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Genre novels are "governed by limitations". A literary novel "by nothing". Contentious stuff via @GuardianBooks:

Fiction Friday: "Bread and Roses" by Tendai Huchu

The Hairdresser of HarareThe song “Bread and Roses” by Comrade Fatso and Chabvondoka was the inspiration for a new short story by Zimbabwean-born Tendai Huchu, author of the acclaimed The Hairdresser of Harare.

In this story, also titled “Bread and Roses”, Huchu uses the lyrics of the song to tell the story of a vendor selling “rape and tomatoes/ tomatoes and rape“, through the eyes of her child. The child witnesses a raid on the vendors by the police.

Huch told Brittle Paper that “with the self-immolation of Mohammed Bouaziz in Tunisia (2011) that set off the Arab Spring, I gradually developed a new understanding of the song and just how subversive it is”, which led him to use its lyrics in this story.

Listen to the song and read the story:

My belly wakes me again/ ndomuka nafour dzemakuseni. In my dreams I am someplace far away. I’ve been to America, South Africa, the moon, away from this house of hunger. Each night, I lay my head on the pillow and shut my eyes. For a few hours everything is alright again. Then I wake up, full bladder, stomach aching, Mama snoring on the bed and little Chiwoniso tossing and turning beside her.

A mosquito bites my arm. I let it feed for a moment, then squash it. I lie on my mat on the floor, looking at the moon peering through the torn curtain in the one window of our one room in Mbare. I get up, creep outside to the bathroom and bath. The cold water in the bucket winds me, but I grit my chattering teeth and endure, lathering myself in the sweet scent of Lifebuoy.

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Image courtesy Glasgow Life

RIP Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1927-2014

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel Prize-winning author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, has died in Mexico, it has been widely reported. He was 87 years old.

One Hundred Years of SolitudeMarquez received 1982 the Nobel Prize in Literature, some fifteen years after his iconic – some would call it immortal – novel of magic realism was published. The Nobel committee cited his “richly composed world of imagination.”

García Márquez received the Nobel Prize in Literature on 8 December 1982 “for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts”. His acceptance speech was entitled “The Solitude of Latin America”. García Márquez was the first Colombian and fourth Latin American to win a Nobel Prize for Literature.[118] After becoming a Nobel laureate, García Márquez stated to a correspondent: “I have the impression that in giving me the prize, they have taken into account the literature of the sub-continent and have awarded me as a way of awarding all of this literature.”

The Columbian author, who had made his home in Mexico for decades, had recently been ill. Here are tributes and notices from the Internet:

Widely considered the most popular Spanish-language writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century, Garcia Marquez achieved literary celebrity that spawned comparisons to Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.

“Being a contemporary of Gabo was like living in the time of Homer,” said Colombian writer Hector Abad Faciolince, who described “One Hundred Years” as Latin America’s first and only epic work of literature.”In a mythic and poetic way, he explained our origins. His verbal imagination and creative force were astonishing.”

Matching commercial success with critical acclaim, García Márquez became a standard-bearer for Latin American letters, establishing a route for negotiations between guerillas and the Colombian government, building a friendship with Fidel Castro, and maintaining a feud with fellow literature laureate Maria Vargas Llosa that lasted more than 30 years.

“Each new work of his is received by expectant critics and readers as an event of world importance,” the Swedish Academy of Letters said in awarding him the Nobel.

Mr. García Márquez was considered the supreme exponent, if not the creator, of the literary genre known as magic realism, in which the miraculous and the real converge. In his novels and stories, storms rage for years, flowers drift from the skies, tyrants survive for centuries, priests levitate, and corpses fail to decompose. And, more plausibly, lovers rekindle their passion after a half century apart.

Peter Stone interviewed Marquez for The Paris Review‘s “Art of Fiction” series in 1981:


How did you start writing?


