19 year old Nigerian girl wins publishing deal

Hey all! Sure you are getting ready for the independence weekend! We have pasted an interesting article about a nineteen year old Nigerian girl who has been signed on by British publisher, Faber. Enjoy!

   

Young writers start new chapter in Nigeria’s literary history

A 19-year-old Nigerian undergraduate student has signed a two-novel

Chibundu Onuzu

deal with the British publisher Faber, making her its youngest ever woman author.

Chibundu Onuzo, a history student at King’s College London, will have her first novel, “The Spider King’s Daughter,” published next year.

“I wrote the book in my last year at school,” Onuzo told CNN. “I’ve been writing since I was 10, but this was the first novel I finished, so it was very liberating to be able to write ‘The End.'”

Onuzo, who moved to England to go to school five years ago, found an agent before she had even finished writing, and sealed the book deal on her first meeting with a publisher.

Her editor at Faber, Sarah Savitt, describes Onuzo as a “very talented writer at the beginning of an exciting writing career.”

Onuzo is the latest of a new generation of talented young Nigerian writers — many of them female — who have made their mark in the literary world in the past few years.

They include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who won the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction for “Half of A Yellow Sun;” and Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, published her first novel, “I Do Not Come To You By Chance,” last year, which has also garnered several awards, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize.

Nigeria has a rich literary tradition spanning the 50 years since its independence, including one Nobel Prize for Literature, one Man Booker Prize winner, one Man Booker International Prize, one Orange Prize winner, and three winners of the Caine Prize for African Writing, which is often described as the “African Booker.”

It is an impressive haul, even for Africa’s most populous country with a population of 150 million, but according to those in the know, it is just the beginning.

Publishers and writers say there is an explosion of young Nigerian writers about to gain even more international recognition.

Jeremy Weate, a British man who set up Cassava Republic publishing company in Abuja in 2007 with his Nigerian wife Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, said: “This is a very exciting time and the best of Nigerian writing is still ahead.

“There is some awareness overseas of Nigerian authors and an increasing number of Nigerians winning awards, but we believe this is just the beginning.

“There is still a huge amount of undiscovered and up-and-coming talent in Nigeria.”

Continue reading here.

CelebrityRead Africa

Again, the stage is set!…the Independence edition of CelebrityRead Africa is ready to fly…come the 25th of September 2010 @ Terra Kulture, Plot 1376, Tiamiyu Savage, VI, Lagos. 3.00PM – 6.00PM. Come watch your favorite celebs read from their favorite literature/book! And get the chance to chitchat with them.

Celebrities reading: Denrele Edun, Yinka Davies, Dr. Chris Nwaokobia and Dipp.

Live musical performances by Veronny SistaSoul, HarrySong and Da Afrikaans.

Poetry Performances by Chiedu Ifeozo, Rez Da Poet and Chinelo Onwubuya

Visit www.celebrityread.com for more insights.

Short story from Chimamanda

Hey all, I’m sure you have heard so much about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Well, some of you have been wondering what she’s been up to. We’ve pasted below her short story, Birdsong which appeared in The New Yorker. Enjoy!

Birdsong

The woman, a stranger, was looking at me. In the glare of the hot afternoon, in the swirl of motorcycles and hawkers, she was looking down at me from the back seat of her jeep. Her stare was too direct, not sufficiently vacant. She was not merely resting her eyes on the car next to hers, as people often do in Lagos traffic; she was looking at me. At first, I glanced away, but then I stared back, at the haughty silkiness of the weave that fell to her shoulders in loose curls, the kind of extension called Brazilian Hair and paid for in dollars at Victoria Island hair salons; at her fair skin, which had the plastic sheen that comes from expensive creams; and at her hand, forefinger bejewelled, which she raised to wave a magazine hawker away, with the ease of a person used to waving people away. She was beautiful, or perhaps she was just so unusual-looking, with wide-set eyes sunk deep in her face, that “beautiful” was the easiest way of describing her. She was the kind of woman I imagined my lover’s wife was, a woman for whom things were done.

