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.@TheFolioPrize 2015 Longlist Revealed, Including Damon Galgut, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and @dinawmengestu:

The New Yorker Features New Fiction by Nuruddin Farah: "The Start of the Affair" (Excerpt, Interview and Podcast)

Nuruddin Farah

Hiding in Plain SightCrossbonesFrom a Crooked RibMapsKnotsSecrets

The latest issue of The New Yorker features new fiction by Nuruddin Farah, and an interview with the author about his life and work.

The story, entitled “The Start of the Affair”, is about a retired professor of politics at Wits who owns a North African restaurant in Pretoria. Farah says the idea for the story came to him soon after he had finished his most recent novel, Hiding in Plain Sight, “More or less out of the blue, you might say.”

Farah, along with Njabulo Ndebele, was recently presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the South African Literary Awards. He was born in Somalia, but now divides his time between South Africa and New York, where he teaches at Bard College. He still travels frequently to Somalia, but tells The New Yorker it has been a “deliberate decision” to set his novels outside of his home country, both for political and stylistic reasons. However, although he agrees that he now feels at home in New York, he says he is unlikely to set his work there.

Read the interview:

It is one thing to feel at home in a place; it is altogether another matter to set one’s fiction there. After all, there are stages of feeling at home in a place. Anyhow, I doubt I will set my fiction in upstate New York in the near future. My attitude towards setting my fiction anywhere in Africa is entirely different, because it is as if the continent is mine to write about.

Listen to Farah reading the story:

Read the story on The New Yorker website:

“The Start of the Affair”

At a fire sale a few years ago, James MacPherson, a retired professor of politics at Wits, Johannesburg, known for his seminal work on the Frontline States’ war of attrition against the apartheid regime, bought a restaurant in Pretoria specializing in North African cuisine. His knowledge of Africa was extensive, a result of having lived in various places around the continent for a number of years, most notably Zambia and Tanzania, and of having travelled frequently to the neighboring states.

Now he spends much of his time at a corner table in the restaurant, surrounded by the papers on which he has scribbled notes for a book he intends to lick into shape. He seldom interferes with the business side of the restaurant, allowing the manager, Yacine, a Moroccan, full authority to deal with most problems. And, on the rare occasion that Yacine seeks his input, James defers to him, saying, “It is your call.”

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Meet Nadav Ossendryver, Creator of South Africa's Most Watched YouTube Channel: Kruger Sightings

One of 21 super kids who will save the world from adults. Keynote speaker at the opening of Facebook in Africa. Recipient of the 2014 Nelson Mandela Youth Leadership Award. World Wide Worx Social Media Star of 2014. Founder of the most successful YouTube channel in South Africa.

Touring South Africa's National ParksNational Parks and Nature ReservesAfrica: In the Footsteps of the Great ExplorersAll of the above applies to Nadav Ossendryver – and he is only 18 years old! He started the popular website where people are encouraged to upload and share videos of their sightings in the Kruger National Park when he was only 15 years old. Since then it has grown to be an extensive and highly revered website for people who are passionate about wildlife.

Among the interesting people Ossendryver has been invited to spend time with or work with are African travelling legend Kingsley Holgate, US president Barack Obama, various universities and conservation instituations, and a variety of radio and television programmes. Ossendryver accompanied Holgate, author of Africa: In the Footsteps of the Great Explorers, on one of his expeditions to the Kruger Park to create awareness in surrounding villages about poaching.

Watch the trailer for Ossendryver’s YouTube channel, Kruger Sightings:

YouTube Preview Image

Read Marinette Potgieter’s article for the Lowvelder for more on this bright young man:

It started out as a website to help visitors to the Kruger National Park (KNP) spot wildlife easily. This week, became a YouTube partner, reaching 100 million views and is the most watched YouTube channel in South Africa – and the founder is still studying for his matric exams.
This is a website which enables visitors to the KNP to post their sightings in real time, allowing others in the vicinity to share theirs by posting videos to YouTube or updates to social media, like the park’s Facebook page. The website became an instant sensation and gained 30 000 members in its first few weeks and today boasts more than 133 000, including President Barack Obama.

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Image courtesy of Landymag

David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong'o to Star in Film Adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah

The stars of the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s award-winning novel Americanah has been announced: Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong’o will be portraying Ifemelu, while Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo will be in the male lead portraying Obinze.

