Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Penguin's African Writers Series is stuck in the past

Akin Ajayi believes that the recently launched Penguin African Writers Series is stuck in the past. I think he has some great points here. It is hard to disprove the emerging impression that the African intellectual culture is predominantly past-oriented. There may be some powerful ideological persuasion behind that, but I am increasingly getting fidgety about the fact that the African has to glance over his shoulder several times in order to see where he is wedging his foot forward. Okay, okay, I might be taking Akin's thought a bit further than he might have dreamed, but, well, here is Akin in his beautiful words:

"Perhaps I'm hard to please, but I can't help feeling a little underwhelmed by Penguin's new African Writers Series, launched last month and published by its Modern Classics imprint. It's not that I think the series is a bad thing, far from it, but by modelling itself upon the iconic Heinemann imprint of the same name, the impulse to compare the two is irresistible. And, to judge from the first five books published, I fear that Penguin won't come out of this looking very good."

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