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Archive for the ‘Nigeria’ Category

Chinelo Okparanta shares her 6 favourite books

Chinelo Okparanta
Happiness, Like WaterUnder the Udala Trees

Chinelo Okparanta, the award-winning author of Happiness, Like Water and Under the Udala Trees, shares her favourite reads.

There are so many books I love. But I will say that I particularly appreciate satires, or novels that are in some way reflective of the social issues of the time and also simultaneously transcend the time, so:

Candide, or Optimism
Candide by Voltaire, because it’s funny but so real. Bits about buttocks being cut off. It’s a book that cautions against misguided optimism.


Gulliver's Travels
Gulliver’s Travels by Swift, because it’s brilliant and inventive. It is a satire, and is a novel that is reflective of the social issues of the time and also simultaneously transcends the time.


The Little Prince
Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, because it is sweet and poetic and honest and simple (in a good way). And it’s about love, and it’s about a rose.


The Awakening
The Awakening by Kate Chopin, because it speaks to the plight of women in society, then and now.


Things Fall Apart
Things Fall Apart by Achebe, because, let’s face it, colonialism is still a problem.


God Help the Child
I am a huge fan of Toni Morrison. I love The Bluest Eye. But I also love God Help the Child. My favorite lines in all of literature just might be: “What you do to children matters. And they might never forget.”


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2016 Open Book Festival programme



There have been a few changes to the 2016 Open Book programme.

The festival takes place from the 7-11 September in Cape Town. Scroll down to see the full programme.

Holding My BreathReacher Said NothingWhat Belongs to YouThe ScatteringBintiYour Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a FistThe Woman Next Door
Sigh The Beloved CountryLike It MattersKoorsDie LaughingBorn on a TuesdayWe Have Now Begun Our Descent

From Open Book:

We’re delighted to announce two additions to the programme:

1. Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan will join us for Open Book this year and we’re equally delighted that Justice Malala will be interviewing the Minister
Thursday 8 September from 10 to 11 AM at the Fugard Theatre. Book tickets here.

2. We’re also excited to announce that American culture and music writer Greg Tate is another last minute addition to the programme. Greg is a writer, musician and producer and the focus of his writing is on African-American music and culture. He is a founding member of the Black Rock Coalition and the leader of Burnt Sugar.
Greg’s event at Open Book is Afropunks – Bongani Madondo and Greg Tate speak to Ntone Edjabe (Chimurenga) about writing black culture on Friday 9 September, 12 to 1 PM, Fugard Annexe. Book tickets here.

Special offer for these two events for this weekend only: For every ticket bought for each of the above two events between today and Sunday (21 Augusut), we’ll give you a free ticket to any other event on the programme (excluding the author dinner and workshops). To get your free tickets, email once you’ve purchased tickets to either of the events above and clearly state which free tickets you require.

The bad news is that Jostein Gaarder (medical reasons) and Fred Khumalo (work related) have had to cancel their appearances at Open Book this year.

All tickets bought for Life and Times of Jostein Gaarder will be automatically refunded by Webtickets.

Also, please note we have added a second ticket type to “Sigh the Beloved Country” (featuring Bongani Madondo, Sindiwe Magona and Bongani Kona) at Guga S’thebe in Langa on Sunday 11 Sept. The cost of this ticket is R80 and includes entrance into the event and transport to the venue and back. Transport will leave the Book Lounge at 1.30 PM.

Alternatively, you can just buy a normal ticket to the event and make your own way there – secure parking is available at the venue. To book either of these ticket types, please click here.

2016 Open Book programme by Books LIVE on Scribd

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Book bites: 7 August 2016

The Cry of the HangkakaThe Cry of the Hangkaka
Anne Woodborne (Modjaji Books)
Book buff
The adult world seen through the eyes of a child is a popular device. Here the child is Karin whose mother, Irene, is shamed in post-World War II South African society by the stigma of divorce and rushes off to marry Jack: a drunken mining engineer who takes his new family to Nigeria. Karin makes her escape in reading, her curious choice being a longwinded blood-and-guts tale of Vikings. Jack is so irredeemably nasty it becomes hard to believe in him. But Woodborne has nevertheless created a powerful view of a suffocating 1950s colonial society. — Margaret von Klemperer