My lover. It sounds a little melodramatic, but I never knew how to refer to him. “Boyfriend” seemed wrong for an urbane man of forty-five who carefully slipped off his wedding ring before he touched me. Chikwado called him “your man,” with a faintly sneering smile, as though we were both in on the joke: he was not, of course, mine. “Ah, you are always rushing to leave because of this your man,” she would say, leaning back in her chair and smacking her head with her hand, over and over. Her scalp was itchy beneath her weave, and this was the only way she could come close to scratching it. “Have fun oh, as long as your spirit accepts it, but as for me, I cannot spread my legs for a married man.” She said this often, with a clear-eyed moral superiority, as I packed my files and shut down my computer for the day.

We were friends out of necessity, because we had both graduated from Enugu Campus and ended up working for Celnet Telecom, in Lagos, as the only females in the community-relations unit. Otherwise, we would not have been friends. I was irritated by how full of simplified certainties she was, and I knew that she thought I behaved like an irresponsible, vaguely foreign teen-ager: wearing my hair in a natural low-cut, smoking cigarettes right in front of the building, where everyone could see, and refusing to join in the prayer sessions our boss led after Monday meetings. I would not have told her about my lover—I did not tell her about my personal life—but she was there when he first walked into our office, a lean, dark man with a purple tie and a moneyed manner. He was full of the glossy self-regard of men who shrugged off their importance in a way that only emphasized it. Our boss shook his hand with both hands and said, “Welcome, sir, it is good to see you, sir, how are you doing, sir, please come and sit down, sir.” Chikwado was there when he looked at me and I looked at him and then he smiled, of all things, a warm, open smile. She heard when he said to our boss, “My family lives in America,” a little too loudly, for my benefit, with that generic foreign accent of the worldly Nigerian, which, I would discover later, disappeared when he became truly animated about something. She saw him walk over and give me his business card. She was there, a few days later, when his driver came to deliver a gift bag. Because she had seen, and because I was swamped with emotions that I could not name for a man I knew was wrong for me, I showed her the perfume and the card that said, “I am thinking of you.”

“Na wa! Look at how your eyes are shining because of a married man. You need deliverance prayers,” Chikwado said, half joking. She went to night-vigil services often, at different churches, but all with the theme Finding Your God-Given Mate; she would come to work the next morning sleepy, the whites of her eyes flecked with red, but already planning to attend another service. She was thirty-two and tottering under the weight of her desire: to settle down. It was all she talked about. It was all our female co-workers talked about when we had lunch at the cafeteria. Yewande is wasting her time with that man—he is not ready to settle down. Please ask him oh, if he does not see marriage in the future then you better look elsewhere; nobody is getting any younger. Ekaete is lucky, just six months and she is already engaged. While they talked, I would look out the window, high up above Lagos, at the acres of rusted roofs, at the rise and fall of hope in this city full of tarnished angels.

Even my lover spoke of this desire. “You’ll want to settle down soon,” he said. “I just want you to know I’m not going to stand in your way.” We were naked in bed; it was our first time. A feather from the pillow was stuck in his hair, and I had just picked it out and showed it to him. I could not believe, in the aftermath of what had just happened, both of us still flush from each other’s warmth, how easily the words rolled out of his mouth. “I’m not like other men, who think they can dominate your life and not let you move forward,” he continued, propping himself up on his elbow to look at me. He was telling me that he played the game better than others, while I had not yet conceived of the game itself. From the moment I met him, I had had the sensation of possibility, but for him the path was already closed, had indeed never been open; there was no room for things to sweep in and disrupt.

“You’re very thoughtful,” I said, with the kind of overdone mockery that masks damage. He nodded, as though he agreed with me. I pulled the covers up to my chin. I should have got dressed, gone back to my flat in Surulere, and deleted his number from my phone. But I stayed. I stayed for thirteen months and eight days, mostly in his house in Victoria Island—a faded-white house, with its quiet grandeur and airy spaces, which was built during British colonial rule and sat in a compound full of fruit trees, the enclosing wall wreathed in creeping bougainvillea. He had told me he was taking me to a Lebanese friend’s guesthouse, where he was staying while his home in Ikoyi was being refurbished. When I stepped out of the car, I felt as though I had stumbled into a secret garden. A dense mass of periwinkles, white and pink, bordered the walkway to the house. The air was clean here, even fragrant, and there was something about it all that made me think of renewal. He was watching me; I could sense how much he wanted me to like it.

