Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The announcement of the Costa (formerly Whitbread) Book Award winners today, reminds me of my previous musings over the International IMPAC/Dublin Literary Award finalists. The longlist is vast and wide ranging: something for everyone (almost too huge, in fact). My focus, naturally is to explore the titles by African writers:
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)
Who would you choose to take a closer look at? Paul Auster? Neil Gaiman? Kate Grenville? Arnaldur Indridason? Elizabeth Kostova? Haruki Murakami?

The shortlist ("up to a maximum of ten titles") will be announced in March/April, so that gives three months to read at least some of the titles. Anyone like to join me? Let's call it the IMPAC/Dublin challenge - select your own "up to a maximum of ten titles" and get cracking!

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Anonymous James said...

Giles Foden wrote a sniffy and rather self-defeating piece about the switch from Whitbread to Costa as the sponsor on one of the Guardian's legion of largely indistinguishable blogs.

Good for Rachel Zadok - I liked her book very much, and it's getting a lot of attention.

12:00 pm  
Blogger equiano said...

I think Foden's comments are a little assinine. Whitbread was selling a product too, only most people never knew what it was. So, Costa Coffee is more recognizable today as a product, so what? It is the rebranding of the name of the prize that is difficult for folks to get their heads around, not the product the company is selling. If folks cared that much about the product marketed, then the Nestle sponsored Smarties Prize would permanently be boycotted.

You've heard me wittering on about chain booksellers, but I have just as many (if not more) grievances against chain coffee shops. If we're going to talk about the social awareness of business owners (a point which Foden raises) then I have to give some credit to Costa for serving fair trade coffee in the branches long before any of the other chains did. I wish they would commit to it across their range and not just serve it as an option, but at least they do. Starbucks has come absolutely last through the posts on this issue, kicking and screaming all the way - where's the kudos and social conscience in that? He may prefer their name on his books, but I wouldn't.

6:53 pm  

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