The Loving HusbandThe Loving Husband
Christobel Kent (Little, Brown)
Book thrill
Fran Hall’s husband is murdered outside their farmhouse in rural Norfolk. Isolated, with two young children, she finds herself being badgered and bullied by the police. Sleep deprived and grieved, Fran is slow to awaken to uncomfortable truths: how people can use you and betray your trust, and that misogyny still lurks inside organisations sworn to protect you. The Loving Husband is a disturbing domestic thriller that delves into the darker side of marriage, revealing that not all abuse is physical. — Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

Permanent RemovalPermanent Removal
Alan S Cowell (Jacana)
Book buff
A thriller about a US diplomat returning to South Africa at the time of the TRC to face his own involvement on the wrong, or at least morally dubious, side of the struggle against apartheid. A slightly well-worn trope perhaps, but the lively pace flows well through both past and present. It resonates with questions about the motives of liberal whites who became involved in the struggle and leaves the reader with no trite, easy answers. Just beneath the surface are questions about the anti-terror campaigns now being waged by the US. The author spent many years as a foreign correspondent in South Africa in the 1980s and it shows. His details ring largely true, except for a few lapses – like referring to the communities of Crown Mines as Old Deep. — Hamilton Wende @HamiltonWende

Chris Ryan (Hodder & Stoughton)
John Porter, hero of the Strike Back novel and TV series, returns in this fast-paced, often-violent adventure. It’s a prequel, set in the late ’90s. After the SAS suffers a massacre during a training exercise, Porter leads an M16 strike team to exact retribution, tracking the perpetrators throughout Europe with his trademark icy precision. The geopolitical shenanigans which form the backdrop to the novel provide insight into the Bosnian genocide and its aftermath, with an unexpected plot twist at the end that hints at collusion within the British military establishment and the aristocracy. Ryan’s intimate knowledge of special forces operations makes this a very plausible novel. — Ayesha Kajee @ayeshakajee

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Read an excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s new short story, inspired by Donald and Melania Trump

Half of a Yellow SunWe Should All Be FeministsAmericanahPurple HibiscusAmericanahThe Thing Around Your Neck

Have you ever tried to imagine a day in the life of the Trumps? How would Melania Trump deal with the day-to-day challenges of being married to the infamous businessperson, author and politician, Donald Trump? Does she feel accepted by his children, is there harmony in the Trump clan? Or are they just like any other family, riddled with politics, jealousies and heartaches?

Luckily for us, we don’t need to speculate any longer. Award-winning novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has written a short story for The New York Times Book Review entitled “The Arrangements”, in which she depicts Melania’s most inner thoughts and fears.

The story is the first in a series of fiction inspired by the upcoming American election and was published on Tuesday, 28 June.

From the first sentence – “Melania decided she would order the flowers herself” – the reader is aware that “The Arrangements” is not only a story about the Trump dynasty as perceived through the eyes of Melania. It is also a homage to Virginia Woolf as it echoes that famous first sentence: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”

Read an excerpt from “The Arrangements”:

Melania decided she would order the flowers herself. Donald was too busy now anyway to call Alessandra’s as usual and ask for “something amazing.” Once, in the early years, before she fully understood him, she had asked what his favorite flowers were.

“I use the best florists in the city, they’re terrific,” he replied, and she realized that taste, for him, was something to be determined by somebody else, and then flaunted.

At first, she wished he would not keep asking their guests, “How do you like these great flowers?” and that he would not be so nakedly in need of their praise, but now she felt a small tug of annoyance if a guest did not gush as Donald expected. The florists were indeed good, their peonies delicate as tissue, even if a little boring, and the interior decorators Donald had brought in — all the top guys used them, he said — were good, too, even if all that gold yellowness bordered on staleness, and so she did not disagree because Donald disliked dissent, and he only wanted the best for them, and she had what she really needed, this luxurious peace. But today, she would order herself. It was her dinner party to celebrate her parents’ anniversary. Unusual orchids, maybe. Her mother loved uncommon things.

