Jowhor Ile, author of And After Many Days, Makes the 2020 Caine Prize Shortlist

We are excited to announce that “Fisherman Stew” by Jowhor Ile, published in The Sewanee Review (2019) has been shortlisted for the 2020 Caine Prize. He is one of the three Nigerians amongst the five writers shortlisted. The Caine Prize is a £10,000 prize awarded annually for a short story by an African writer published in English.

Jowhor Ile was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers state. His debut novel, And After Many Days, won the Etisalat Prize in 2016. And After Many Days is a novel of childhood; of the delicate, complex balance of power and love between siblings and the unique ecosystem of a family. It is also a portrait of a society, as the old world gives way to a new status quo.

Jowhor has received fellowships from East Anglia University, UK and Yaddo. He also earned an MFA at Boston University, where he lectured.

Others shortlisted are Chikodili Emelumadu’s “What to do when your child brings home a Mami Wata” published in The Shadow Booth: Vol.2.; Irenosen Okojie’s “Grace Jones” published by Hachette; Rémy Ngamije’s “The Neighbourhood Watch” published in The Johannesburg Review of Books, and “How to Marry An African President” by Erica Sugo published in adda: Commonwealth Stories.

We wish the shortlisted writers the best of luck.

Dear Writer, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff  

The tweet below recently found its way to the small corner of Naija Twitter that is “Literary Twitter”. 

 

Eghosa Imasuen, author of Fine Boys, weighed in on the matter in a series of tweets which we have put together below. 

It isn’t bad advice not to argue “small details” with your editor because they are likely right. An editor is a specialised reader. Appreciate the luxury of engaging such a reader of your work, but it is what it is: a luxury. You will not be over the shoulder of readers, when the book is published, explaining in their ear why a mistake is not a mistake.  

There will always be exceptions, especially from our POV as authors from the global South. But all things considered, with an editor from your culture, no italicisation of your language’s words to protest, etc, listen to your editor. At least over the “small stuff”. 

I’ve seen both sides now, writer and editor. I’ve seen what happens to a manuscript when a writer’s reputation and skill means that editors can’t edit them anymore. I’ve seen when youth and surefootedness means the writer can’t listen even if they tried. I’m currently looking at an older version of Fine Boys. The manuscript still has notes from the copyedit. Things I fought for, small things, I see now that the editor’s suggestions worked.  

Perhaps this is about the words, “argue” and “minor details”, and if editors are better writers. Editors aren’t writers. The process is collaborative. If the manuscript has been substantively edited and is at the last copyedit, don’t sweat the small stuff. Listen. The final decision is still yours.  

 

Follow Eghosa Imasuen on Twitter @eimasuen.

Twice the Fun – See photos from #FarafinaReads in March

The authors of The Stress Test and A Pelican of The Wilderness, Mojisola Aboyade-Cole and Jacqueline Agweh, were the guests at the March edition of #FarafinaReads. The event was held in partnership with the GTBank YouRead Initiative and took place at the Herbert Macaulay Library, Yaba, which was packed to overflowing.

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Aboyade-Cole and Agweh read selected scenes from their books which led to a lively discussion with the moderator and a Q & A session with the audience. Both writers talked about their writing process and the themes of their novels.

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Aboyade-Cole shared how The Stress Test drew mostly from her 20-plus years experience in the banking industry; Agweh said her research for A Pelican of the Wilderness comprised of one-on-one interviews with people from the Niger Delta and reading informative articles on the region’s agitation

Spoken word poet, Chika Jones, and guitarist, Emmanuel Omoile, performed at the event.

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#FarafinaReads is a book reading/discussion event which showcases writers published by Kachifo Limited. Guests at previous editions include Igoni Barrett, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Adewale Maja-Pearce, among others. The next event will be announced on this blog (so, subscribe to this blog!) and our social media platforms.

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Read excerpts from the two books here and here.

 

The Stress Test – excerpt

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Here is an excerpt from The Stress Test by Mojisola Aboyade-Cole.

Enjoy.

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He took a seat beside Taramade and their thighs made contact. He noticed how swiftly Taramade moved hers away. Felix glanced at her and, for a brief moment, fought to control the uncomfortable tightness in his groin.

“You will sign my stuff, Oyinbo, before you take off,” he said.

Taramade sighed. “What do you want me to sign now, Felix?”

“Do you know what happened to your sister-in-law?” Dr. Johnson asked.

Felix listened half-heartedly as Dr. Johnson gleefully repeated the fiasco with the market women, making Taramade feel like a fool. Uninterested, Felix cut in at the first chance.

