Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2015

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The 2015 Wasafiri New Writing Prize is now open. The prize rewards outstanding work from unpublished writers in these three categories: poetry, fiction and life writing. This year’s judges are Toby Litt, Yasmin Alibhai Brown and Roger Robinson. The prize for each category is £300 and publication in Wasafiri. Entries will be accepted until 5pm, 24 July 2015.

For more information, please visit Wasafiri.

Financial Times/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Awards 2015

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Financial Times/OppenheimerFunds present the Emerging Voices Awards 2015. The award, in its inaugural year, aims to recognise extraordinary talent in the arts, including fiction, film and art.

“There is a remarkable structural shift in the world, propelled by economic progress in the developing markets and the advanced reach of the Internet. More connectivity and greater variety of voices in the business, science and arts communities are leading to a new renaissance. The Financial Times and OppenheimerFunds are delighted to provide a platform to recognise the people contributing to these markets.”

The fiction award is open to nationals or residents of emerging nations in Africa and the Middle East. Only books first published between 1 January 2014 and 30 September 2015, and having a minimum of 20,000 words, are eligible. Entries are open until 30 April 2015, and winners in each category will be announced at a special gala on 5 October 2015. Winners in each category will receive the sum of $40,000.

For more information on entry criteria, entry categories and the awards schedule, please visit the awards website.

Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun named among BBC’s 12 greatest novels of the 21st Century

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BBC Culture, in a recent poll of “several dozen” US critics, has named Chimamanda Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun among the 12 greatest novels of the 21st Century so far. Set amidst the Biafran War, Half of a Yellow Sun explores the effects of the war on the newly independent nation. According to the critic Walton Muyumba, Half of a Yellow Sun is “… a tour de force, artistically and intellectually.” Also highly ranked was Adichie’s 2013 novel, Americanah, which very narrowly missed out on a spot in the top 12.

Ranked at number one was Junot Diaz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Also among the top 12 were Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad.

To see the full list, click here.

Review of Yejide Kilanko’s ‘Daughters Who Walk This Path’ on Brittle Paper

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The world abounds with novels about violence against women. So why should you read Daughters Who Walk This Path, Kilanko’s rewrite of a motif that has inspired everyone from Shakespeare (Rape of Lucrece) to Alice Walker (The Color Purple)?

You should because Kilanko does smart and masterful things with the genre.

It’s the 1980s in Ibadan, the city of seven hills and little Morayo is as happy as a lark. Kachi, the boy she’s been crushing on has made it clear that the feelings are mutual. Her friendship with Tomi is a source of the simple joys of childhood. Eniayo, her younger albino sister is growing up to be a lovely and chirpy little girl. Dad and mom are doing well. They’ve just moved from a rented three-bedroom flat to a new two-story complex built from scratch. But this picture-perfect world comes down in a crash one unsuspecting day. Morayo’s near blissful life is abruptly and quite savagely cut short by an act of sexual violence.

To read the full review, click here.

A. Igoni Barrett Responds to Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s Essay, ‘African Books for Western Eyes’

A. Igoni Barrett, author of Love Is Power or Something Like That, in his essay titled ‘Whom Do We Write For?’ gives a thought-provoking response to Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani’s New York Times piece, ‘African Books for Western Eyes’. Please read an excerpt from Barrett’s essay below:

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I published my first book in Nigeria in 2005. It was a collection of stories edited by my father and released by his one-man company. The day the printer delivered the books was memorable: imagine my eagerness as I grasped my first-ever copy, then stared at it in disappointment: dreadfully designed, atrociously typeset, abominably printed – it is still the ugliest book I’ve ever touched.

Over the next two years I distributed the books myself; hence, I know that less than one hundred copies were sold. The left-over nine hundred were handed out to anyone who didn’t refuse the gift.

In the beginning, I was convinced I could make a living from my sales. Nigeria had a population of more than one hundred million, and so one thousand books, even ones as unattractive as mine, would sell quickly. Like many self-published authors before me, I figured wrong.

By 2007 I was disenchanted enough with DIY publishing to take up a job with a traditional publisher, where I spent the next two years learning everything about why my book had failed.

I republished the book in 2008. My father supplied the money to print one thousand copies, but it was my employer that supplied the publishing manpower, albeit unofficially.

When the printer made the delivery, I was astonished that the same book could look so different. While the first edition had never found a place on my bookshelf, this one would. Even better, it would sell. I had it all figured out; I would use my employer’s distribution network.

Lagos had a population of about twenty million, and so one thousand books, especially ones as attractive as mine, would sell quickly. I did more than hope this time: I invested in publicising the book. I pitched myself to newspapers as an interview subject; I went on a book tour; I organised monthly book readings at the largest bookstore chain in Nigeria; and, finally, I resigned my job in publishing and began writing again.

The second edition of my book sold out in 2011, three years after publication. Logistical expenses guaranteed a commercial loss, exacerbated by systemic hindrances, the most infuriating being the booksellers who cheat publishers out of their sales earnings – a common practice in Nigeria.

By this time I had realised that I wanted to be a full-time writer, not a part-time publisher or a half-hearted book promoter.

What worried me was my future as a writer in Nigeria. If I’d learned anything since 2005, it was that it was impracticable for any investor to turn a profit from selling literary fiction in a market as difficult as Nigeria. All those hardscrabble years spent as a local talent had confirmed to me that success for most writers in English – whether African or Australasian or Asian – depends on the publishing powerhouses of the West, mainly in New York and London.

I knew where to go if I wanted success.

Please click here to read the full essay. 

Kachifo Limited at Ake Arts and Book Festival

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The 2014 edition of the Ake Arts and Book Festival opens tomorrow, November 18, and will be on till Saturday, November 22. The theme of the festival  is ‘Bridges and Pathways’,  and “discussions this year will focus on building bridges between African peoples, especially along language, ethnic and gender lines, and charting new paths with the aim of creating synergy and cultural cross-fertilization on the African continent.”

Yejide Kilanko, author of Daughters Who Walk This Path, and Eghosa Imasuen, author of Fine Boys and COO of Kachifo Limited, will be at the Festival. Kilanko will be talking books with Remi Raji on Thursday and discussing ‘Representations of Africa in New Fiction’ on Friday along with a panel of other authors. Imasuen will be discussing ‘Taming Colonial Tongues’ on Friday and moderating two different discussion panels on Saturday.

Farafina books will be on sale at the festival, including our newest titles, Adewale Maja-Pearce’s brilliant memoir, The House My Father Built, debut author Elizabeth Olushola Adeolu’s thrilling crime novel, Chasing Facades, and Ellen Banda-Aaku’s heart-warming young adult/middle grade novel, Sula and Ja.

Please visit the Ake Festival website for programme details and more information.

Read Africa!