Her Pilates instructor, Janelle, would arrive in half an hour. She had just enough time to order the flowers and complete her morning skin routine. She would use a different florist, she decided, where Donald did not have an account, and pay by herself. Donald might like that; he always liked the small efforts she made. Do the little things, don’t ask for big things and he will give them to you, her mother advised her, after she first met Donald. She gently patted three different serums on her face and then, with her fingertips, applied an eye cream and ­sunscreen.

What a bright morning. Summer sunlight raised her spirits. And Tiffany was leaving today. It felt good. The girl had been staying for the past week, and came and went, mostly staying out of her way. Still, it felt good. Yesterday she had taken Tiffany to lunch, so that she could tell Donald that she had taken Tiffany to lunch.

“She adores all my kids, it’s amazing,” Donald once told a reporter — he was happily blind to the strangeness in the air whenever she was with his children.

To keep the lunch short, she had told Tiffany that she had an afternoon meeting with the Chinese company that produced her jewelry — even though she had no plans. Tiffany had cheerily forked spinach salad into her mouth, her California voice too pleasant, too fey. Her wrists looked fragile and breakable. She talked about how much she loved Ivanka’s new collection; she talked about a vegan recipe, reciting details of berries and seaweed, as though Melania would actually ever make it. She played a recording of her singing and said: “It’s not there yet but I’m working on it. You think Dad will like it?” Melania said, “Of course.”


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Image courtesy of The New York Times Book Review

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2016 Open Book Festival: Confirmed international and local authors announced

2016 Open Book Festival: Confirmed international and local authors announced


Alert! The Open Book Festival has announced the first group of confirmed international and local authors for this year’s event.

The sixth annual Open Book will take place from 7 to 11 September in Cape Town.

This year’s festival will comprise more than 100 events, at The Fugard Theatre, the District Six Homecoming Centre and The Book Lounge.

The final programme will be available in early August, and tickets will be available on Webtickets.

“We are thrilled to be announcing the first group of authors for Open Book Festival 2016,” festival director Mervyn Sloman says. “We have confirmed participants joining us from Botswana, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Ghana, Holland, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Reunion, United Kingdom and USA.

“As always we look forward to an outstanding collection of powerful South African writers talking about their work on the international stage that Open Book provides.

“I can’t wait to see the impact the likes of Pumla Dineo Gqola, Fred Khumalo, Bongani Madondo, Mohale Mashigo and Yewande Omotoso are going to have on Cape Town audiences. These writers are the tip of a very exciting iceberg that gives us cause for celebration in the SA book world that has many real and difficult challenges.”

RapeBitches' BrewSigh The Beloved CountryThe YearningThe Woman Next Door


Check out the confirmed international authors:

Adeiye “MC Complex” Tjon Tam Pau is a coach and workshop master for Poetry Circle Nowhere – a collective of writing performers in the Netherlands – and is active in the Dutch and international hip-hop scene.
nullReacher Said Nothing
Andy Martin is a lecturer in French literature and philosophy at the University of Cambridge. Most recently he published Reacher Said Nothing, a book about Lee Child writing his 21st Reacher novel, Make Me
nullThe Bear's Surprise
Benjamin Chaud was born in Briançon in the Hautes-Alpes and he studied drawing and applied arts at the Arts Appliqués in Paris and the Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg. His award-winning books have been translated into over 20 languages.
nullThe Fishermen
Chigozie Obioma was born in Nigeria and is currently the professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His debut novel, The Fishermen, was an international hit.
nullWhat Belongs to You
Garth Greenwell‘s novella Mitko won the 2010 Miami University Press Novella Prize and was a finalist for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and a Lambda Literary Award. What Belongs to You is his debut novel.
nullDaydreams of Angels
Heather O’Neill is a Canadian novelist, poet, short-story writer, screenwriter and essayist. Lullabies for Little Criminals, her debut novel, was published in 2006 to international critical acclaim. She has since published the novel The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and the short story collection Daydreams of Angels.