“This is your house, isn’t it?” I said. “It doesn’t belong to your Lebanese friend.”

He moved closer to me, surprised. “Please don’t misunderstand. I was going to tell you. I just didn’t want you to think it was some kind of . . .” He paused and took my hand. “I know what other men do, and I am not like that. I don’t bring women here. I bought it last year to knock it down and build an apartment block, but it was so beautiful. My friends think I’m mad for keeping it. You know nobody respects old things in this country. I work from here most days now, instead of going to my office.”

We were standing by sliding glass doors that led to a veranda, over which a large flame tree spread its branches. Wilted red flowers had fallen on the cane chairs. “I like to sit there and watch birds,” he said, pointing.

He liked birds. Birds had always been just birds to me, but with him I became someone else: I became a person who liked birds. The following Sunday morning, on our first weekend together, as we passed sections of Next to each other in the quiet of that veranda, he looked up at the sky and said, “There’s a magpie. They like shiny things.” I imagined putting his wedding ring on the cane table so that the bird would swoop down and carry it away forever.

“I knew you were different!” he said, thrilled, when he noticed that I read the business and sports sections, as though my being different reflected his good taste. And so we talked eagerly about newspapers, and about the newscasts on AIT and CNN, marvelling at how similar our opinions were. We never discussed my staying. It was not safe to drive back to Surulere late, and he kept saying, “Why don’t you bring your things tomorrow so you can go to work from here?” until most of my clothes were in the wardrobe and my moisturizers were on the bathroom ledge. He left me money on the table, in brown envelopes on which he wrote “For your fuel,” as if I could possibly spend fifty thousand naira on petrol. Sometimes, he asked if I needed privacy to change, as if he had not seen me naked many times.

We did not talk about his wife or his children or my personal life or when I would want to settle down so that he could avoid standing in my way. Perhaps it was all the things we left unsaid that made me watch him. His skin was so dark that I teased him about being from Gambia; if he were a woman, I told him, he would never find a face powder that matched his tone. I watched as he carefully unwrapped scented moist tissues to clean his glasses, or cut the chicken on his plate, or tied his towel round his waist in a knot that seemed too elaborate for a mere towel, just below the embossed scar by his navel. I memorized him, because I did not know him. He was courtly, his life lived in well-oiled sequences, his cufflinks always tasteful.

His three cell phones rang often; I knew when it was his wife, because he would go to the toilet or out to the veranda, and I knew when it was a government official, because he would say afterward, “Why won’t these governors leave somebody alone?” But it was clear that he liked the governors’ calls, and the restaurant manager who came to our table to say, “We are so happy to see you, sah.” He searched the Sunday-magazine pullouts for pictures of himself, and when he found one he said in a mildly complaining tone, “Look at this, why should they turn businessmen into celebrities?” Yet he would not wear the same suit to two events because of the newspaper photographers. He had a glowing ego, like a globe, round and large and in constant need of polishing. He did things for people. He gave them money, introduced them to contacts, helped their relatives get jobs, and when the gratitude and praise came—he showed me text messages thanking him; I remember one that read “History will immortalize you as a great man”—his eyes would glaze over, and I could almost hear him purr.

One day he told me, while we were watching two kingfishers do a mating dance on a guava tree, that most birds did not have penises. I had never thought about the penises of birds.

“My mother had chickens in the yard when I was growing up, and I used to watch them mating,” I said.

“Of course they mate, but not with penises,” he said. “Did you ever see a cock with a dick?”