“Mummie, see what your only son has done for the bank,” he said. “This deal is from Yinusa Ahmed.” He signalled to one of the young interns who had taken a position by the door. She approached with a file and handed it over to Dr. Johnson. She went through it, clapping her hands in delight.

“Oh my son, this is a very good one. We are finally sponsoring a polo tournament. No bank has done this!” she said, signing her approval.

“Yes we are, Mummie,” he said, beaming. “Your son Felix snatched the deal away from that telecoms company. They call themselves giants, when we,the Johnsons, are colossal. I need the draft today. Yinusa will not wait.”

Felix passed the file to Taramade and collected another from his intern.

“How much are we throwing to the wind, Felix?” Taramade asked him with caution.

Felix let out a loud yawn. Taramade had become Miss Righteous. He wanted them both to work together to wrest the bank from Dr. Johnson; it was time for her to hand over the baton.

One of his own contemporaries had just been appointed MD of a bank. That guy was set for a financial transformation! And yet here he was, being queried by his brother’s wife and playing the gigolo to his stepmother for mere handouts from a bank that was rightfully his.

“Oyinbo,” he said to Taramade, “it is not about what we are giving, but what we are getting in return. When will you ever get what banking is all about?”

He had told her many times that her extreme loyalty to Dr. Johnson would backfire. Did she not know that Dr. Johnson had just purchased a private jet for her prophet, and yet he, Felix, did not have one? Dr. Johnson had enough money to create a royal kingdom. Meanwhile, he had to seek her approval to settle his hotel bills.

Felix was loyal only to himself. In his twenties, absorbed in a decadent lifestyle financed by his mother, he’d shuttled from one foreign country to another. He’d never visited Nigeria, not even for his father’s funeral. Guilt and regret were unfamiliar emotions for Felix, but they surfaced when his brother, Frank, became incapacitated.

Only then had he returned to Nigeria. It still hurt to see his brother in his current condition.

Felix had never had that much time for his mother. At first he had ignored his stepmother, not understanding her strong desire for his approval.

When he mismanaged what was left of his father’s estate, he succumbed to her entreaties for a closer relationship and she was eager to pay for it. Only later did he learn that whatever she gave him she took back a hundred times more.

But things were about to change now, leveraging on the current financial crisis was his key. Dr. Johnson had to be removed, and with Yinusa’s help and direct link to Aso Rock it was going to happen soon.

It would not be easy getting rid of his stepmother, but Felix prided himself on being a risk-taker – the bigger the transaction, the more desperate he was to corner it at any cost. Taking ownership of the bank was a transaction that would definitely turn out to be a thrilling ride.

“If only I had more EDs like Felix,” Dr. Johnson said with a proud smile. “He chases whoever money chases.”

Typical, Taramade thought. She was always on his side.

“Yes, Mummie, I do,” Felix said, his tone smug. “Now we have to sign two of these offer letters. I promised Yinusa; one is personal, one is for the company.”

“This man, Yinusa,is owing us so much, it’s as if he owns this bank,” Taramade said. “With the outstanding principal and interest, we are already looking at fifty-nine million dollars from his company. Why are we talking about more money? He should pay what he owes us.”

“What is this about, Felix?” Dr. Johnson asked, now suspicious. She recalled the meeting with the TBN governor accusing her of lacking financial discipline and integrity. All of Felix’s society friends had taken one form of loan or the other, and they were not repaying. It was always billions for gambling on shares, property or for oil and gas transactions with worthless and overvalued assets as collateral.

She had to stop trying to please him all the time.

The obsessive behaviour had to end.

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 The author of The Stress Test will be at the FarafinaReads event this March. 

 

Lesley Nneka Arimah: Book Readings in Abuja and Lagos

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This January, we’re happy to invite you to #FarafinaReads with Lesley Nneka Arimah in Abuja and Lagos. The author will be reading from her debut collection What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky . The events will also include discussions and book signings.

What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky has been described as ‘a rare combination of daring and nuance’ by The Guardian UK, and her writing style as ‘a blast of fresh air’ by Igoni Barrett, author of Blackass. The book won the Kirkus Prize in 2017 and is on the 2018 9mobile Literature Prize longlist.

Details for the reading in Abuja are below:

Date: 18th January 2018

Time: 3 p.m.

Venue: The Booksellers, Ground Floor, City Plaza, 7 Rubuka Close, off Ahmadu Bello Way, Garki II, Abuja

Moderator: Salamatu Sule

Host: Orpheus Literary Foundation

 

For Lagos click HERE to register.

Date: 20th January 2018

Time: 2 p.m

Venue: Herbert Macaulay Library, 233 Herbert Macaulay way, Sabo, Yaba

Moderator: Adebola Rayo

Supported by: GTBank YouRead

 

You can order the book on Jumia here, or at Terra Kulture, V.I. and Patabah Bookstore, Shoprite, Surulere.