Hippolyte resides in Reunion but was born and raised in the Alps, where he got his interest in comics by reading old American comic books. He gained success with his adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, published in two volumes by Vents d’Ouest in 2003 and 2004.

nullThree Words
Indira Neville is a New Zealand comics artist, community organiser, editor and commentator. She has been making comics for over 20 years. Recently, she co-edited the anthology Three Words, a collection of Aotearoa/New Zealand women’s comics.
nullThe World According to Anna
Jostein Gaarder is the author of several novels, short stories and children’s books, including Sophie’s World, which was translated into 60 languages and has sold over 40 million copies. His most recent novel translated into English is The World According to Anna.


nullThe Prophets of Eternal Fjord
Kim Leine is a Danish-Norwegian novelist. He received the Golden Laurel award and the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize for his novel, The Prophets of Eternal Fjord.
nullThe Scattering
Lauri Kubuitsile lives in Botswana. She has written children’s books, short stories, novellas and several romance novels. The Scattering, her most recent novel, was published this year.
nullThe Gonjon Pin and Other Stories
Martin Egblewogbe is a short story writer, lecturer in Physics at the University of Ghana and the co-founder of the Writers Project of Ghana. His short story “The Gonjon Pin” is the title story in the 2014 Caine Prize collection.

Journalist Michela Wrong has spent nearly two decades writing about Africa. In 2014 she was appointed literary director of the Miles Morland Foundation and is a trustee of Human Rights Watch Africa, the Africa Research Institute and the NGO Justice Africa. She is the author of a number of non-fiction books. Borderlines is her first novel.
Misha Glenny is a distinguished investigative journalist and one of the world’s leading experts on cybercrime and on global mafia networks. He is the author of several books, most recently Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio.
nullWhen the Moon is Low
Nadia Hashimi‘s parents left Afghanistan in the 1970s, before the Soviet invasion. She was raised in the United States and in 2002 made her first trip to Afghanistan. Her debut novel, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, was an international bestseller. When The Moon Is Low followed in 2015 and her latest novel is due in 2016.
Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. Her novella, Binti, recently won a prestigious Nebula Award.
nullThe Winter War
Philip Teir is considered one of the most promising writers in Finland. His poetry and short stories have been included in anthologies, including Granta Finland. The Winter War is his first novel.
Rawi Hage was born in Beirut and lived through nine years of the Lebanese civil war during the 1970s and 1980s. He emigrated to Canada in 1992 and now lives in Montreal. His first novel, De Niro’s Game, won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. His most recent novel, Carnival, won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction.
nullStalin's Daughter
Rosemary Sullivan is the author of 14 books, including biographies, children’s books and poetry. She is currently Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto. In 2012, she was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in Ontario and was inducted as an Officer of the Order of Canada (Canada’s highest civilian award) for outstanding contributions to Canadian Literature and Culture.
nullYour Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
Sunil Yapa is the son of a Sri Lankan father and an American mother. He received his MFA from Hunter College in New York City in 2010, was awarded the Alumni Scholarship & Welfare Fund Fellowship, and was twice selected as a Hertog Fellow. He is the recipient of the 2010 Asian American Short Story Award. Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist is his first novel.

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Africa is calling: Call for entries for the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature – and judges announced

Call for entries for the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature - and judges announced

Etisalat has announced its call for entries for the 2016 edition of the Etisalat Prize for Literature.

The Etisalat Prize for Literature is a Pan African prize that celebrates debut African writers of published fiction. Previous winners are Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo (2013), South Africa’s Songeziwe Mahlangu (2014) and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Fiston Mwanza Mujila (2015).

We Need New NamesPenumbraTram 83

The winner receives a cash prize of £15,000 (about R325,000) in addition to a fellowship at the prestigious University of East Anglia, UK, under the mentorship of Professor Giles Foden, the award-winning author of The Last King of Scotland.

The Etisalat Prize also incorporates an award for Flash Fiction; an online-based competition for non-published African writers of short stories.

Matthew Willsher, CEO of Etisalat Nigeria, said at a press briefing in Lagos, Nigeria, that the prize is designed to serve as a leading platform for the discovery and encouraging of creative writing talents as well as the celebration of literary arts by African writers.

“We are delighted to champion the cause for celebrating the richness and strength of African literature,” he said. “The Etisalat Prize for Literature is about discovering and bringing to the world stage the many creative talent Africa boasts of.

“The Etisalat Prize is about creativity, excellence, empowerment and reward; it is about celebrating our African diversity in very innovative ways through various forms of art, literature being one of them.”

