Archive for the ‘Nigeria’ Category
This Fiction Friday, read a story from Reward Nsirim’s Fresh Air and Other Stories.
Nsirim, who hails from Port Harcourt, Nigeria, had his collection longlisted for the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature for debut fiction recently. He is the only Nigerian citizen on the longlist for the Pan-African prize, although fellow longlistees Chinelo Okparanta (Happiness, Like Water) and Taiye Selasi (Ghana Must Go) are of Nigerian heritage.
Nsirim studied medicine, and is also an amateur actor. He counts Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel García Márquez, Salman Rushdie, VS Naipaul, Nadine Gordimer and Helon Habila Ngalabak among his influences.
He’s also harsh on those of his fellow Nigerian authors who are unwilling to educate themselves in literary history:
What’s your take on Nigerian writers and writings?
I think there has been an explosion in recent years, especially with the international success and recognition that some young Nigerian writers have achieved. The problem however is that many of those delving into writing these days ‘because Chimamanda did it’ aren’t prepared to undergo any training or tutelage. I have met many
self-acclaimed writers who, upon the slightest palpation, confess to not having read some of the most common Nigerian novels. I told the Ibadan audience about this guy I met who claimed to be a poet. I could however not classify what he was blabbing as poetry, and when I inquired if he had read any works by Niyi Osundare or Odia Ofeimun, he replied in the negative. He didn’t even know who they were. There was therefore no need to ask if he had read T.S. Elliot or Edgar Allan Poe.
Read Nsirim’s story:
The two men in red coveralls arrived at an underground parking lot on the Rue de Treves on the invitation of a valet cum aide of a Brussels businessman, who immediately led them to a white Mercedes Benz 230 that had apparently seen better days. They were a mechanic and an electrician, among many other things, sent by a company which bought off used cars for resale. The son of the valet’s boss had dumped the Benz after a brand new Citroen C6 was given to him on his 21st birthday a week earlier by his father. The young man had almost wrecked the Benz in three years of driving it; after inheriting it from his father who had himself previously driven the car for two years. So excited about the new car was the young man that he had zoomed off immediately with his girlfriend back to their campus at Solbosch, as though the new car would be retrieved if he didn’t drive it away as fast as possible.
The technicians first checked the exterior of the dumped Benz 230, feeling the body and tires with their palms while the valet stood watch. Then they assessed the seats and carpets, rattling in Arabic to each other as they did so. Following that, one turned on the ignition and listened with rapt attention to the sound while the other keenly observed the linear wisps of smoke produced by the exhaust. Thereafter, with assorted spanners and screwdrivers and other miscellaneous odds and ends, they opened up practically every nook and cranny of the vehicle and took a good look. They were done in half an hour or so, and as they cleaned their greasy hands on their coveralls, the one who spoke better French addressed the valet.
“The car is in a worse state than we were told,” he began, with a shake of his head. “The carpets and seats are well worn. The tires are almost worthless, and the gearbox and exhaust are in a sorry state. The steering and brakes need a lot more work than we thought. Only the engine seems to be in some state of health, though it still needs some work.” He paused, looked at his colleague who seemed to give a go-ahead blink, and then continued. “We will be lowering our bid from the 1,000 Euros we earlier offered, to five hundred.”
“That’s too low!” the valet protested, “I can sell it to other buyers for more than that.”
But the haggling didn’t last long at all, ending at 750 Euros. Thereafter, the valet handed over the car’s documents and spare key as required, and the Lebanese men handed over the cash and drove the abandoned car towards the direction of Antwerp.
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Kabu Kabu is a pidgin term for those dodgy taxis operating cheaply in many parts of Nigeria. And as the book jacket says, they generally get you where you need to be, one way or the other. A fitting name then for Nnedi Okorafor’s first short story collection, as it takes you on a magical journey of twenty-one stories and leaves you, at its end, where you need to be.
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Alert! Ben Okri has won the 2014 Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award, beating off competition from Man Booker Prize winner Richard Flanagan, Haruki Murakami, Wilbur Smith and Michael Cunningham.
Okri won the 22nd edition of the annual award for his 10th novel, The Age Of Magic.