The film is being produced by Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B Entertainment, the same company responsible for the resounding success of 12 Years a Slave.

Nyong’o optioned the film rights for Americanah in the first half of the year, having contacted Adichie “before she was sort of well-known in the way that she is now”.


Americanah is the story of Ifemelu and Obinze, a young couple who are deeply in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America where, despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. 15 years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion for each other and for their homeland.

No production date has been confirmed as the project is still in need of a screenwriter and director.

He may have had only a brief moment in Interstellar, but David Oyelowo has drawn both praise and a Golden Globe nomination for his role as Martin Luther King Jr. in the upcoming Selma. He’s now set to star alongside an awards veteran, 12 Years A Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o, in indie drama Americanah.

Adapted from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Americanah is the story of Ifemelu, her early life in Nigeria, her expatriate experience working in America, and her later return to her home country. It’s also a love story between Ifemelu and Obinze (Oyelowo), who she leaves behind in Nigeria while she embarks on her odyssey through American class politics.

On the heels of being nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in Selma, David Oyelowo is set to co-star with Lupita Nyong’o in the movie Americanah.

Americanah is based on the best-selling novel from Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The love story is about two Nigerian immigrants and the struggles they face during their relationship.

Oyelowo was just nominated for a Golden Globe for ‘Selma’

Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o and recent Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo have been cast in the film version of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah.

More about Adichie and Americanah:

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Image courtesy of That 1960 Chick

2015 Folio Prize Longlist Revealed, Including Damon Galgut, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and Dinaw Mengestu

2015 Folio Prize Longlist

Arctic SummerDustAll Our Names

Three African writers are among the nominees for the 2015 Folio Prize: Damon Galgut, Kenyan Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and Ethiopian-American Dinaw Mengestu.

The £40,000 prize was initiated last year, unofficially as a more literary alternative to the Man Booker Prize.

Galgut has been nominated for Arctic Summer, Adhiambo Owuor for Dust and Mengestu for All Our Names.

In contrast, the longlist for the 2014 Booker Prize, although much shorter at 13 books, featured a complete absence of African authors.

The Folio Prize longlist comprises 80 books, and is open to any work of fiction published in the UK. The books are selected by the Folio Prize Academy’s 235 members, which include JM Coetzee, Teju Cole, NoViolet Bulawayo and Helon Habila. Bulawayo and Galgut are also Academy members, but are recused from this year’s prize.

American short story writer George Saunders won the debut edition of the prize, for his collection Tenth of December.

Longlisted books this year include Martin Amis’s The Zone of Interest, David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, Ali Smith’s How to be Both, as well as Neel Mukherjee, Dave Eggers, Peter Carey, Tim Winton, Will Self, Margaret Atwood and this year’s Man Booker Prize winner Richard Flanagan.

This years judges are William Fiennes (chair), Rachel Cooke, Mohsin Hamid, AM Homes and Deborah Levy.

“The list of nominations for this year’s Folio Prize is both daunting and exhilarating,” Fiennes says. “It’s not just that the list has such range and richness. Reading the books, it’s as if we’re eavesdropping on a marvellous conversation about what a novel might be.”

The judges will now select a shortlist of eight titles, which will be announced on February 9, 2015. The winner will be announced in London on March 23.

The 80-book Folio Prize longlist in full:

10:04, Ben Lerner (Granta)
A God in Every Stone, Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Academy Street, Mary Costello (Canongate)
After Me Comes the Flood, Sarah Perry (Serpent’s Tail)
All My Puny Sorrows, Miriam Toews (Faber & Faber)
All Our Names, Dinaw Mengitsu (Sceptre)
All the Days And Nights, Niven Goviden (The Friday Project)
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr (4th Estate)
All the Rage, Al Kennedy (Jonathan Cape)
Amnesia, Peter Carey (Faber & Faber)
Annihilation, Jeff Vandemeer (4th Estate)
Arctic Summer, Damon Galgut (Atlantic Books)
Bald New World, Peter Tieryas Liu (John Hunt Publishing)
Bark, Lorrie Moore (Faber & Faber)
Be Safe I Love You, Cara Hoffman (Virago)
Boy, Snow, Bird, Helen Oyeyemi (Picador)
Can’t & Won’t, Lydia Davis (Hamish Hamilton)
Dear Thief, Samantha Harvey (Jonathan Cape)
Dept. Of Speculation, Jenny Offill (Granta)
Dissident Gardens, Jonathan Lethem (Jonathan Cape)
Dust, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Granta)
Em And The Big Hoom, Jerry Pinto (Viking)
England and Other Stories, Graham Swift (Simon & Schuster)
Euphoria, Lily King (Picador)
Everland, Rebecca Hunt (Fig Tree)
Eyrie, Tim Winton (Picador)
Family Life, Akhil Sharma (Faber & Faber)
Fourth Of July Creek, Smith Henderson (William Heinemann)
How To Be Both, Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
In Search Of Silence, Emily Mackie (Sceptre)
In the Approaches, Nicola Barker (4th Estate)
In the Light of What We Know, Zia Haider Rahman (Picador)
J, Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape)
Kinder Than Solitude, Yiyun Li (4th Estate)
Lila, Marilynne Robinson (Virago)
Life Drawing, Robin Black (Picador)
Lost For Words, Edward St Aubyn (Picador)
Love and Treasure, Ayelet Waldman (Two Roads)
Nora Webster, Colm Toibin (Viking)
On Such A Full Sea, Chang-Rae Lee (Little, Brown)
Orfeo, Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
Outline, Rachel Cusk (Faber & Faber)
Perfidia, James Ellroy (William Heinemann)
Road Ends, Mary Lawson (Chatto & Windus)
Shark, Will Self (Viking)
Some Luck, Jane Smiley (Mantle)
Stay Up With Me, Tom Barbash (Simon & Schuster)
Stone Mattress, Margaret Atwood (Bloomsbury Publishing)
The Ballad Of a Small Player, Lawrence Osborne (The Hogarth Press)
The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Sceptre)
The Book of Gold Leaves, Mirza Waheed (Penguin)
The Book of Strange New Things, Michel Faber (Canongate)
The Country Of Icecream Star, Sandra Newman (Chatto & Windus)
The Dog, Joseph O’neill (4th Estate)
The Fever, Megan Abbott (Picador)
The Heroes’ Welcome, Louisa Young (Harper Collins)
The Incarnations, Susan Barker (Doubleday)
The Lie, Helen Dunmore (Hutchinson)
The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee (Chatto & Windus)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus)
The Night Guest, Fiona Mcfarlane (Sceptre)
The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters (Virago)
The Tell-Tale Heart, Jill Dawson (Sceptre)
The Temporary Gentleman, Sebastain Barry (Faber & Faber)
The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)
The Zone Of Interest, Martin Amis (Jonathan Cape)
Their Lips Talk Of Mischief, Alan Warner (Faber & Faber)
Thunderstruck, Elizabeth Mccracken (Jonthan Cape)
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (Viking)
Travelling Sprinkler, Nicholson Baker (Serpent’s Tail)
Upstairs At The Party, Linda Grant (Virago)
Viper Wine, Hermione Eyre (Jonathan Cape)
Virginia Woolf In Manhattan, Maggie Gee (Telegram Books)
We Are Not Ourselves, Thomas Matthew (4th Estate)
What You Want, Constantine Phipps (Quercus)
Wittgenstein Jr, Lars Iyer (Melville House)
Young Skins, Colin Barrett (Jonathan Cape)
Your Fathers, Where Are They?…, Dave Eggers (Hamish Hamilton)

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2015 Man Booker Prize Judges Announced, Including Caine Prize Council Member Ellah Allfrey

booker judges

The judging panel for the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction has been announced.

This year’s prize will be judged by an all-new panel of Michael Wood (Chair), Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at Princeton; Ellah Allfrey, journalist and Deputy Chair of the Council of the Caine Prize; John Burnside, award-winning poet; Sam Leith, author and literary editor at The Spectator and Frances Osborne, author and biographer.

Africa39Zimbabwe-born Allfrey edited the recently published Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara. She is the former deputy editor of Granta magazine, and sits on the boards of English PEN and the Writers’ Centre Norwich, and as well as serving on the Council of the Caine Prize she is a patron of the Etisalat Prize for Literature.

Chair of judges Wood says: “Talking about novels is almost as much fun as reading them and we’re all greatly looking forward to this double pleasure.

