Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Swamp Full Of Hyenas [Book Review]

Ikhide Ikheloa is one of the good, really good reviewers out there. Those who are used to my other blog, Nigerian Literature Review, must know him. I thought I should introduce him and his good works to the readers of this African Literature News, too. He discusses one of the books I thought every Nigerian/African should read, Swamp Full of Dollars, by Michael Peel. An excellent review. ENJOY!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Petina Gappa on the Guardian First Book Prize

Our own Petina Gappah has made it to the Guardian First Book Prize. Good luck, Petina. This time, I'm sure, you'll be rewarded for what you really deserve.

"The other fiction is a collection of 13 short stories by Petina Gappah, a Zimbabwean who has spent the last 10 years working as a trade lawyer in Geneva. She began writing seriously after suffering what she called a "severe depression." In an interview with the Guardian earlier this year, Gappah said: "It was one of those early mid-life crises really. I started asking myself 'What is it that I want from my life?' This question kept haunting me: 'Do I want to be a lawyer who always wanted to be a writer, or do I actually want to be a writer?'"

Here's the rest of the story. ENJOY

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Africa's elite and the Western media

Well, friends, this is no news. I know, I know. But, well, I thought you might want to read this little piece of mine just published by the Pambazuka guys.

This is how they summed my attempts to capture the current mood of the African mind.
"Responding to intellectuals' efforts to repair the downtrodden image of African people, Chielo Zona Eze urges us to recognise that we have 'moved beyond the world shaped by the 19th century ideas of the African'. Stressing that he sees little probability of Nigeria's difficulties coming to an end anytime soon, the author asks us to consider a 'change of heart that begins with a radical rejection of the thought that the West is only interested in grubbing in the African compost'."

It would be interesting to see what you think of the essay. ENJOY.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Can I Get a Witness?

Hei! Do you know that Uwem Akpan's Say You're One of Them is still the New York Time's # 1 bestseller? Ha, ha, ha! A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
Well, I read this review published a few months ago and thought you might like to read. ENJOY!

Heavyweights vie for book prize

Another one in line for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She's on the shortlist for John Llewellyn Rhys literary prize.
Here's the scoop. Good luck to Adichie.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Week two: points of view

For those who missed it, Professor John Mullan has a great analysis of Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun.
This is a sample of his insightful discussion:
"Structurally, the crucial viewpoint is Ugwu's. The novel begins with his experience and he is given the book's last words, which are the dedication of a book about the Biafran war, extracts from which have been interleaved throughout the novel. We were led to believe that this book was being written by Richard, the professional writer who has set out to record this historic catastrophe, his righteous "indictment of the world". As the novel ends, he gives up on the project, and the title he was using – The World Was Silent When We Died – is taken over by the former houseboy."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why I Write In Mother Tongue

I thought you might like to read the latest on Ngugi wa Thiong'o's take on Africans and their native languages.
This is a taste of Gregory Austin Nwakunor's report on the recently held conference in Port Harcourt. It was at the conference that Ngugi wa Thiong'o spoke:
"Since Ngugi was launched into literary consciousness in 1964 by the 'infantile' masterpiece, Weep Not Child, he has mature in his craft, growing from 'singular' to 'plurimental' heroism."
By the way, I am always fascinated by how Nigerian journalists make use of English. Does anyone understand what the above writer meant by infantile masterpiece? The last time I checked my dictionary infantile meant "very immature." Is Weep Not Child very immature? And what in Good Buka's name, is plurimental?

Enjoy if you can.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sorry Chimamanda, We Need The Single Story Of Our Failures!

John Iteshi has an interesting take on Chimamanda's speech. Here's a scoop:
"I have painstakingly watched the beautifully delivered speech by Ms Chimamanda Adichie on “the Dangers of a Single Story”. The main point of her speech is that Europeans have mainly propagated a single story of Africa which is always about our poverty, wars and in short, all about negative things. She basically wants the rest of the world to also acknowledge good things about Africa, especially the fact that not everybody in Africa is starving."

Iteshi's is a radical and sincere analysis of the African condition and Chimamanda Adichie's speech.ENJOY!