By drawing. By drawing cartoons. Before I could read or write I used to draw comics at school and at home. The funny thing is that I now realize that when I was in high school I had the reputation of being a writer, though I never in fact wrote anything. If there was a pamphlet to be written or a letter of petition, I was the one to do it because I was supposedly the writer. When I entered college I happened to have a very good literary background in general, considerably above the average of my friends. At the university in Bogotá, I started making new friends and acquaintances, who introduced me to contemporary writers. One night a friend lent me a book of short stories by Franz Kafka. I went back to the pension where I was staying and began to read The Metamorphosis. The first line almost knocked me off the bed. I was so surprised.

Farewell, Gabo.

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Photo courtesy

Ben Okri to Receive Honorary Doctorate in South Africa

Ben Okri

Alert! Nigerian author Ben Okri will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Pretoria next week.

The Famished RoadSongs of EnchantmentInfinite RichesDangerous LoveWildTales of FreedomIncidents at the Shrine

It will be the first time an African university has honoured Okri, one of the continent’s most prominent voices. The author won the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Famished Road in 1991.

Okri will receive a DLitt (honoris causa) on 25 April, during the university’s autumn graduation ceremonies.

The degree is meant, in the words of Vice Chancellor Prof CM de la Rey, to serve as a token of the fact that Okri is “widely recognised as an international writer and scholar”, and also to acknowledge Okri’s “contribution to the contemporary world of literature”.

Okri’s will be the second honorary doctorate awarded by a South African university to a major writer in recent times. In December, the University of the Witwatersrand conferred an honorary degree on JM Coetzee.

Here’s the press release from the University of Pretoria:

Ben Okri, Honoris Causa, University of Pretoria by Books LIVE

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Image courtesy the Guardian

Michael Stanley's Deadly Harvest Shortlisted for 2014 International Thriller Writers Award

Deadly HarvestAlert! Deadly Harvest, the latest novel by Michael Stanley (writing duo Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip), has been shortlisted for this year’s International Thriller Writers (ITW) Thriller Awards.

The pair’s previous book, Death of the Mantis, won a Barry Award in 2012.

Deadly Harvest, the fourth book in the Detective Kubu series, has been nominated in the “Best Paperback Original Novel” category of the 2014 ITW Thriller Awards along with Allison Brennan’s Cold Snap, Kendra Elliot’s Buried, Susan Elia MacNeal’s His Majesty’s Hope, Jennifer McMahon’s The One I Left Behind and Nele Neuhaus’ Snow White Must Die. The other categories are “Best Hardcover Novel”, “Best First Novel”, “Best Short Story”, “Best Adult Novel”, and “Best eBook Original Novel”.

The winners of the awards will be announced on 12 July at ThrillerFest IX to be held in New York. Best of luck to Sears and Trollip!

We’re thrilled to announce the finalists for the 2014 ITW Thriller Awards:


Linda Castillo – HER LAST BREATH (Minotaur Books)
Lee Child – NEVER GO BACK (Delacorte Press)
Lisa Gardner – TOUCH AND GO (Dutton Adult)
Stephen King – DOCTOR SLEEP (Scribner)
Owen Laukkanen – CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE (Putnam Adult)
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – WHITE FIRE (Grand Central Publishing)
Andrew Pyper – THE DEMONOLOGIST (Simon & Schuster)

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NoViolet Bulawayo Gives Her Etisalat Prize Fellowship to Runner-up Yewande Omotoso

We Need New NamesBom BoyNoViolet Bulawayo, winner of the inaugural Etisalat Prize for Literature for debut fiction, has announced that she will be giving the fellowship included in the prize to the runner-up, Bom Boy author Yewande Omotoso.

The fellowship consists of four months at the University of East Anglia in Norwich under the mentorship of Professor Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland. It was announced yesterday by the Etisalat Prize that Bulawayo “has, in a genuine demonstration of sportsmanship, gifted her runner-up, Yewande Omotoso the Fellowship attached to her winning”.

“I have gifted it to my runner-up, Yewande Omotoso in the hope that her participation would further promote the values that Etisalat Nigeria sought to achieve with this literary prize,” Bulawayo says, explaining that her Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University means that she would not be able to take advantage of the other fellowship.

