Saturday, November 28, 2009

There is no such thing as pure African culture

Have you read Doreen Baingana's Tropical Fish? I read it once and then twice, and then fell for Doreen. She's good. What got me is the rugged philosophy and worldview she carefully articulates in each story. In an interview granted to Jerry Adesewo, she articulates parts of her philosophy that caught my attention. She's good. Anyway, read the interview and see what I mean. ENJOY!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Trusting Your Narrator

This is one small step for writing, but a giant leap for aesthetics. Knowing that there is a difference between you, the author, and the "puppet" you have created to tell your stories, the narrator. That can help you take the necessary distance between you and what you have created, your ideas.
Thanks, Emmanuel. ENJOY!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sisters on the edge

Aderinsola Ajao does a good review of Chika Unigwe's novel, On Black Sisters' Street, and comes with this verdict: "On Black Sisters' Street is a worthwhile read. The memory of it stays with the reader and the question "What if?", whenever we remember Sisi or any of the other girls is one we cannot answer, but wish we could.
Life and the burden of memory linger and hound in this novel."
As of today the novel is not yet featured on Amazon US. I'll inform you when it is the case. Anyway, enjoy the review.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chinua Achebe: Too Dangerous For Absence

Sonala Olumhense does an excellent, entertaining review of Chinua Achebe's latest offering. I love this review. Great, great job.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

How Not to Write a Novel

Niyi Ige reviews T.M. Aluko's novel, Our Born Again President, and suggests that it is a perfect example of how not to conceive of a novel.
A sample of Niyi's judgment:
"There are far too many clich├ęs and the characters are one dimensional. The narrator, Steven - a top civil servant and principal secretary to both Sir Angus and latterly, David Tanbata, - permits us to view the transformation of David Tanbata at close quarters but provides little in the way of insight or complexity. It is all too predictable and that is sad because the plot might have had greater possibilities than what T.M Aluko has bequeathed us; and the characters certainly might have been better realised. He has settled for a rather basic morality tale and the book is all the poorer for it."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Waiting is the Worst Part

In the absence of any serious Africa-centered literature news, I thought you might like to read this.
"When JACOB WONDERBAR went out to editors I really thought I was going to be completely cool about the submission process. I'm an agent! I've seen this before! I've sold projects that were out on submission for six months and even a year! How hard could it be?
So. Being a Big Bad Experienced Agent, how long did it take me to crack?"

And by the way, the author of this article, Nathan Bransford, is a literary agent. ENJOY

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What writers should know about the publishing process

This is for writers among us, for those who have laboriously penned down their ideas and believed that the outcome would knock people off their feet. You get the first rejection letter, you fume and curse and realize that the world is just unfair. If you have a partner you'd want to hear from him/her that you're still a genius. But are you? Anyway, after about a week, you shrug off the disappointment and begin to write again and again and again. Well, friends, I'm sure your efforts will see the light of day sometime. Meanwhile this is a good piece of advice for you, by Louis Greenberg of. ENJOY!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ugandan official: cane dead bodies as example to the living

I thought this is just beautiful. I'm looking for ways to incorporate it in my fiction:
Ugandans punish the dead, yes, the dead, I mean dead bodies in order to teach the living some lessons. This is cool. My Jesuit professor in Innsbruck used to say this: Ex Africa Semper Aliquid Novi.
Okay, read this and tell me why I shouldn't laugh off my dear head.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How to Compose a Poem with your garment

I thought you might like to read this. It's all about African forms of writing! Writing? you would ask. Yes, it is, and it's also pure poetry for it's something made to provide pleasure (remember the Greek origin of poetry, poesis). Okay, these designers have a unique way of saying something with their clothes they put out there, and of course, these beautiful ladies make my heart flatter and patter and chatter and clatter! Lawd have mussy!
Here's the essay that might make you smile a bit and perhaps write a poem or two. I love the title by the way: Kangalicious! ENJOY!

Friday, November 13, 2009

You can run, but you can't hide

A few days ago, Chinua Achebe denied that he was the father of African literature. But just as he was about to relax, thinking that he has put to rest this whole troubling issue of who fathered African literature, Emmanuel Sigauka called him out on the very issue. "Ha, ha ha," Emmanuel said. "Sir, you can run, but you can't hide. You, are the father of African literature and upon this rock, I build my ..."
Well, please see how Sigauke crafted his powerful, really convincing essay even if I am a bit of a different opinion. Another thing to love about Sigauke's essay is his ample reference to many important works in African literature, works that every educated African should have read.(If not, please - - I whisper it - - go and read these works).
Okay, as I was saying before the rambler in me took over, ..., well, here is Siguake's powerful essay. ENJOY!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

You Think You Can Blog?

One of the few voices that modern African literature owes its vibrancy to, Emmanuel Sigauke, invites guest bloggers to write for his popular blog, Wealth of Ideas. You can write about anything pertaining to literature, he says: Reviews, bios, gossips, conjectures, indeed anything. Okay, it's better to hear from the horse's (my goodness, this expression is too English, horses don't speak), okay hear from the popular blogger and reviewer's mouth.

