue of Tutuola’s novels and to highlight the many lessons we can draw from them?

This story features in the new edition of Chronic Books, the supplement to the Chronic. Through dispatches, features, interviews and reviews, we explore the reach of public relations and petrodollars.

To purchase in print or as a PDF head to our online shop. Copies coming to your nearest dealer now-now. Access to the whole issue and Chronic online archives is available for $28 for one year or $7 for a month.

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Chinua Achebe and Ben Okri Feature on The Simpsons

Things Fall ApartThe Famished RoadHome and ExileThe Thing Around Your Neck

 
In a recent episode of The Simpsons, entitled “The Princess Guide”, a Nigerian princess comes to Springfield, and shares some of her favourite Nigerian literature with Moe.

nullPrincess Kemi, whose father is negotiating a business deal with Mr Burns, is entrusted into the care of Homer Simpson. He predictably fails to look out for her, and she gets stuck at Moe’s Bar instead.

At the end of the episode, Kemi gives Moe four books: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, The Famished Road by Ben Okri, Home and Exile by Chinua Achebe and The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Jennifer Sefa-Boakye wrote an article for OkayAfrica about the episode.

Read the article:

As a token of Princess Kemi’s gratitude to Moe for serving as her guide during a tour of Springfield (soundtracked by King Sunny Ade’s “Eni Binu Wa“) she gifts him with, as she describes it, some of Nigeria’s “most beloved, albeit depressing literature.”

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Images courtesy of OkayAfrica


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Man Booker International Prize Finalists Announced in Cape Town, Including Marlene van Niekerk, Alain Mabanckou and Mia Couto

2015 Man Booker International Prize Panel

 
Alert! The Man Booker International Prize 2015 nominees were announced in Cape Town at the University of Cape Town today.

In the past the finalists have been announced in Toronto, New York and Sydney and this is the first time the announcement was made on the African continent – the home continent of two-time Booker Prize winner and Nobel Laureate JM Coetzee, who is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of English at UCT.

The Man Booker International Prize differs from the Man Booker Prize as it honours a writer’s body of work and their contribution to international fiction, as opposed to focusing on a single publication.

The Collected Stories of Lydia DavisPhilip RothNew Selected StoriesThings Fall ApartTwilight of the Eastern Gods

 
The £60 000 is awarded every second year and was won in 2013 by American author Lydia Davis, American novelist Philip Roth in 2011, Nobel laureate Alice Munro in 2009 and by the late Nigerian author Chinua Achebe in 2007. Albanian novelist Ismail Kadare won the inaugural prize in 2005.

The 2015 judging panel, who selected the finalists at their own discretion, includes South African born, UK-based novelist and critic Elleke Boehmer. British novelist Marina Warner chaired the panel made up of Boehmer, British Pakistani novelist Nadeem Aslam, American editorial director Edwin Frank and literature professor Wen-chin Ouyang, who was born in Taiwan, raised in Libya and is now based in the UK.

Marina Warner

 
Without further ado, the finalists for the 2015 Man Booker International Prize are:

César Aira, Hoda Barakat, Maryse Condé, Mia Couto, Amitav Ghosh, Fanny Howe, Ibrahim al-Koni, László Krasznahorkai, Alain Mabanckou and Marlene van Niekerk.

AgaatTriomf

The ConversationsThe Tiller of WatersSeguA River Called TimeThe Shadow Lines

Second ChildhoodThe Seven Veils of SethSeiobo There BelowAfrican Psycho

* * * * * * * *

 

Helené Prinsloo (@helenayp) tweeted live from the announcement, using the hasthtag #MBI15:


 

 
Facebook gallery:

 
Press release

Ten writers are on the judges’ list of finalists under serious consideration for the sixth Man Booker International Prize, the £60,000 award which recognises one writer for his or her achievement in fiction.

The authors come from ten countries with six new nationalities included on the list for the first time. They are from Libya, Mozambique, Guadeloupe, Hungary, South Africa and Congo
None of the writers has appeared on a previous Man Booker International Prize list of finalists
The proportion of writers translated into English is greater than ever before at 80%
The finalists’ list is announced by the chair of judges, Professor Marina Warner, at a press conference hosted at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, today, Tuesday 24 March 2015.

The ten authors on the list are:

César Aira (Argentina)
Hoda Barakat (Lebanon)
Maryse Condé (Guadeloupe)
Mia Couto (Mozambique)
Amitav Ghosh (India)
Fanny Howe (United States of America)
Ibrahim al-Koni (Libya)
László Krasznahorkai (Hungary)
Alain Mabanckou (Republic of Congo)
Marlene van Niekerk (South Africa)
The judging panel for the Man Booker International Prize 2015 consists of writer and academic, Professor Marina Warner (Chair); novelist Nadeem Aslam; novelist, critic and Professor of World Literature in English at Oxford University, Elleke Boehmer; Editorial Director of the New York Review Classics series, Edwin Frank, and Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at SOAS, University of London, Wen-chin Ouyang.

Announcing the list, Professor Warner comments:

‘The judges have had an exhilarating experience reading for this prize; we have ranged across the world and entered the vision of writers who offer an extraordinary variety of experiences. Fiction can enlarge the world for us all and stretch our understanding and our sympathy. The novel today is in fine form: as a field of inquiry, a tribunal of history, a map of the heart, a probe of the psyche, a stimulus to thought, a well of pleasure and a laboratory of language. Truly, we feel closer to the tree of knowledge.’