Willsher added that only books by debut writers, published not later than 24 months before submission, will qualify for entry. “They must also be by registered publishing houses not less than six years as incorporated publishers with registered ISBN Number or the equivalent, and who must have published a minimum of six authors. All entries should be accompanied by seven copies of the book entered along with an acceptance of our publicity terms. A publisher may submit a maximum of three books.”

The rules and guidelines for entry are available on the Etisalat Prize website.

Willsher also announced the judging panel for the 2016 Etisalat Prize. The panel comprises Nigerian novelist and poet Helon Habila (chair), South African writer and activist Elinor Sisulu and Ivorian writer, Edwige Rene Dro.

About the judging panel

Waiting for an AngelMeasuring TimeOil on WaterThe Granta Book of the African Short StoryNigerian-born Helon Habila is a writer, poet, author and an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University, USA. His novels include, Waiting for an Angel (2002), Measuring Time (2007), and Oil on Water (2010). He is the editor of the Granta Book of African Short Story (2011).

Habila’s novels, poems, and short stories have won many honours and awards, including the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Novel (Africa Section), the Caine Prize, the Virginia Library Foundation Prize for fiction and most recently the Windham-Campbell Prize.

Habila has been a contributing editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review since 2004, and he is a regular reviewer for The Guardian.

The Day Gogo Went to VoteWalter and Albertina SisuluElinor Sisulu is a Zimbabwean-born South Africa writer and human rights activist. Sisulu combines training in history, English literature, development studies and feminist theory from institutions in Zimbabwe, Senegal and the Netherlands.

She is the author of the award-winning children’s book The Day Gogo Went to Vote. Her biography on her parents-in-law, Walter and Albertina Sisulu: In Our Lifetime secured her the prestigious 2003 Noma Award for publishing in Africa.

Sisulu’s involvement in book promotion and literary development efforts for many years has culminated in her work with the Puku Children’s Literature Foundation. She has been a judge for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, the Sanlam Youth Literature Prize and the Penguin Africa Writer’s Competition.

Africa39Edwige-Renée Dro is an Ivorian writer and a translator. She is one of the 39 most promising voices under 40 from Africa, south of the Sahara as decided by the Africa39 project. She was the 2015 PEN International New Voices award judge.

Dro currently works as the director of Danbé Collection, a new imprint of l’Harmattan Editions with a focus on the promotion of Ivorian literature in Abidjan. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and literary journals.


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Chinelo Okparanta wins a Lambda Literary Award for Under the Udala Trees

Chinelo Okparanta Lambda Awards
Image: Ileana Jiménez on Twitter

Happiness, Like WaterUnder the Udala TreesAlert! Nigerian-American author Chinelo Okparanta has won a Lambda Literary Award for her novel Under the Udala Trees.

The Lambda Literary Awards, or Lammys, celebrate the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books of the year.

“Throughout tonight’s ceremony we were reminded of the impact that LGBT literature has on people’s lives,” Lambda literary executive director Tony Valenzuela said during the gala ceremony in New York. “Congratulations to all the winners and honorees.”

This is Okparanta’s second Lammy Award; she won the Lesbian General Fiction Award in 2014 for her short story collection Happiness, Like Water.


White GirlsChelsea Girls

New Yorker critic and White Girls author Hilton Als received the Trustee Award for Excellence in Literature, while The Pioneer Award was presented to poet and novelist Eileen Myles.

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Modern London, 1970s London and 19th century Benin: Read an excerpt from Irenosen Okojie’s Butterfly Fish

Nigerian-born author Irenosen Okojie shortlisted for 2016 Betty Trask Prize


Butterfly FishThis Fiction Friday, read an excerpt from Nigerian-born author Irenosen Okojie’s novel Butterfly Fish, which has just been shortlisted for the 2016 Betty Trask Prize.

The Betty Trask Awards are given annually to the debut novelists under the age of 35, to celebrate “young authors writing in a traditional or romantic style”.

Prize judge Michèle Roberts called Butterfly Fish: “A bittersweet story uniting different traditions of narrative to create a whole new geography of the imagination.”

Butterfly Fish spans modern London, 1970s London and 19th century Benin, combining elements of traditional Nigerian storytelling and magical realism with a compelling take on the legacy of inheritance.