Bulawayo has been on a roll this year with her debut novel We Need New Names winning the Etisalat Prize in February, the 2014 PEN / Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction in March and the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction at the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes this month.

Winner of the maiden edition of the Etisalat Prize for Literature, NoViolet Bulawayo has, in a genuine demonstration of sportsmanship, gifted her runner-up, Yewande Omotoso the Fellowship attached to her winning.

Expressing her magnanimity, the author of ‘We Need New Names’ Bulawayo said “My prior commitment to a fellowship at Stanford University will not permit me to take advantage of the Etisalat Fellowship aspect of the prize and I have gifted it to my runner-up, Yewande Omotoso in the hope that her participation would further promote the values that Etisalat Nigeria sought to achieve with this literary prize”.

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Images courtesy Boston Review and Charlotte’s Web

JM Coetzee, Ivan Vladislavić and NoViolet Bulawayo to Attend the Worlds Literature Festival in Norwich

Writers’ Centre Norwich will host an evening with JM Coetzee, Ivan Vladislavić, NoViolet Bulawayo, Chinese-British novelist Xiaolu Guo, and German author Julia Franck as part of the Worlds Literature Festival.

The Childhood of JesusDouble NegativeWe Need New Names
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for LoversThe Blind Side of the Heartnull

The star-studded event will take place on 19 June, at the Norwich Playhouse, Norwich, England, with tickets costing £12 (+/-R210).

Press release:

Writers’ Centre Norwich would love you to join us in welcoming Nobel Laureate JM Coetzee back to Norwich, City of Literature, for a very special Worlds Literature Festival event.

In years past Coetzee has wowed Playhouse audiences with sharp new prose and an even sharper presence, and this time will be no exception. The Man Booker prize winning author of Life & Times of Michael K and Disgrace is highly sought-after the world over but rarely appears; we’re promised a special and electric evening that you won’t want to miss.

Coetzee will be joined by international talents NoViolet Bulwayo (We Need New Names), Xiaolu Guo (A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers), Julia Franck (The Blind Side of the Heart) and Ivan Vladislavić (Double Negative) for an evening of world literature that will invigorate and absorb you.
Book your place now.

About the authors

JM Coetzee was born in South Africa in 1940. He won the 1983 Booker Prize for Life & Times of Michael K and then again with Disgrace in 1999. In 2003 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Coetzee lives in Australia.

Julia Franck was born in 1970 in Berlin. She studied Ancient American Studies, Philosophy and German Literature at the Free University Berlin. Her books include The New Chef, Love servants, Stories to Touch and Campfire. Her novel The Mittagsfrau Franck was awarded the 2007 German Book Prize and has sold over 1 million copies.

Xiaolu Guo was born in a fishing village in south China. She studied film at the Beijing Film Academy and published six books in China before she moved to London in 2002. Her first novel written in English, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers was shortlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. In 2013 she was named as one of Granta‘s Best of Young British Novelists.

Ivan Vladislavić is the author of the highly praised The Restless Supermarket, as well as award-winning non-fiction, Portrait with Keys, which won the Alan Paton Award. Originally part of a collaborative project with photographer David Goldblatt, Double Negative won the University of Johannesburg Creative Writing Prize 2010/11. Vladislavić currently lives in Johannesburg.
(Supported by And Other Stories)

NoViolet Bulawayo was born and raised in Zimbabwe and recently won the inaugural Etisalat Prize for Literature for her acclaimed debut novel We Need New Names. In 2011 NoViolet won the Caine Prize for African Writing and her work has also been shortlisted for the 2009 South Africa PEN Studzinsi Award. She earned her MFA at Cornell University, where she was also awarded a Truman Capote Fellowship, and she is currently a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

“Her honesty, her voice, her formidable command of her craft – all were apparent from the first page” – Junot Díaz on Bulawayo


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Images courtesy of Writers’ Centre Norwich