Did Chimamanda Get the African Story Right?

Last week I posted the singularly beautiful talk delivered by our own brilliant Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It was titled: "The dangers of a Single Story." The following day I also posted what I thought was, or should be, seen as a counter to Chimamanda's Achebean single story: Chris Abani's muse on humanity. I love both speeches, and I am particularly proud of these giants of the reborn African literature.
One question remains to be answered. More than fifty years after the publication of Things Fall Apart, which did a great job in challenging the Western narrative of Africa, it would seem that we Africans still have the need to keep on begging the West to understand us. Do we really need the West to understand us more than we need to understand ourselves, one another? Do Nigerians understand one another? I don't have an answer to this. If anyone has, I would be more than pleased to learn from him/her.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Talks Chris Abani muses on humanity

And this.
"Chris Abani tells stories of people: People standing up to soldiers. People being compassionate. People being human and reclaiming their humanity. It's "ubuntu," he says: the only way for me to be human is for you to reflect my humanity back at me."
Isn't he great?

Talks Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story

Have you see this?

"Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding."

Isn't she beautiful and great? ENJOY!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Why do South Africans hate Nigerians?

It looks I am now posting lots of things here. But, well, this has to do with literature. Good Lawd, how couldn't it be the case? After all it is Chimamanda! Friends, she is literature.
Well enjoy some of her interesting thoughts on why Nigerians and South Africans (Black South Africans!) are as friendly as Germans and Brits. Did I take the comparison too far? I don't know. Well, ENJOY!


Something seems to be brewing here. I don't know whether this website is official or not. But well, since it is now on the public domain, I think I can share it with you.
Here is the gist: Together with two other authors, Chris Abani, the famous Nigerian-American novelist put together a book documentation of his impression of Nollywood, the Nigerian film (sorry) video industry. The overall impression is that Nollywood art production is crude, and, indeed, it feeds on the macabre, the exotic and Gothic.
Some Nigerians don't seem to have taken this so well. They are fuming that Chris Abani has misrepresented Nigeria. I'm yet to grasp the extent of anger here. Well, I'm still gathering info on this.
If you have time, please read this polemic. I will come back to the issue of Nollywood and the Nigerian, indeed, African psyche sometime.
Enjoy if you can.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Notes from an opening: The Garden City Literary Festival

It is good to know that literary festivals, fests, meetings and what have you, are burgeoning in different corners in Africa or in the Diaspora by Africans. Zimbabweans in the Diaspora appear to make the most noise - weighty noise that is. Their blogs are everywhere - of course I have to mention Emmanuel Sigauke, Ivor Hartmann, Petina Gappah. Then you have this beautiful online journal, Sea Breeze, organized by Liberian writers and lovers of literature. Of course Kenyans are there, too. Talk of Kwani and its beautiful activities.

Molara Wood reports from Port Harcourt, one of the literary capitals in Nigeria. Good things are happening there, friends. And in Nigeria, my dear country. I smile for my beloved country. You get?

One character in J.M Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello suggested to Africans that if they want the world to take their literature seriously, they themselves should take it seriously, read, read and read their works. Some might see this as somehow too biting an observation, but I think it is true. This is exactly what these literary fests, blogs, facebooks, conferences will achieve. Literature is coming back to Africa - after several years of hiatus due to misrule and other things beyond the writers' control.
Literature is coming back home! Are you ready to welcome her!

By the way (before I'm carried away by the joy of the coming of the bride), here is Molara Wood's report. ENJOY!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Guinea Seethes as a Captain Rules at Gunpoint

I truly hate to interrupt my dear lovers of literature with this mundane, all too mundane report: the Guinean soldiers shooting spree, the recklessness with which the new leader handles the fate of ten million Guineans, the utter disregard for the basic humanity of our fellow Africans, the, … I truly can’t add anything to this. Please read the article yourself and judge. Nevertheless, I ask myself as an intellectual, as an African humanist, what all this has to say about me. Where is my heart in all of this? Where is my mind? What have I done to bring people (Africans) to respect people (Africans).

By the way here is the Article.