Scroll down for an excerpt

About the book

After the sudden death of her mother, London photographer Joy struggles to pull the threads of her life back together, with the support of her kind but mysterious neighbour Mrs Harris. Joy’s fortune begins to change when she receives an unexpected inheritance from her mother: a huge sum of money, her grandfather’s diary and a unique brass warrior’s head from the nineteenth century kingdom of Benin.

* * * * *

Read an excerpt:

Fish Out Of Water


19th century Benin


At dawn on the day the news of the competition reached the Omoregbe family, Adesua, with a bitter taste in her mouth, had risen to the gentle sound of her mother’s footsteps. From her position on the floor, the unrelenting glare of the sun flooding the small but sturdy compound provided further an illuminating reminder of the tasks to be done for the day.

The news that the king was looking for a new bride had quickly spread all over Esan land and people had been buzzing for weeks about the competition. The special event was to be held at the palace, where all suitable young women were to bring a dish they had prepared, and the king would make his choice of a new bride from the maker of the best dish.

Mothers running around like headless chickens, each eager to outdo the other, constantly visited the market stalls keeping their ears open for any piece of information they could glean to give their daughter an advantage. Fathers resorted to bribery, bombarding the King with gifts. The palace was laden with necklaces, cloths, masks, sweet wine from the palm trees, goat, cow and bush meat. The rumour began that the palace stocked enough to feed all of Esan and the surrounding areas for two seasons, though this came from Ehimare, the land’s most famous gossip, who was deaf in one ear and whose mouth appeared to be in perpetual motion.

Adesua was Mama Uwamusi’s only child who arrived in the world kicking and screaming into broken rays of light. Uwamusi had almost died giving birth, and further attempts at having other children had resulted in five dead babies. This day as they swept their small compound in preparation for their guests she handed
over the broom to her daughter, looking at her as if for the first time.

She must have known she had done well; Adesua was beautiful with a wide mouth and an angular face. She had the height of her father and his stubborn temperament but her heart was good and this pleased Uwamusi more than any physical attribute. Adesua was a young woman now, yet she wondered if the girl realised it, so quick was she to climb a tree or insist on going hunting with Papa Anahero at any opportunity Later, they were expecting the company of Azemoya and Onohe, two of Papa’s friends from a neighbouring village. She did not enjoy the extra work that came with attending to their every whim, for both men could each eat enough for two or three people and never failed to outstay their welcome. Azemoya had six wives and many children, and so was quick to invite himself to other people’s homes to ensure a reasonably large meal every so often. Onohe was a very lazy man; it was a curse that had afflicted male members of his bloodline for generations. Instead of working hard to provide for his family, he was full of excuses. Either there was some bodily ailment (real or imagined) troubling him, or the weather was not agreeable or the Gods had not shown him favour no matter how many sacrifices he made to them. Onohe was at his happiest whenever his stomach was full, yet it was widely known that his wives and children could sometimes be seen begging neighbours for food.

Adesua shook her head at the thought of it, so that is what it meant to be someone’s wife? Unable to understand how the men felt no shame at treating their women so badly, she set her mind to brighter things, longing for the day to be over, so she could have time to herself again and challenge some of the boys she knew to a hunting competition.

“You must send her to the ceremony, the King is looking for a new wife and Adesua has as good a chance as anybody else.” Azemoya’s loud voice could be heard over the crackling of wood in the fire.

“She is my only child, I think I will wait another season before I think of such matters”, Anahero replied.

“She cannot belong to you forever, it is time to start planning for tomorrow”, Onohe’s tone was filled with amusement. “She is a woman now. I too will send my eldest daughter to the ceremony; if I have good fortune on my side she may be chosen.”

“I have not seen such a smile on your wife’s face for many seasons,” Onohe added, biting heartily into a kola nut. “But I do not understand you Anahero. Why do you not have more wives? People have been laughing behind your back for a long time. You would have had many children by now. It is a foolish man that does not see what is right before his eyes.”

“Let them laugh, Uwamusi has served me well.”

“She did not bear you a son, and you know people talk, it is custom to have a son to carry your name”, Azemoya said smiling, exposing various gaps in his brown teeth.

