Busy October – events and readings

It promises to be a hectic few weeks for staff and friends of Farafina. We finally release Nigerian editions of two titles that have taken the world by storm.

Binyavanga Wainaina’s memoir, his debut book, One Day I Will Write About this Place has been named as a Book of the Festival at the 2013 edition of the Port Harcourt Book Festival which will run from 21st to the 26th of October in, you guessed it, Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Formerly known as the Garden City Literary Festival, the PHBF will be the gracious hosts to the Nigerian launch of Binyavanga’s books on Friday, the 25th of October at the Royal Banquet Hall of The Hotel Presidential. This event, which with Binyavanga and his book as its subject promises to be super, will be followed by a book signing at the Atlantic Hall.


Igoni Barrett collection of short stories has received uncommon praise from many quarters. Love is Power or Something Like That was described quite succinctly by Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer as, “Something alive, like that.” As a writer who has had a long relationship with us, we are particularly proud to be presenting the Nigerian Farafina edition of this collection of short stories at an event in Abuja. Salamander Cafe has partnered with Farafina to host Igoni at a launch event-cum-book reading in their beautiful premises at 5 Bujumbura Street, off Libreville Street, Off Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse 2 Abuja. Yes, folks, we are coming to Abuja. On the 2nd November at 2pm. Hey. It is close enough to October to count.


All these events will be preceded by a preview of sorts. As the last post advertised, Igoni and Binyavanga will read together in Lagos on the 19th of October 2013. We all expect you to be there at Quintessence’s beautiful serene new premises at Parkview Estate (it is the first compound on the right at the estate gate) off Gerrard Road Ikoyi.


So there. This is our October. We know that you, all of you, friends and family of Farafina, will be with us all of the way. Come to these events; make them a success. There must be one happening near you.

And a few more things are planned for November. There is a rumour making the rounds in the office that Kachifo and Farafina plan to launch two new imprints. Once we confirm this gist, you will be the first to know. *wink wink*


2013 Farafina Trust Literary Evening

You’re All Invited!

Seun Kuti @ a past Farafina Trust Literary Evening
Seun Kuti @ the 2011 Farafina Trust Literary Evening

To mark the end of the 2013 Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop, Farafina Trust will be holding a literary evening, which is open to the public.

As always, the literary evening presents an opportunity for writers, literary enthusiasts and lovers of the arts to mingle and interact.

Date: Friday, 16th August 2013
Time: 5 p.m.
Venue: Oriental Hotel, 3 Lekki Expressway, Victoria Island, Lagos

Everyone is invited, so please bring a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a potential friend, an enemy (it might change their lives!).

Farafina titles will be available on sale.

See you there!

On Race, Hair, and Chimamanda Adichie’s ‘Americanah’

Book Review by Blessing Omakwu

AmericanahWhen I heard Chimamanda Adichie was writing a new book that drew heavily from hair and race as themes, I was excited for two reasons: first, because the bibliophile in me lives for everything Adichie writes; and second, because race and hair are familiar territories as an ex-member of the African diaspora in America. Indeed, one of my first adult memories of America involves both hair and race. Although I was born in America, my family moved to Nigeria when I was child, and I spent all of my adolescent years there. When I returned to America for university, I found that adjusting to the culture change was not as easy as I had imagined it would be. I will never forget the puzzled look on one of my Caucasian-male friends’ face when I sat next to him in the cafeteria one day during those first few weeks. I had just gotten a weave put in my hair, and it turns out he was wondering how my hair had miraculously grown so long since the previous day. I laughed and began to mumble something about the versatility of black hair when an African American female who was sitting across from us fired, “Don’t come here with yo’ African self tryna think you black!” It was then that I first realized being American and being African, did not give me a membership card to the African-American club.

On the surface, Americanah is a riveting love story between high school sweethearts, Ifemelu and Obinze, that starts in Lagos during a time of military dictatorship. With Obinze, Ifemelu was “at ease; her skin felt as though it was her right size.” The two are separated when Ifemelu moves to America amidst ongoing university strikes in Nigeria. In America, Ifemelu becomes aware of race, falls in love with her natural hair, explores an interracial relationship and becomes a prominent blogger. Obinze, on the other hand, moves to England where he battles loneliness and struggles to make a living working under the table jobs after overstaying his visa: “[he] lived in London indeed but invisibly, his existence like an erased pencil sketch.” Eventually, the two reunite in Lagos, where Obinze has become a ‘big boy’ and Ifemelu is struggling to carve a new career after being away from home for 13 years. In the end, Ifemelu and Obinze must make a very difficult decision.  But Americanah is more than a love story: it is a social critique and a dissection of the politics of identity.