6 Spoken Word Artists We Absolutely Love

There were poets long before there were printing presses, poetry is primarily oral utterance, to be said aloud, to be heard. – Knight Etheridge

A poetry performance is an experience like no other. You get to travel through the world of the poet on words that  are rich with imagery, so much that you can see, smell, feel and maybe even taste what you’re being told.

We compiled this list of those who make these magical experiences happen, and with lyrical voices too!

Here they are:

Thuli Zuma
Thuli Zuma is an actor by training and poet by passion, Thuli, who is from South Africa, has shared her work and heart on stage and screen alike both nationally and internationally, from Johannesburg to Paris, the glowing city of lights.

Thuli was placed second at the 2012 Individual World Poetry Slam, represented New York at the 2013 National Poetry Slam, and represented the United States of America at the 2013 World Cup of Poetry Slam in Paris. She is the 2013 Urbana New York Grand Slam Champion.

Lebobang Mashile
Lebogang Mashile is a South African actor, writer and performance poet. Lebo Mashile has won the 2006 Pan African book prize, the Noma Award, for her first published collection of poems. Mashile regards  poetry’s expressive powers as the most effective tool to bring about those changes that are needed in the aftermath of socio-political changes in South Africa.

Her lyrical and gutsy poems in the collection “A Ribbon of Rhythm” (2005) also speak about life in the new South Africa. Issues such as the diversity and unity of the “Rainbow Nation”, the status of women, violence and the fragility of individuals are all treated with a sense of urgency, humour and at times with melancholy and a certain rawness.

Mashile has performed in Bern, Switzerland at the Schlacthaus Festival of South African Contemporary Art and attended Yarri Yarri Phambari Writers Conference in New York City with African American writers such as Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Maryse Conde, Nawal el Saadawi and Patricia McFadden.

Shailja Patel

Shailja Patel is an internationally acclaimed Kenyan poet, playwright, theatre artist, and political activist. CNN has characterized Patel as an artist “who exemplifies globalization as a people-centered phenomenon of migration and exchange.”

Patel is best known for her book Migritude, based on the 90-minute spoken-word theatre show with the same name. The name of the play is a term Patel coined herself. Derived from the words “migrant,” “attitude” and “negritude,” it refers to, in Patel’s words, “a generation of migrants who don’t feel the need to be silent to protect themselves.”

Titilope Sonuga

Titilope Sonuga has, no doubt, won many hearts with her lyrical dance with words. It is therefore no surprise to find her listed in many articles on top African Spoken Word performers.

She has won awards such as the Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award in 2011, as well as the 2012 Maya Mangelou Poetry Contest. In May 2015 she became the first poet to appear at a Nigerian presidential inauguration, after which she published a poetry collection in 2016. Sonuga has performed regularly at the Lagos International Poetry Festival and is a brand ambassador for Intel Nigeria.

Probably the most indelible of her recent achievements is Open, a 3-part spoken word performance series she organised at 3 different locations in Lagos this year.

Koleka Putuma

Maybe the most memorable thing about Koleka is her record of selling 2000 copies of her debut collection of poems, Collective Amnesia, in less than 5 months. Her poetry collection has been prescribed for study at tertiary level in South African Universities.

Her awards include: Winner of the 2014 National Poetry Slam Championship and the 2016 PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize. She has also been named One of Africa’s top 10 poets by Badilisha, and named one of the young pioneers who took South Africa by storm in 2015 by The Sunday Times and one of 12 future shapers by Marie Claire SA.

Dike Chukwumerije

Dike Chukwumerije is a writer, author, and Performance Poet. He is the Creative Director of the Night of the Spoken Word (NSW)Performance Poetry Show. He is also the host of the Abuja Literary Society (ALS) Book Jam and Poetry Slam, as well as an event anchor for the Enugu Literary Society (EnLS) Open Mic. His videos can be seen on YouTube.

Truth be told, 2017 was a good year for these artists, and we can’t wait to see what 2018 holds for them.

Or is it just us?

 

Wet Hair by Eghosa Imasuen

“That is not dead, which can eternal lie.
Yet with strange eons, even death may die”
HP Lovecraft.


Why do you turn away from me, Papa?

Why do you ignore me? This is not like before. This is not my melancholia, not more evidence of my unhappiness.

Listen to me, Papa. Let me tell you what happened.

I ran through the bush. I ran till I felt my heart burst inside my chest.And I ran some more. My torn wrapper felt wet beneath the white shirt. Branches – canes and flogging sticks not yet plucked from the mangrove saplings – left bright wheals on my face and my arms, slapping me as I ran away from him.

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