The Nigerian author, who won the Booker Prize for The Famished Road in 1991, was in South Africa recently to accept an honorary doctorate from the University of Pretoria. In an interview with Books LIVE at the time he said, perhaps presciently, that one of the problems concerning the perception of the “African writer” in the rest of the world is “you’re invisible if you’re just writing well”.
He added: “writers write and tell stories and they tell stories about what they want to write about, not what the world expects us to do”, sentiments that he reiterated in his terse statement upon winning the dreaded award: “A writer writes what they write and that’s all there is to it.”
Last year’s prize was won by Manil Suri for The City of Devi. Past winners include Melvyn Bragg (1993), Sebastian Faulks (1998), AA Gill (1999), Tom Wolfe (2004) and Norman Mailer (2007). John Updike was awarded a Bad Sex Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. In 22 years, only three women have been awarded the prize.
Read the excerpt that won Okri the award:
When his hand brushed her nipple it tripped a switch and she came alight. He touched her belly and his hand seemed to burn through her. He lavished on her body indirect touches and bitter-sweet sensations flooded her brain.
She became aware of places in her that could only have been concealed there by a god with a sense of humour. Adrift on warm currents, no longer of this world, she became aware of him gliding into her. He loved her with gentleness and strength, stroking her neck, praising her face with his hands, till she was broken up and began a low rhythmic wail. She was a little overwhelmed with being the adored focus of such power, as he rose and fell. She felt certain now that there was a heaven and that it was here, in her body. The universe was in her and with each movement it unfolded to her.
Somewhere in the night a stray rocket went off.
Full 2014 Bad Sex Award shortlist:
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The collection focuses on the impact that words, in particular, the things we say (or don’t say) can have on our lives and relationships—exposing intimate thoughts and complex feelings.
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‘Foreign Gods, Inc.’ is an overwhelming triumph, a bold testament to the invincible power of imagination and also to the ruinous obsession of its protagonist, Ike with life on high speed and the ‘here and now.’
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The second annual Ake Arts and Book Festival – held in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State in southwest Nigeria – starts today, featuring esteemed international authors and artists and showcasing contemporary African literature, music, art, film and theatre.
Zukiswa Wanner, Siphiwo Mahala, Nomboniso Gasa will be representing South Africa, joining esteemed names such as Wole Soyinka, EE Sule, Binyavanga Wainaina and many others (including former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo) on the packed programme stretching over five days.
This year the theme revolves around the concepts and constructions pertaining to “Bridges and Pathways”, asking critical questions relating to “building bridges between the African people along language, ethnicity, gender and religious lines, and charting new paths towards creative synergy and cultural cross-fertilisation on the African continent.”
Have a look at the programme:
Also check out:
The second edition of Ake Arts and Book Festival will take place at June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto-Abeokuta from 18-22 November 2014. The theme is Bridges and Pathways and discussions will focus on building bridges between the African people along language, ethnicity, gender and religious lines, and charting new paths towards creative synergy and cultural cross-fertilisation on the African continent.
The Ake Arts and Book Festival (AABF), in partnership with Ogun State government, Etisalat, Access Bank and Annoying Logo, will once again play host to international authors from all over the world and will showcase the very best of contemporary African literature, music, art, film and theatre.
The festival will feature book chats, school visits and several stimulating panel discussions. There will be a palm wine and poetry night, talks by both Nigerian and international writers and a comprehensive book fair/school programmes that will be open to pupils, publishers and book lovers.
In an event called ‘Muse as Memory’, Nigerian Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka will sit in conversation with Jerome Okolo. Patrick Okigbo will also host the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Olusegun Obasanjo, in a chat titled ‘Defining a Legacy’.
There will be nine book chats at the festival. At the book chat, we will be engaging Yejide Kilanko on her book Daughters who walk this Path, Bernadine Evaristo on Mr Loverman, Barnaby Phillips on Another Mans War, Okey Ndibe on his Foreign Gods Inc, and Chude Jideonwo on Are We The Turning Point Generation? Nnedi Okorafor will be telling us all about her new book, The Lagoon, Fred D’Aguiar will be talking to us about Children of Paradise, Zukiswa Wanner will be discussing London Cape Town Joburg and Nike Campbell Fatoki will tell us all about her bestselling book, Thread of Gold Beads.
