Five African authors – including two South Africans – have made the shortlist for the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
The shortlisted South Africans are Jayne Bauling, for “Left”, and Fred Khumalo, for “Legs of Thunder”.
This year’s edition of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize attracted a record number of nearly 4 000 entries. The shortlist – 22 stories from 11 countries – was chosen by judges Leila Aboulela, Fred D’Aguiar, Marina Endicott, Witi Ihimaera, Bina Shah and chair Romesh Gunesekera. Five regional winners will be announced on 28 April.
Other African authors on the list are Alexander Ikawah and Muthoni wa Gichuru of Kenya, and Lesley Nneka Arimah of Nigeria.
2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist:
Rachel Stevenson (United Kingdom)
Alexander Ikawah (Kenya)
Alecia McKenzie (Jamaica)
Jennifer Mills (Australia)
Mary Rokonadravu (Fiji)
Souvankham Thammavongsa (Canada)
Jayne Bauling (South Africa)
Fred Khumalo (South Africa)
Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria)
Toodesh Ramesar (Trinidad and Tobago)
Maria Reva (Canada)
Jessica White (Australia)
Amina Farah (Canada)
Steve Charters (New Zealand)
Susan Yardley (Australia)
Meenakshi Gautam Chaturvedi (India)
Jonathan Tel (United Kingdom)
Muthoni wa Gichuru (Kenya)
Kevin Jared Hosein (Trinidad and Tobago)
Siddhartha Gigoo (India)
Shahnaz Habib (India)
Darren Doyle (Trinidad and Tobago)
Bauling is the author of Stepping Solo and Dreaming of Light. Last year, she was shortlisted for a 2014 Golden Baobab Prize and was runner-up in the Short Story Day Africa competition, Feast, Famine and Potluck. Her story “Flight” was shortlisted for the 2012 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
His accent is strange and rich to her ears. She must strain to understand what he is saying and even then the sense of it sometimes slips past her. His name, she knows from the board at the entrance downstairs, is Szymanski. She has never attempted it, nervous of mispronunciation, although her own name is nearly unrecognisable on his tongue.
She thinks of inviting him to call her by her first name, but suspects he would find it improper. He might even be alarmed, thinking her about to impose, to burden him.
She had never anticipated that loss would make her timid, fearful of oppressing others with her grief.
Khumalo is the author of Zulu Boy Gone Crazy: Hilarious Tales Post Polokwane, the European Union Literary Award-winning novel Bitches’ Brew and a memoir, Touch My Blood, which shortlisted for the Alan Paton Prize for Non-fiction in 2007.
From “Legs of Thunder”
Look, she would say, you can clean tripe for hygienic purposes; you can package it glamorously; you can market it whichever way you want to upmarket consumers; you can call it exotic names – mala mogodu, itwani, upense, or whatever tickles your fancy. But for crying in a bucket don’t pulverize the darn thing by soaking it in bleach. When you do that, it turns completely white and textureless. With the colour gone, the funk is gone; the grit is gone; the grease is gone. And with the funk and the grit and the grease gone, the flavour is gone! So, what’s the point? Might as well eat bleached dishwashing rags and bleached veggies! Nomcebo was so determined to prepare a dish of proper tripe for dinner she did not mind driving up the busy Louis Botha Avenue, all the way to Hillbrow. Tripe and dumplings, ahhhhh …
Die tekste is nie spesifiek geskryf as kortverhaalmateriaal nie, maar daar is ’n hele paar wat myns insiens hul plek sal volstaan in enige Groot kortverhaalboek: stories soos onder andere Clinton V. du Plessis se “Dubbelvisie”, Heilna du Plooy se “Die foto”, Rita Gilfillan se “Ydelheid der Ydelheden”, Maretha Maartens se “ Die sagte oë van beeste”, Myra Scheepers se “Tuiskoms” en Jan van Tonder se “Die Queen se operator” verdien ’n tweede lees. Ander lesers sal moontlik ’n ander keuse uitoefen, maar dit is hoekom dit so lekker is om te lees
en te onthou.
Margot Luyt het onlangs ‘n kortverhaal deur Petra Müller op RSG se Kortom-program voorgelees.
Die verhaal se naam is “Belhambra” en word gevind in Müller se bundel Desembers: ‘n Kortverhaalkeur wat in 2010 by Tafelberg verskyn het en deur Rachelle Greeff saamgestel is.