What is genius about Americanah is that almost anyone can find something to relate to in it: there is no doubt that this novel will appeal to an even broader audience than Adichie’s previous work.  However, the virtue of Americanah–its ability to cut across 3 continents and multiple subject matters–may also be its vice. The book attempts to do too much by cramming so many complex topics (race, politics, hair, class, interracial relationships, the immigrant experience, nouveau Lagos, etc) into one story line. Several of her full-length blog posts with titles like: ‘To my Fellow Non-American Blacks: In America, You Are Black, Baby’ and ‘A Michelle Obama Shout-Out Plus Hair as Race Metaphor’ are included in the book. After a while, reading the blog posts can become cumbersome (they reminded me of all the assigned reading I had to do in law school for a critical race theory class). Also, at some points in the novel, the hair angle seemed forced (for starters, why was Ifemelu getting braids to go to Nigeria aka the land of cheaper and better braids?) and proselytistic. Interestingly, religion is subtly critiqued and slightly caricatured where explored: characters are found fasting themselves to sickness and diagnosing evil spirits.

Yet, the literary quality of Americanah is preserved despite its overt political tone and near nihilism. The characters are so fully developed and believable that you might think Adichie has met your friend, relative, classmate, or hair dresser. Unlike Purple Hibiscus and some of the stories in The Thing Around Your Neck, there is no unfinished business in Americanah. One leaves the novel at least certain of its conclusion, and at best satisfied by it.

Perhaps the only questions I had after reading the novel were about Adichie herself. There are pieces of the places Adichie has been littered throughout the book, such as Nsukka, Connecticut, Maryland and Yale. In the 24 hours during which I devoured Americanah, I found myself wondering: did she draw some of the dinner table intellectual banter from conversations she and her Doctor husband have had with their friends? And most importantly: how much of Ifemelu is Chimamanda?

In 2009, I had the privilege to meet Adichie during a book signing for The Thing Around Your Neck.  Alas, I echo the gratitude I gave her then for Americanah: thank you for giving a voice to the experiences that I have always remembered but sometimes forgotten how to articulate.

Republished with the author’s permission, this review first appeared on NigeriansTalk

This independent review does not represent the opinion of FarafinaBooks

2013 Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop

Farafina Trust will be holding a creative writing workshop in Lagos, organized by award winning writer and creative director of Farafina Trust, Chimamanda Adichie, from August 6 to August 16 2013. The workshop is sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc.
The Caine Prize winning Kenyan writer, Binyavanga Wainaina, and others will co-teach the workshop alongside Adichie. The workshop will take the form of a class. Participants will be assigned a wide range of reading exercises, as well as daily writing exercises.

The aim of the workshop is to improve the craft of writers and to encourage published and unpublished writers by bringing different perspective to the art of storytelling. Participation is limited only to those who apply and are accepted.

All material must be pasted or written in the body of the e-mail. Please Do NOT include any attachments in your e-mail. Applications with attachments will be automatically disqualified.

Deadline for submission is JUNE 12, 2013. Only those accepted to the workshop will be notified by JULY 22, 2013.

Accommodation in Lagos will be provided for all accepted applicants who are able to attend for the ten-day duration of the workshop.

A literary evening of readings, open to the public, will be held at the end of the workshop on August 16, 2013.

To apply, send an e-mail to udonandu2013@gmail.com
Your e-mail subject should read ‘Workshop Application’

The body of the e-mail should contain the following:
1. Your Name
2. Your Address
3. A few sentences about yourself
4. A writing sample of between 200 and 800 words.

The sample must be either fiction or non-fiction

A Literary Hub and a Book Reading

ImageIn Nigeria, there are many places for lovers of music, wine, and other forms of entertainment to unwind but there is hardly a place for book lovers to socialize or work. Litcaf is that lounge where the music is not deafening and the lights are not dim.

Art lovers in Lagos will love the new literary hub opening this Saturday.

Litcaf, a place of books, discussions, coffee and WiFi, seeks to promote the reading culture and nurture literary talents by giving them the opportunity to work out of or gather at the hub.

The first book cafe, located on the first floor of E-Center (Ozone), Yaba, Lagos will open to the public at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 2, 2013.

At the opening ceremony, Victor Ehikhamenor and Emmanuel Iduma will read from their books, alongside other budding writers. There will be musical performances by award wining Jodie, and soul singer Bemyoda. The event will also feature spoken word performance by Obii, winner of the first Naija Poetry Slam.

Farafina books will be on sale at the event. See you there.


Art, Life and Love.

This Weekend: Author’s Talk


One of the most exciting things for a reader is getting a chance to hear authors read from their works and ask them questions about their works or their writing process. Goethe-Institut Lagos is presenting an opportunity for book lovers to have a good time at this month’s edition of Author’s Talk which holds at 2pm on Saturday, the 23rd of February, 2013 @Goethe-Institut Lagos.

Authors presenting excerpts from their books are;

1.       Chuma Nwokolo, author of Diaries of a Dead African and The Ghost of Sani Abacha. Chuma Nwokolo is well-known for his humorous works.

2.       Victor Ehikhamenor is the author of Excuse Me! the deep, funny and insightful collection of short essays.

3.       Onyinye Muomah is a writer whose works have been published in several leading newspapers and magazines.

4.       Terh Agbedeh is a journalist and poet whose works have been published in several leading newspapers and magazines.

The moderator for this event is Ugoma Adegoke of The Life House, and co-organizer is film critic and journalist, Derin Ajao.

Goethe-Institut is located at Lagos City Hall, Catholic Mission Street, opposite Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos Island, Lagos.

Farafina books will be available for sale at the event. See you there!