Tayo Aluko‘s critically-acclaimed musical play, Call Mr. Robeson, will enjoy its Ogun State Premiere at the Ake Arts and Book Festival. There will also be a contemporary Dance performance by Qudus Onikeku titled, My Exile is in my Head. Tickets for these events are available online at www.akefestival.org.
We will also be screening the film October 1, by actor/director Kunle Afolayan. The film Yeepa, by renowned movie director Tunde Kelani will also enjoy its Ogun State premiere at Ake Arts and Book Festival. Three documentaries will be shown at the festival. They include Barnaby Philips’ Burma Boy, The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo by Yaba Badoe and New Morning, a short film on domestic violence sponsored by the Heinrich Böll Foundation.
There will be masterclasses in Science Fiction Writing with Stella Duffy and Ben Aaronovitch, Documentary Making masterclass with Emmanuelle Mougne and Devising Theatre from Page to the Naked Stage with Femi Elufowoju, jr.
There will also be two Photo exhibitions at the festival; Vera Botterbuschs’ View and Secrets vom Abeokuta and Isara and Victor Ehikhamenor’s In the Lion’s Lair – intimate portraits of Wole Soyinka in his home.
Ake Arts and Book Festival is collaborating with Access Bank Nigeria to sponsor 50 Nigerian undergraduates to the festival. The sponsorship will include book tokens worth N20,000 which can only be spent at the Ake Arts and Book Festival bookstore where they will discover a great selection of books. The application form will be available at www.akefestival.org on 11 November 2014.
Full details of the Ake Arts and Book Festival program is available at the website. Tickets to all events can be purchased online or in person at the festival registration desk from 17 November 2014.
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- Are We The Turning Point Generation?: How Africa’s Youth Can Drive Its Urgently Needed Revolution by Chude Jideonwo
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Alert! The winners of the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes for Literature and Illustration have been announced, with South African illustrator Xanele Puren receiving the inaugural Golden Baobab Prize for Illustrators. The prize for Early Chapter Books is awarded to Nigerian writer Mary Ononokpono while Portia Dery from Ghana has won the award for Picture Books.
The Golden Baobab Prizes celebrate the best unpublished African children’s literature, hoping to inspire African authors and illustrators to create authentic stories with children of this continent in mind. Offering $20,000 in monetary awards, as well as publishing opportunities for winners of the Picture Book and Early Chapter Book Prizes, these prizes go a far way in promoting relatable books for children. According to the the Executive Director of Golden Baobab, they plan to go even further:
“We are proud of the contribution we are making to the children’s literature and illustration world and are actively searching for exciting partnerships to expand our reach and impact across Africa. We are seeking major corporate partnerships by our next prize season to further propel our vision of making the heads of children across Africa beautiful places for them to live!”
Puren is the co-founder, illustrator and the visual force behind See-Saw-Do, a social enterprise founded on the transformative power of creativity and love. See her winning illustrations:
Ononokpono is an artist, illustrator and writer who was born in Nigeria but grew up in the United Kingdom. Her winning story, Talulah the Time Traveller, is about an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent – she is an inventor obsessed with coding.
Dery is a writer, blogger, community development worker and social entrepreneur with a focus on writing activities in Ghana. Her winning story, Grandma’s List, is about Fatima, a spirited eight year old, who is tired of being treated like a child.
Winners of the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes
Accra, Ghana, November 13, 2014 – We are proud to announce the winners of the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes:
- Portia Dery, from Ghana wins the Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Books with her story, Grandma’s List.
- Mary Ononokpono, from Nigeria, wins the Golden Baobab Prize for Early Chapter Books for her story, Talulah the Time Traveler.
- Xanele Puren, from South Africa, wins the inaugural Golden Baobab Prize for Illustrators. The Golden Baobab Prize for Illustrators is the biggest and most prestigious prize committed to discovering, nurturing and celebrating talented African illustrators of children’s stories.
The 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes for Literature and Illustration received nearly 300 submissions from writers and illustrators across Africa. The longlist for the literature prizes was announced early September and showcased 11 stories, selected from 6 African countries. The shortlist followed late October with 11 stories from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The illustration prizes unveiled 3 shortlisted artists; 2 from South Africa and 1 from Ghana. This year’s prize winners represent three countries: Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.