I laughed, and he, only just realizing the joke, laughed, too. It became our endearment. “Cock with a dick,” I would whisper, hugging him in greeting, and we would burst out laughing. He sent me texts signed “CwithaD.” And each time I turned off the potholed road in Victoria Island and into that compound full of birdsong I felt as though I were home.

Continue reading here.

*Farafina published three titles; Purple Hibiscus, Half Of A Yellow Sun and The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda.

*

Yet another African sci-fi writer!

Hey, all! How did the holiday go? Hope you had a good time! Well, so much has been said about the genre of science/fantasy fiction in Africa. While some say the genre cannot thrive in Africa, others opine that African writing should be art for life’s sake and nothing more (we posted an article about that sometime ago).

Some awards do not even recognise the genre – science fiction entries were disallowed in Penguin Prize Awards. Well, in the midst of all these, Nnedi Okorafor wrote Zahrah the Windseeker. Of course, it was criticised but more importantly, it won the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature.

Today, although a sizeable number of authors – Tchidi Chikere’s novella, Daughter of the Cave comes to mind –  have ventured into fantasy/science fiction(where imagination rules supreme!); many still shy away from the genre. Therefore, it is refreshing when a new kid appears on the block. In this interview with Myne Whitman, Tope Apoola, whose first full length novel, Times of the Supermen, has just been published, shares his experience on writing science fiction. Enjoy!

Please introduce yourself
My name is Tope Apoola, born June 1984 to civil servant parents, Mr.&Mrs. Moses Apoola in Akure. I am last in the family. I was educated mostly in the same place except for the university where I had to move a few more than a hundred kilometres away from home. Times of the supermen is my first full length novel.

Tell us about the book
That is one question I can only hope to answer satisfactorily, the reason being that there is more than one side to the story, different things to stick to and different interpretations.

The book is about a freaky scientist who discovers the use of a symbolic formation that was found on an earthly rock, said to be identical to the one earlier found on the Martian surface. The world is bemused as it is to be established that super-civilized extraterrestrials existed even in the times that was known to be prebiological. The man is being invited to promote his science in Lagos by the ambitious and adventurous Nigerian President mostly because many people, including Olabode, the narrator’s uncle, have plausibly reported to have dreamt about the prehistoric times.

Being the Alternative history Science fiction that it is Times of the supermen hypothesizes the origin of existence, hence the rationale behind the realities that we experience from time to time. Through the lives of the characters, such as Sola Aderomoke, a young, attractive TV presenter girl who worked inadvertently for an esoteric anti-religion group, and Chekhov, a lonely scientist who warned the world against the devices of those unknown beings who were said to have visited the earth even in pre-adamic times, we see how an aged conspiracy by an ancient otherworldly civilization is being played out.

I would have to remind readers that this is only a work of fiction, as some might easily be led into believing that it is not meant to be one but this is not to say that a good round of investigative study did not go into the conceptualization of the story.

To continue reading here.

A Word for Upcoming Writers

Do you dream of being a writer? Do you love to become internationally acclaimed like Helon Habila, Chimamanda Adichie and others but you are not so sure right now because you have been rejected by established writers and publishers alike? Well, read this article in Daily Monitor by Kamau Mutunga ; it’s about Chimamanda’s initial rejection by publishers. Hope it inspires you to hold on to your dream!



Africa’s best literary flower

What a good turn of events that, today, the literary daughter of Chinua Achebe is an award-winning novelist, an accomplished author whom Achebe lauds as ‘a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers… she came almost fully made’!

Sample this paragraph from Purple Hibiscus, her debut effort in 2003: “He looked like a stuffed doll, and because he was always smiling, the deep dimples in his pillowy cheeks looked like permanent fixtures, as though someone had sunk a stick into his cheeks.”

When she first presented the manuscript, one American agent piped: “I like your book. I like your writing, but I can’t sell you as ethnic, because right now, ethnic is Indian.”

Another told her that she should set Purple Hibiscus — the story of the painful awakening of a girl coming of age — in America and relegate the African bits into the background.

