Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sadly, Miriam Makeba has died. I will always remember her for her role in the fantastic musical KING KONG (very difficult to get hold of these days). Watch her perform the extraordinary When I've Passed On here and the more well-known Pata Pata here. What a voice!

An online reading and discussion of Doris Lessing's THE GOLDEN NOTEBOOK starts next week. Nigerian British writer Helen Oyeyemi is one of the official readers (Thanks to Danielle and Kimbofo for drawing my attention to this).

The London African Film Festival starts in a couple of weeks; I am so jealous of those of you who live in the capital!

This year's longlist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction has been announced. Unfortunately, their website hasn't been updated with this information yet, but the full list is available on The Book Depository website. It is wonderful to see a serious prize like this develop (this is only in its second year) precisely because it raises the profile of arabic writers in the English speaking world. Unfortunately, much of the work is not available in English yet, and I'm ashamed to say that the only writer's name I recognize is Ibrahim Al-Koni. The Libyan author has produced an astonishing number of titles, yet very few are available in translation, which seems unfortunate. The American University in Cairo Press translates quite a few Arabic language titles each year, if you are interested.

"...Congo's crisis is not unprecedented, nor is it unrivalled. To people who know the continent, there's something of an arbitrary quality as to how one crisis seizes the public imagination and others go ignored." The excellent journalist and writer Michela Wrong pens a short piece for The Guardian/Observer (thanks to The Scarlett Lion for the link). Personally, I would have preferred a much longer piece - Wrong is a thoughtful and thought provoking writer with great integrity. She has a new book out next year on Kenya, which I look forward to immensely. It is currently listed on Amazon as It's Our Turn to Eat: How One Man Broke Tribal Ranks to Fight Government Greed in Kenya although whether this will be the final title, who knows.

"Bile did not grow up dreaming of being a pirate. He comes from a family of fishermen whose livelihood was destroyed, he says, by the arrival of industrial trawlers from Europe." An alternative view of piracy in the Gulf of Aden by Daniel Howden in The Independent on Friday.


Blogger Danielle said...

I really like looking at those prize lists and discovering new authors. I had planned on reading more fiction in translation this year, but I think I've actually read less than in prior years. And I think more books do need to be translated into English!

10:32 pm  
Anonymous David said...

With no disrespect intended, I have to say that collapsing after a smoking hot performance has to be the top way for any muso to go out. So long Mama Africa!

I have been hoarding multiple copies of King Kong on vinyl. It's rare but not impossible to find; expect to pay between £10-50 for it depending on condition - although the price for any of her early recordings is now likely to go up.

I also have some of her live stuff with Harry Belafonte. My oath I'm a geek.

3:38 am  
Blogger equiano said...

Danielle, they are a great way of highlighting "unknown" writers, aren't they? I'm always grateful for translated fiction, but must say that I always feel somewhat at a disadvantage as a reader of translated fiction. When I read books in Afrikaans, the one language other than English I can read fluently enough in, I am usually appalled or uninspired by the English translations. This does not bode well for all the other languages!

David, perhaps it is time for me to search out one of those LPs - we do have a record player! I completely agree about the occasion of Makeba's leavetaking - who wouldn't want to die doing what you loved and valued most: what a way to go!

8:04 pm  

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