This is the sixth year of the Golden Baobab Prizes, which were established in July 2008 to in-spire the creation of enthralling, culturally relevant African children’s stories by African writers. “We are proud of the contribution we are making to the children’s literature and illustration world and are actively searching for exciting partnerships to expand our reach and impact across Africa. We are seeking major corporate partnerships by our next prize season to further propel our vision of making the heads of children across Africa beautiful places for them to live!” says the Executive Director of Golden Baobab.
Today, the Prizes offer $20,000 in monetary awards, publishing opportunities for winners of the Picture Book and Early Chapter Book Prizes, and the winner of the Illustration prize attends a Golden Baobab award ceremony and a traveling exhibition of artist’s illustrations.
Judges for the 2014 Golden Baobab Prizes are Summer Edward, Anansesem Caribbean Children’s Literature Ezine founder and editor, Nancy Drost, Seasoned international educator, Kinna Likimani, Mbaasem Foundation board member and celebrated book critic, Doreen Baingana, Multiple award-winning Ugandan author and former chairperson FEMRITE, Nonikiwe Mashologu, African children’s literature critic, Kanengo Diallo, 13-year old Tanzanian winner of the 2013 Golden Baobab Prize for Rising Writers, Paul O. Zelinsky, International Award-winning American Illustrator and Writer and Caldecott Medalist, Akua Peprah, Early Childhood Educator and Kofi Kokua Asante Anyimadu, 8-year old Ghanaian book lover.
Also shortlisted were:
- Shaleen Keshavjee-Gulam (Kenya) – Malaika’s Magical Kiosk
- Mandy Collins (South Africa) – There is a Hyena in my Kitchen
- Myke Mware (Zimbabwe) – The Big Ball
- Bontle Senne (South Africa) – The Monster at Midnight
- Mamle Wolo (Ghana) – Flying through Water
- Hillary Molenje Namunyu (Kenya) – Teddy Mapesa and the Missing Cash
- Jayne Bauling (South Africa) – The Saturday Dress
Last year’s winners of the Golden Baobab Prizes were Liza Esterhuyse and Karen Hurt from South Africa and Kanengo Rebecca Diallo from Tanzania.
ABOUT THE GOLDEN BAOBAB PRIZES
The Golden Baobab Prizes for literature was established in July 2008 and inspires the creation of African stories by gifted African writers and illustrators to captivate children’s minds. The Prizes invite entries of unpublished stories and illustrations created by African citizens irrespective of age, race, or country of origin. The Prizes are organized by Golden Baobab, a Ghana-based pan- African social enterprise dedicated to creating a world filled with wonder and possibilities for children, one African story at a time. The organization’s Advisory Board includes renowned au-thors Ama Ata Aidoo and Maya Ajmera. Golden Baobab is proudly supported by Echoing Green and The African Library Project.
Images courtesy of Golden Baobab
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Alert! Wilbur Smith has been nominated for a rather awkward literary award – The 22nd Bad Sex in Fiction Award. He is facing some, uhm, stiff competition as he is shortlisted alongside eminent authors such as Richard Flanagan, Haruki Murakami, Ben Okri and Michael Cunningham.
These books are up for the dreaded award:
The magazine responsible for this special prize, Literary Review, writes: “The purpose of the prize is to draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction, and to discourage them. The prize is not intended to cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature.”
They have been tweeting snippets from the passages which earned these ten authors a spot on the 2014 list. Follow the hashtag #badsex to see some of the colourful responses:
This is a distinguished list of nominees, including the winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize (Richard Flanagan), as well as a previous winner (Ben Okri), a former winner of the Pulitzer Prize (Michael Cunningham), a perennially tipped favourite for the Nobel Prize (Haruki Murakami) and a prominent BBC journalist (Kirsty Wark). The judges also considered Andrew Marr’s Head of State, which started arrestingly – ‘they bucked like deer and squirmed like eels. And after that, vice-versa’ – but failed to sustain its early promise.
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Ontbyt is dikwels swart koffie en witbrood – “jy druk die brood in die koffie, dan eet jy hom so nat-nat”.
En soms word hy geskel: “Hoerkind!” Maar hy is klein en sy is jonk en die buurt ’n kleurryke, rumoerige rondomtalie met op stil someraande die reuk van bamboes en soutbranders.