Anahero’s voice rose defensively, “I have Adesua.” He had always ached for more children and he knew his face revealed that need even when he attempted to persuade himself otherwise.

“My spirit troubles me about sending Adesua to the king’s palace.” Anahero spoke this concern lightly gauging the reactions, as his sense of foreboding for his only daughter was deeply troubling to him.

“You must consult with the oracle for guidance. It is time. She cannot continue hunting and climbing trees with village boys!” Onohe patted him reassuringly on the back with one hand while eagerly reaching for another piece of yam with the other.

After their guests left, Anehero and Uwamusi made sacrifices. They swam in the river with painted faces. And when the gods summoned those faces underwater, their heads broke through the rippling surface in acceptance.

Five days passed. On the sixth day an angry wind came from the north, hissing and spitting out defiant trees on arrival, whirling loudly and destroying whatever crossed its path.

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Nigerian-born author Irenosen Okojie shortlisted for 2016 Betty Trask Prize for her debut novel Butterfly Fish

Nigerian-born author Irenosen Okojie shortlisted for 2016 Betty Trask Prize


Alert! Nigerian-born Irenosen Okojie has been shortlisted for the 2016 Betty Trask Prize for her novel Butterfly Fish.

Okojie was born in Nigeria and moved to England aged eight. Her writing has been featured in The Guardian and The Observer, and her short stories have been published on Kwani and Phatitude. Butterfly Fish is her first book, and her short story collection Speak Gigantular will be published by Jacaranda Books Art Music in September.

Prize judge Michèle Roberts called Butterfly Fish: “A bittersweet story uniting different traditions of narrative to create a whole new geography of the imagination.”

The Betty Trask Awards are given annually to the debut novelists under the age of 35, to celebrate “young authors writing in a traditional or romantic style”.

The winner will receive £10,000 (about R225,000) and will be announced at an ceremony on 21 June. The three runners-up will each receive a Betty Trask Award worth £5,000.

The judges this year were Simon Brett, Joanne Harris and Michèle Roberts, while the prize and the awards will be presented by John Agard.

Somali-British novelist Nadifa Mohamed won the award in 2010 for Black Mamba Boy, while African authors shortlisted in previous years include NoViolet Bulawayo for We Need New Names (2014), Chibundu Onuzo for The Spider King’s Daughter (2013), Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani for I Do Not Come to You by Chance (2010), and Mark Behr for The Smell of Apples (1995).

Butterfly FishGlassThe Watchmaker of Filigree StreetWeathering


Shortlist and judges’ comments

  • Glass by Alex Christofi (Serpent’s Tail)

    “A marvellously funny, original story, written with immense charm and humour” – Joanne Harris

  • Butterfly Fish by Irenosen Okojie (Jacaranda Books Art Music)

    “A bittersweet story uniting different traditions of narrative to create a whole new geography of the imagination” – Michèle Roberts

  • The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley (Bloomsbury Circus)

    “A fascinatingly imaginative and enchanting book set in a Victorian London that builds up a completely self-consistent world only slightly out of kilter with the real one”- Simon Brett

  • Weathering by Lucy Wood (Bloomsbury)

    “An emotionally mature consideration of generational love, loss and change” – Michèle Roberts


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Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka to speak at Soweto Theatre in celebration of Africa Month

Invitation to a talk by Wole Soyinka
The Lion and the JewelAkeYou Must Set Forth at DawnThe Open Sore of a ContinentOf AfricaSelected Poems


Alert! One of Africa’s most important literary figures, Wole Soyinka, will be at the Soweto Theatre to give a talk in celebration of Africa Month.

The Nobel Laureate is being hosted by Department of Arts and Culture in conjunction with the African Independent Newspaper and Press Club South Africa.

Soyinka will discuss “Politics, Culture and the New African” at the Soweto Theatre on Monday, 30 May:

Professor Wole Soyinka is one of Africa’s most famous literary figures. He was the first African to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. Soyinka has been a strong critic of successive Nigerian governments, especially the country’s many military dictators, as well as other political tyrannies. Much of his writing has been concerned with “the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it”. He has taught at several international universities including Oxford, Harvard and Yale.

See you there!

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