“It’s a privilege to be a member of this very distinguished panel and to be part of the deliberations for the award of the Man Booker Prize, surely the most exciting and the most closely followed literary event in the English-speaking world. I believe some of the books are already waiting for us.”

Following last year’s alteration to the rules, the prize is now open to writers of any nationality, published in the UK and originally written in English.

The “Man Booker Dozen” of 12 or 13 books will be announced in August next year, the shortlist of six books in early September and the winner on 13 October.

The Narrow Road to the Deep NorthRichard Flanagan won the 2014 Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which then, according to the Booker, went on to record sales that “eclipse[d] the sum total of all Flanagan’s other book sales in the past decade”.

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Image credit: Andy Paradise

Boks are being milked by a bloated bureaucracy

NOW that the Springboks’ disappointing performance last month has been thoroughly picked over, perhaps it is time to look at the contribution of rugby’s off-field team to this demoralising episode and, hopefully, learn some lessons from it.

Last year, the Springboks played 12 games. This year, an extra two were loaded on to what was already a heavy schedule. In the last, disastrous Wales game on November 29, the Boks looked worn out, which was hardly surprising. Most of them had been playing one high-intensity, all-or-nothing game after another since Super Rugby began in February, 10 months earlier. The effect of this on their bodies was brought home by the devastating injury suffered by Jean de Villiers, whom Heyneke Meyer had days earlier identified as the one man critical to SA’s chances of winning the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

To add to the problems, the large squad felt messy: there were too many players brought along for the ride, never even getting a shot at warming the bench. There were too many black faces in this contingent not to suspect some window-dressing. But for all the passengers in the squad, both black and white, it must have been a disheartening experience.

There were questions as to why Meyer didn’t include more newcomers in his match-day squads, particularly against Italy. I think the answer lies with the off-field team.

The performance indicators in Meyer’s contract are all about winning every game. Development — racial or otherwise — will not win him a second term.

So, why did the South African Rugby Union (Saru) insist on the Boks adding on the Wales game to their schedule after the international Test window was over? The risks of this additional burden outweighed any advantage to the team.

Next year is the most important year in world rugby. Surely preparation for that should have been uppermost in everyone’s minds?

The Boks had already played Wales twice this year, so they were not gaining experience against a little-known opponent. Meyer had already had three games in which to test players’ ability to adapt to wet weather. The inevitable downside — the damage done to the Springbok brand and to team morale by a humiliating loss that will haunt them for another six months until they get a chance to redeem themselves — is huge.

The answer is money. Saru was reportedly paid £750,000 for the Wales game. When Jurie Roux, the CEO of Saru, announced that the two additional games — against the World XV in June and Wales in November — he said the extra income earned would go towards funding preparations for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Have the Springboks not already earned their keep, then? A look at Saru 2013 annual report shows its turnover for 2013 as just under R800m.

Almost of all Saru’s income is from two sources: sponsors — chief among them Absa — and the sale of broadcasting rights.

A mere R194m is allocated to “high performance”, the category that includes the Springboks, the Springbok Sevens and the Springbok Women’s team, and that sum is split among all three teams. So less than an eighth of Saru’s income goes to the team which attracts the bulk of it.

Springboks? Cash cows might be a more appropriate name. They are being flogged to the limit in order to keep afloat a bloated organisation.

My (very modest) New Year’s wishes for South African rugby are that:

• Saru transforms itself into a rational, streamlined, visionary organisation in which all its constituent parts forget self-interest and work together for the greater good of rugby;

• Saru sets the professionals free to get on with the business of producing world-beating teams that make all South Africans proud;

• The smaller unions and the clubs attached to the Super Rugby franchises stop living off the earnings of the professionals and dedicate themselves instead to semiprofessional and amateur rugby. They could have a huge role to play in restoring club rugby to its former glory — with all the concomitant benefits to the community — but for that to happen, they have to give up their pretensions of professionalism; and

• Saru and all its stakeholders think through what it means to be a flagship South African brand in 2015 and then formulate an effective policy to make it happen, starting from the top down. The Springbok coach needs to be contractually incentivised to select and develop a more racially diverse team, as do the Super Rugby coaches.

Saru should acknowledge that channelling development, particularly of black players, through its constituent unions does not work and it needs to come up with a better plan for nurturing and promoting black rugby talent.

It is pointless waiting for the government to sort out education and school sport. Saru should take the lead.

*This column first appeared in Business Day