In Binnekring van spookasems, sy versameling Woorde wat wip-rubrieke en essays (ook gedoop “sypaadjie-letterkunde” deur Martie Retief-Meiring), skryf Lategan onder meer oor die mense wat sy lewe gerig het.
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Alert! Four South Africans – Nadia Davids, Justin Fox, Imran Garda and Songeziwe Mahlangu – have made the longlist of nine for the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature for debut fiction.
Uganda’s Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi has been longlisted for Kintu, which won the Kwani? Manuscript Prize in manuscript as The Kintu Saga.
Nigerian-American author Chinelo Okparanta has been longlisted for Happiness, Like Water, which was longlisted for the 2013 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.
Happiness, Like Water; Ghana Must Go and We Need New Names were also chosen by the Guardian as among the best African novels of 2013.
2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature longlist:
An Imperfect Blessing by Nadia Davids
Whoever Fears the Sea by Justin Fox
The Thunder that Roars by Imran Garda
Penumbra by Songeziwe Mahlangu
Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
Fresh Air and other stories by Reward Nsirim
Happiness Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta
Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi
Shadows by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
Nigerian writer and Chair of Judges Sarah Ladipo Manyika and Etisalat Nigeria CEO Matthew Willsher emphasised the variety of talent displayed on the longlist.
“We the judges are excited about this longlist which is reflective of the great diversity presented by the full list of submissions this year,” Manyika said. “We are happy by our decision and cannot wait to reread the nine books to prepare for the upcoming retreat where we will determine the shortlist.”
Willsher said the longlist fulfilled the purpose of the prize: “Five of the nine finalists are books authored by women; one of the nine finalists is a Nigerian citizen and two are from Nigeria/American and Nigerian/Ghana decent. The longlist also features writers from South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.”
The shortlist of three novels will be announced on 8 December. Etisalat buys 1 000 copies of each shortlisted book, and the authors are rewarded with a book tour.
The overall winner, which will be announced on 22 February, 2015, receives £15,000, an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück pen and a fellowship at the University of East Anglia.
The inaugural Etisalat Prize for Literature was won in Febraury by Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo, for her novel We Need New Names.
Longlist For Etisalat Prize for Literature 2014 Announced
Lagos, Nigeria; November 4, 2014: Etisalat Nigeria today announced the longlist of the Etisalat Prize for Literature 2014. This Prize launched last year is the first pan-African prize that is open solely to debut fiction writers of African citizenship and poised to become one of Africa’s most prestigious literary prizes for African fiction.
The longlist includes: ‘An Imperfect Blessing’ by Nadia Davids, ‘Whoever Fears the Sea’ by Justin Fox, ‘The Thunder that Roars’ by Imran Garda, ‘Penumbra’ by Songeziwe Mahlangu, ‘Kintu’ by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, ‘Fresh Air and other stories’ by Reward Nsirim, ‘Happiness Like Water’ by Chinelo Okparanta, ‘Ghana Must Go’ by Taiye Selasi, ‘Shadows’ by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma.
Renowned Nigerian writer and Chair of Judges for the Etisalat Prize for Literature 2014, Sarah Ladipo Manyika said, “We the judges are excited about this long list which is reflective of the great diversity presented by the full list of submissions this year. We are happy by our decision and cannot wait to reread the nine books to prepare for the upcoming retreat where we will determine the shortlist”.
Speaking on the Longlist, Matthew Willsher, Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria said that the list is unique in several respects and would go a long way in helping to accomplish the purpose of the Etisalat Prize for Literature. “Five of the nine finalists are books authored by women; one of the nine finalists is a Nigerian citizen and two are from Nigeria/American and Nigerian/Ghana decent. The longlist also features writers from South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe”.
The judges will be faced with the next task of selecting a short list of three novels at a retreat in Cape Town in December. The shortlisted writers who will have 1,000 copies of their books purchased by Etisalat and go on a multi-city sponsored tour will be announced on the 8th of December 2014.
The overall winner of the Etisalat Prize for Literature will receive £15,000, an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück and will attend an Etisalat sponsored fellowship at the prestigious University of East Anglia, mentored by Professor Giles Foden, author of the Last King of Scotland. The winner will be announced at the Etisalat Prize for Literature Award Ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria on the 22nd of February 2015.
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