Not bothered
In an interview with Insight Africa on CNN in September last year, Adichie recalled how another Western literary agent said her book didn’t feel “authentically African” as the characters drove cars and watched TV. “They are not eating human flesh and jumping around a fire, it can’t be the real Africa.”

Nonetheless, Purple Hibiscus went on to be short-listed for the Orange and Man Booker prizes, and won the 33-year-old alumni of Drexel and Eastern Connecticut State Universities, the Common Wealth Writers Prize.

Continue reading

A Review Of ‘The Architecture of Demas Nwoko’

 

Demas Nwoko is a respected Nigerian artist, architect and master builder in Nigeria. Born in 1935, Nwoko’s works fuse modern techniques in architecture and stage design with African tradition. With works like The Dominican Institute, Ibadan and The Akenzua Cultural Center, Benin to his credit, Demas Nwoko is one ‘artist-architect’ who believes in celebrating the African tradition in his works. 

In 2007, Farafina published The Architecture of Demas Nwoko, a study of Nwoko’s work and theories. We have pasted below a review of The Architecture of Demas Nwoko in the African Book Publishing Record. Enjoy!

Architecture

John Godwin and Gillian Hopwood

The Architecture of Demas Nwoko.

Lagos: Farafina, 2007.

 

 

This is a beautiful work demonstrating and analyzing the

contributions of Demas Nwoko, the Nigerian architect,

artist, poet and all-around person of letters. Indeed, many

books could be written discussing Nwoko’s work in a

number of artistic fields. John Godwin and Gillian Hopwood

do touch on a number of these fields and Nwoko’s

contributions to them. However, they are architects and quite

rightly they concentrate on architecture. Having spent some

time in Ibadan at the Dominican Institute, one of Nwoko’s

masterpieces, I can appreciate their enthusiasm for his work.

In fact, the Dominican Institute was his first major

architectural project. He asked the Dominicans if he could

assist them in their new building. The Dominican fathers,

whom I know well, were eager to incorporate African motifs

in their new buildings in Ibadan. Nwoko’s designs perfectly

fit their needs. Nwoko’s studies in Zaria and Paris had

prepared him well for his plan of combining African art with

modern ideas of European art. He began designing for

University of Ibadan theatrical productions. It was his new

ideas, which led to his work with the Dominicans and that

success led to his subsequent works throughout Nigeria,

including the Benin Theater. The Benin Theater uses

Japanese and Greek designs in an African setting. I would

be remiss if I did not mention his cultural centre in Ibadan

and the sceptre he designed for his brother’s coronation.

His brother is the Obi of Idumoje Ugboko.

In addition to his architecture Nwoko has many other

accomplishments in the arts. He co-published New Culture,

a leading arts magazine, pointing the way toward new

movements in African art. He led the way toward a modern

mode of expression in African art, theater, painting, and

architecture. In addition, he is a fine actor, having performed

in numerous plays in Ibadan. He also is a distinguished

professor in Ibadan.

Godwin and Hopwood manage to capture all of these

facets of Nwoko’s career while keeping the focus on his

architecture. Nwoko belongs to that generation of artists,

along with Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka, who fought

for Nigerian independence artistically as well as politically.

This book has been produced to an exceptionally high

quality, with plentiful photographs. The Architecture of

Demas Nwoko is recommended for all architecture and

African Studies collections.

 

Frank Salamone

Iona College

 

 

 

 

 

Farafina Book Sales @ The HUB

Hey, all! What better way to enjoy a long weekend than to obtain Farafina books at amazing discounts! Unbelievable, right?! From Friday, the 10th to Sunday, the 12th, Farafina Books would be at the HUB, Palms Shopping Mall, Lekki selling your favourite Farafina titles at up to 50% off! Also, there would be a lucky dip so not only do you get a discount, you could also win a free book! Still sounds incredible?!

Well, check this out! 

JUNE 12:N500(save N300)

Zahrah the Windseeker:N500(N500 off)

Everything good will come:N500(N300 off)

Becoming Abigail:N500(N500 off)

Burma Boy:N500(N700 off)

and much more! So, why don’t you join us this weekend?!