‘n Ma en haar slapende baba rus in die skaduwee onder die Belhambraboom en wanneer sy omkyk sit daar ‘n man langs haar en begin oor die boom te gesels. Hy vertel dat hulle dit ‘n “hoenderbessieboom” genoem het en dring aan dat sy met hom moet gesels en nie ophou praat nie.
Die verteller wonder hardop of die vreemdeling nie dalk van lotjie getik nie, maar hulle begin tog te gesels.
Luister na die potgooi:
Fabulous: Late Middle English (in the sense ‘known through fable’): from French fabuleux or Latin fabulosus ‘celebrated in fable’, from fabula (see fable). The launch of two new collections of short stories celebrating the wealth of African storytelling in the “speculative fiction” genre was, quite simply, fabulous.
Terra Incognita, edited by Nerine Dorman, is breaking new ground and there is great hopes that once again, a story from this collection will catch the attention of the Caine Prize judges. Last year’s winner and one shortlisted writer emerged from the short story collection Feast, Famine and Potluck, so the aspiration has a fine precedent!
The organisers of Short Story Day Africa, South African novelists Rachel Zadok and Tiah Beautement, raised a glass to the new fables that are being written from the continent. They are particularly excited by the narratives emerging from the youngest writers and took delight in watching the new authors autographing readers’ copies of Follow the Road, edited by Máire Fisher and Beautement.
Founder, Zadok, pointed out that on 21 June this year they will be celebrating the fifth anniversary of Short Story Day Africa.
“The project has transformed so much since it began that the name no longer seems appropriate. We’re not simply a day to celebrate African short stories, but a global community of African writers and readers working towards a common aim of creating platforms for great African writing where we can write what we like,” Zadok said.
“The quality and diversity of the voices in Terra Incognita, in my humble if bragging opinion, is exceptional. Considering that many of these writers are being published for the first time, that’s saying something.”
Zadok highlighted that a literature in its infancy, as many believe African literature to be, could hardly have produced new writing like this.
Beautement introduced each writer, commending the younger ones in particular for their bravery. “Reading in front of large audience is tough, even for adults!” she said. The youngsters appeared undaunted, however, and 11-year-old Kiera-Lee Hayes, who read on behalf of her brother and sister whose work features in Follow the Road, got some laughs when she spoke about writing a time-travelling story. She said, “I thought it was so original, until I read the anthology and saw that almost everyone had written one.”
Beautement handed over a prize to Young Adult category winner Kaya Oosthuizen – a large hamper of books for her school library – and praised the story’s originality and encouraged her to keep at her craft. She also gave special mention to 17-year-old William Burger, who entered his final YA story. “He is a writer with much promise,” she said, “and Short Story Day Africa is eager to see what he produces in the future.”
Beautement also thanked the sponsors who had pledged their support for the project and facilitated its ongoing success. She encouraged those present to donate directly to the organisation which would alleviate some of the painful reality of losing 20 percent to bank fees every year.
The highlight of the evening was Diane Awerbuck reading “Leatherman”, the prize-winning story from Terra Incognita.
Read “Leatherman” here.
* * * * * * * *
Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:
* * * * * * * *
Short Story Day Africa launched two new anthologies at The Book Lounge on Wednesday, 18 March with contributors reading and discussing their work.
Posted by Books LIVE on Thursday, 26 March 2015
In a recent episode of The Simpsons, entitled “The Princess Guide”, a Nigerian princess comes to Springfield, and shares some of her favourite Nigerian literature with Moe.
Princess Kemi, whose father is negotiating a business deal with Mr Burns, is entrusted into the care of Homer Simpson. He predictably fails to look out for her, and she gets stuck at Moe’s Bar instead.
At the end of the episode, Kemi gives Moe four books: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, The Famished Road by Ben Okri, Home and Exile by Chinua Achebe and The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Jennifer Sefa-Boakye wrote an article for OkayAfrica about the episode.
Read the article:
As a token of Princess Kemi’s gratitude to Moe for serving as her guide during a tour of Springfield (soundtracked by King Sunny Ade’s “Eni Binu Wa“) she gifts him with, as she describes it, some of Nigeria’s “most beloved, albeit depressing literature.”
Images courtesy of OkayAfrica
Africa 39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara heaves with what Wole Soyinka, in an introduction that touches on his art of trawling for books, calls “shamelessly undialectical narratives”. But it is also a collection laden with other types of narratives, such as those recently filed under the label “tyranny of subject” by author Ben Okri.
Africa 39’s majesty, however, lies in its valiant approach to these worn themes and in the variation not only of subject matter but of form.