Manny Roman, CEO of Man Group, comments:

‘We are very proud to sponsor the Man Booker International Prize, recognising the hard work and creativity of these talented authors and translators. The prize underscores Man Group’s charitable focus on literacy and education, as well as our commitment to excellence and entrepreneurship. Together with the wider charitable activities of the Booker Prize Foundation, the prize plays a very important role in promoting literary excellence that we are honoured to support. It’s exciting to see finalists from ten countries, with six nationalities included on the list for the first time, further broadening Man Booker’s international reach. Many congratulations to all the finalists.’

Jonathan Taylor, Chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, comments:

‘This is a most interesting and enlightening list of finalists. It brings attention to writers from far and wide, so many of whom are in translation. As a result our reading lists will surely be hugely expanded.’

The Man Booker International Prize is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.

The winner is chosen solely at the discretion of the judging panel; there are no submissions from publishers. Lydia Davis won the prize in 2013, Philip Roth in 2011, Alice Munro in 2009, Chinua Achebe in 2007 and Ismail Kadaré won the inaugural prize in 2005. In addition, there is a separate award for translation and, if applicable, the winner may choose a translator of his or her work into English to receive a prize of £15,000.

The 2015 Man Booker International Prize winner will be announced at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on 19 May.

Man Group sponsors both the Man Booker International Prize and the annual Man Booker Prize. The Man Booker International Prize is significantly different from the annual Man Booker in that it highlights one writer’s overall contribution to fiction on the world stage. In seeking out literary excellence the judges consider a writer’s body of work rather than a single novel. Both prizes strive to recognise and reward the finest modern literature.

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Chinua Achebe’s Death Reported as News Two Years Later

Things Fall ApartA Man of the PeopleAnthills of the Savannah No Longer at Ease
Arrow of GodThe Trouble with NigeriaGirls at WarThe Education of a British-Protected ChildChike and the River

 
It is unclear how it started, but Chinua Achebe’s death is being mourned widely on Twitter and Facebook, despite the Nigerian author having passed away in 2013.

Achebe died on 22 March, 2013.

In particular, it is The New York Times obituary of Achebe that seems to be going viral, without posters realising that it was published two years ago.

Some news sites were even taken in by the wave of reposts.

As Firstpost points out, similar trends occurred when Steve Jobs and Maya Angelou died, making this quote from Achebe particularly prescient for a digital age: “The only thing we have learnt from experience is that we learn nothing from experience.”

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice tweeted to her 456 000 followers that “his works leave a lasting impression on me and my gen.”:

Institutions and fans continue to tweet the “news”:

Power FM, meanwhile, commemorated Achebe’s life on the two-year anniversary of his death:

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Image courtesy of Ebony


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I Felt Violated: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Reveals Her Anger at The Guardian Over Article on Depression

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi


 
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has spoken out about her article on depression, which was prematurely published by The Guardian in early February.

nullAmericanahHalf of a Yellow Sun Purple Hibiscus

In an extensive and revealing interview with Olisa, Adichie says: “I felt violated. It felt like a horrible violation.”

Adichie takes strong exception to The Guardian’s choice of words, particularly the phrase “struggling with depression”.

“I would never have agreed to that caption,” she says. “I do not think of the article as being about my ‘struggle’ with depression, but about my journey to accepting something I have had since I was born, and my choosing to ‘come out’ about it.”

She adds: “I was angry with The Guardian.”

The piece in question was published by The Guardian on Saturday, 2 February, and then removed on Sunday. At first, The Guardian displayed a message that stated that the story had been “launched in error, without the permission of the author following a technical error” and the site “apologised unreservedly” to Adichie. Later, the page changed to show a more generic message: “Sorry – the page you are looking for has been removed”.

A few days later, in its corrections and clarifications section, The Guardian published a longer apology, again apologising “unreservedly” and adding that “new training procedures” were in place “to ensure that such errors do not happen again”.

“There is something predatory about Big Journalism,” Adichie adds. “Big Journalism doesn’t care about the humanity of it subjects.”

Read the article:

I was certainly the author. I have actually always been quite open about having depression. By depression, I don’t mean being sad. I mean a health condition that comes from time to time and has different symptoms and is very debilitating. I’ve mentioned it publicly in the past, but I have always wanted to write about it. I was meeting many people who I could tell were also depressive, and I was noticing how hush-hush it all was, how there was often a veil of silence over it, and I think the terrible consequence of silence is shame.

Depression is difficult. It is difficult to experience, difficult to write about, difficult to be open about. But I wanted to do it. For myself, in a way, because it forced me to tell myself my own story, which can be helpful. But also for other possible sufferers, especially fellow Africans, because there is something very powerful about knowing that you are not alone, and that what happens to you also happens to other people.

Depression is something I have recognized since I was a child. It is something I have accepted. It is something I will have to find ways to manage for the rest of my life. Many creative people have depression. I wonder if I would be so drawn to storytelling if I were not also a person who suffers from depression.

But I am very interested in de-mystifying it. Young creative people, especially on our continent, have enough to deal with without thinking – as I did for so long – that something is fundamentally wrong with feeling this strange thing from time to time. Our African societies are not very knowledgeable or open or supportive about depression. People who don’t have depression have a lot of difficulty understanding it, but people who have it are also often befuddled by it.

I wanted to make sure I was emotionally ready to write the piece. I don’t usually write about myself and certainly not very personally. I wanted it to be honest and true. The only way to write about a subject like that is to be honest.

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