Sunday, November 02, 2008

I often come across small news items related to African literature/writers, or pieces that I just find interesting. On the whole, they never make it into posts, so I thought I'd start collecting them into one weekly round-up which I'll post on weekend days. This week's offering:

"Abdul-Lateef sits in the shade at the front of his shop, a glint in his eye and a week's growth of beard on his cheeks. With care, he weighs out half a dozen dried chameleons, wraps them in a twist of newspaper and passes the packet to a young woman dressed in black..." Tahir Shah describes a visit to Fes.

The latest issue of FARAFINA is out, guest edited by Laila Lalami:
I have often noticed that whenever one hears about “Africa,” whether on the news, or in music, or in arts, or in literature, the inevitable focus is always the portion of the continent that is geographically south of the Sahara desert. For instance, the “plight of Africa,” that favourite headline of European and American newspapers, usually refers to AIDS or child soldiers or foreign debt or whatever new cause hipsters find fit to embrace at the moment. When African music is written about outside of the continent, it is usually in terms of Youssou N’Dour, or Fela Kuti or Miriam Makeba. African art, as curated in places like The Metropolitan Museum in New York, means only artwork produced south of Senegal to the west and Sudan to the east. I have also noticed that those of us from the Northern parts of the continent are regularly thrust under the headings of “Arab” and “Islam,” to the exclusion of all others."
Chris Abani wins a PEN/Beyond Margins Award for his latest book SONG FOR NIGHT (Akashic) - read an extract here. "The reader is led by the voiceless protagonist who, as part of a land mine-clearing platoon, had his vocal chords cut; a move to keep these children from screaming when blown up, and thereby distracting the other minesweepers".

An interesting article on the post-apartheid novel with male protagonist, from Jane Rosenthal found here: "
...noticeably, in none of these novels is there any sort of racial sharing of the new South Africa. Apartheid persists, even in fiction it seems. How dour and dire is this?"

And more on South Africa: Shaun De Waal reviews titles on Thabo Mbeki's legacy for the country here. "
It's not a great stretch to see the arms deal, and what went wrong with it, as a key factor in the Mbeki presidency's slide into secretiveness, paranoia and denialism, not to mention its vicious attitude towards any dissent or revelations of wrongdoing".



Blogger Stefania said...

I wish I could find more African literature in my local library?
By the way, do you know about any "African" bookshop in London or any centre for African culture? There used to be one in King street, but it's closed now. :(
I'm new to the city, so I haven't discovered its jewels yet...

9:40 pm  
Blogger equiano said...

Welcome Stefania! The Africa Book Centre on King Street, Covent Garden hasn't actually closed, it has moved! To Brighton. But Brighton is not so far - 50 minutes by train from London. It is primarily a mail order business now but you can make an appointment too in advance and then go in and browse the stock.

I don't know of any other African bookshop in London, but the BBC hosts a good Africa website listing African cultural events and most of those are London based. You can sign up for their free newsletter.

Also keep an eye out for events at The Southbank Centre - in the past year they've hosted quite a large number of African poets, writers and musicians, and many of the events were free.

Hope that's helpful! London is wonderful and I hope you enjoy your time there. I'm about two hours away, but do try and make it up occasionally for events.

6:39 am  
Blogger equiano said...

Oh, and the London African Film Festival starts later this month. Lucky you - enjoy!

6:50 am  
Blogger Stefania said...

Thank you so much for the links and all the information!
I plan to visit Brighton before leaving England, so maybe I'll also ask to browse that bookshop (not sure my friends will be happy about my literary interest in Africa, they all think it's strange!).

It's hard to keep track of all the events in London, and the city is sooooo big. I actually live about 50 minutes by tube to the city centre so I can go during the weekends or when I'm not working. The London African Film Festival looks really amazing, I hope I can watch some of the movies...

7:22 pm  
Blogger equiano said...

You are very welcome, Stefania. Hope you get a chance to see some of the films - if you do, blog about them so that we know what you thought of them!

7:29 pm  

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