Achebe rejects endorsement as 'father of modern African literature'

Is Achebe the father of Modern African literature? Achebe himself doesn't think so.

"The author of the multi-million bestseller Things Fall Apart, Achebe was given the label by Nadine Gordimer as he was awarded the Man Booker International prize two years ago; it has been frequently used both before and since. But the author said yesterday that he "resisted that very, very strongly"."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nairobi Heat - Mukoma wa Ngugi

Announcing the arrival of a freshly minted book by a promising African writer, Mukoma wa Ngugi. The book is called Nairobi Heat. It is not yet yet ready for boarding in the US. So, bros and sis, hold your boarding cards ready.
Did I say that Mukoma is the/a son of Ngugi wa Thiong'o? Nuff said! The apple can't fall far from the tree, can it?
Here's the scoop!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The lost promise of outrage

One day, when the story of the renaissance of African literature is written, it will probably begin like this: There is Caine Prize, there is Adichie, there's Chris Abani, Helon Habila, Petina Gappah, Sefi Atta - have I missed your favorite, ah, Chikwava, Uwem Akpan and many more.
That day the story of our literature will be written, the first page, or at least the second, will surely contain words like these: Ikhide Ikheloa was a midwife, an excellent midwife, who sometimes pinched the pregnant woman to push harder, pricked the child to cry. Cry, baby, cry. Here, he has perfected the fine art of prodding, urging and shepherding of artists to realize their promises (no pun intended). A beautiful review of Ogochukwu Promise's Outrage.
Here's one of the many beautiful paragraphs:
"Art imitates life’s reality. The frustration with all of this is that there is a beautiful story in Outrage. In the indisciplined hands of vanity printing, the result is a tedious disaster. It is a rich but inchoate tale told by a talented storyteller whose voice has been garroted by communal mediocrity largely beyond her control."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

We are sailing

Mukoma wa Ngugi's novel, Nairobi Heat, has just been published by Penguin. Mukoma has just published an essay that many image-conscious Africans will surely frown at. Oh, well, it appears he has some true words to say aloud:

"Kenya is a country that has the dubious distinction of having the largest slum in Africa, one so famous that it has become a tourist attraction. Life is cheap. People die all the time – from car thieves, shoot-outs between the police and bank robbers, extra-judicial killings, car accidents, not to mention diseases such as AIDS, malaria and even typhoid. Child kidnappings, for ransom, are on the rise. And for $100 you can have someone assassinated."

Do you know that Mukoma is Ngugi wa Thiong'o's son. Thank God there is this disparity between these generations. Please read this essay.
If you're a writer it might help redirect your trajectory. If you are a potential leader, this might get you to think of what you'd do to right the African ship spinning around itself out there in the ocean. ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Strange Passages To Harare North [Book Review]

A review of the Zimbabwean writer, Brian Chikwava's novel, Passages to Harrare North, by Ikhide Ikheloa. Ikheloa is one of the few reviewers out there who keep African literature alive. Sometimes, though, he sparks controversy here and there. Perhaps rightly so. This particular review has already. Some love it, some hate it, some would even like to punch the reviewer in the, in the, ... where-it-pains-a-man-most. I would like you, dear reader, to read the whole review and judge for yourself. This is how it begins:

"There is this thing called the Caine Prize for African Literature, whatever that means. People compete for it and someone invariably wins. There is a lot of noise making and jollification for a deserved win and the poor winner is expected to write a book. The poor fellow always obliges and dutifully produces a thoroughly wretched book. It hardly ever fails. There have been notable exceptions but one would argue that the writer wrote a good book despite winning the Caine Prize. One such wretched book is Harare North, written by the brilliant, perhaps gifted Brian Chikwava. He is destined to write a good book - once he finds his voice. It is just that right now, his toes are flirting with crickets while Africa is carrying elephants on her head. There are few books that have frustrated me more than Harare North. It is like staring in anger at a rich pot of soup ruined by an impish but talented cook."


Monday, November 2, 2009

Black woman wins Prix Goncourt for the first time

Who says Africa has not yet arrived on the world scene? In literature, sure, we have. And much more is coming. We have powerful names like Petina Gappah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Seffi Atta, Chris Abani and many others whose works are enjoyed all over the world for their sheer aesthetic quality, and of course, their content. Now, the Senegalese writer, Marie NDiaye, has fired her own shot from France. She has won the prestigious Prix Goncourt, the 106 year French literary prize. Here's the story. ENJOY!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nigerian Sefi Atta Wins the 2009 Noma Award

Before Caine Prize there was Noma Award for publishing in Africa. Noma what? You might say. Oh, yes, Noma Award, right in the heart of Africa. Remember, it was this award that gave us Mariama Ba of te So Long a Letter! Yes, Sefi Atta has won just that prize. Great things keep on coming together for this great writer; they trickle in. Like good wine. I mean palm wine! ENJOY