Monday, November 20, 2006

Just in case you've run out of ideas for books to read, here comes the mother of all prize lists, the 2007 Impac/Dublin Literary Award longlist (incidentally, also a tidy sum if won, at 100 000 euros). The Africans on it are:
Leila Aboulela MINARET (Sudan)
Andre Brink PRAYING MANTIS (South Africa)
J.M. Coetzee SLOW MAN (South Africa)
Diana Evans 26A (UK/Nigeria)
Nadine Gordimer GET A LIFE (South Africa)
Abdulrazak Gurnah DESERTION (Zanzibar)
Uzodinma Iweala BEASTS OF NO NATION (USA/Nigeria)
Dan Jacobson ALL FOR LOVE (South Africa)
Zakes Mda THE WHALECALLER (South Africa)
Jude Njoku THE QUICK SANDS (Nigeria)
Helen Oyeyemi THE ICARUS GIRL (UK/Nigeria)
Johan Steyn FATHER MICHAEL'S LOTTERY (South Africa)
Ndikaru wa Teresia CRY OF THE OPPRESSED (Kenya)
Rachel Zadok GEM SQUASH TOKOLOSHE (South Africa).

I am embarrassed to say that I have never heard of Njoku, Steyn or Wa Teresia so will have to track these down immediately - the three of them also happen to be writers not yet published in the west, so there's a definite correlation there. An additional complication is that Wa Teresia appears to be self-published in Kenya, so this one may be a challenge to track down! Interestingly, only 5 of the 14 currently live on the continent, and I suppose there's always the question of whether writers like Evans, Iweala and Oyeyemi would actually even call themselves African given that they have been raised outside the continent.

There is a review of the latest book, MY MOTHER'S LOVERS, by South African Christopher Hope, one of the Impac/Dublin judges in 1996.

Nadine Gordimer was recently robbed and threatened in her home in South Africa. Her response to the attack was very different to Andre Brink's charge in the press which I wrote about last month, but no less valid. Read further about what she had to say here.

Shawn Slovo (sister to the author Gillian Slovo) has written the screenplay to a movie causing stirs in the film industry, CATCH A FIRE, shown recently at the London Film Festival. This article gives some of the background to Patrick Chamusso on whom the movie is based, including some of the very interesting story of the Slovo family. If this movie is anything like Shawn Slovo's 1988 film A WORLD APART then we are in for a real treat. If you have not yet seen A WORLD APART, then I highly recommend it to you. It is a truly representative film about South African white activist experience (CRY FREEDOM is nowhere near as good - too much Hollywood treatment). Although their names are changed (to Roth) in the film, it is about the Slovo family, whose story is deeply entwined with the history of the country. A WORLD APART was banned in South Africa when it came out and we would meet hush-hush to watch copies which themselves had been copied so many times that the quality of the film was distorted with stripy lines and fuzzy snow, smuggled from house to house. I can't recommend it highly enough. An exceptional film and an outstanding cast which deservedly won just about every award thrown at it at the time. A fitting tribute to the extraordinary humanity of Joe Slovo and Ruth First.

Going back to the Impac/Dublin longlist - I think I will give the African titles a whirl from February once the From The Stacks reading challenge is over! It helps that I've already read some of these, but I certainly haven't posted on any (except - in passing - Oyeyemi). Perhaps some of you will join me in the new year with a little selection from the longlist to your own criteria (all138 titles might be pushing it a bit!) as the shortlist will be announced March/April 2007.

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Blogger Lotus Reads said...

I'm very excited about "Minaret", "Slow Man", "Desertion", "Beasts of No Nation" and "Icarus Girl" because I have all of them on my bookshelf - just need to make time to read them! I hope some of them will find their way to the shortlist.

4:11 pm  
Blogger The Traveller said...

Ooh, interesting post I've heard good things about Icarus Girl, and the rest of the list is great for new reading inspiration.

8:50 pm  
Blogger equiano said...

lotus reads - lots of really super books in there and I'm glad to see a good range; as you have them all, you have no excuse: read up! Famous last words...

Hi traveller - I thoroughly enjoyed ICARUS GIRL, but doubt it will be in the shortlist as it is her first novel and had a few tuning issues. Worth a read though - especially if you like scary stories! Oyeyemi's next book is due out early next year and I expect good things from her.

11:55 am  

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