“Short Story Day Africa exists because we have something to tell the world. About us. In our own voices.”
Now in its third year, Short Story Day Africa sets aside the shortest day (or night) of the year – this year it’s June 21 – to celebrate African short story writing: the wider initiative brings writers and readers (established and not so), booksellers, publishers, teachers, and school children together, creating a range of platforms for the many voices that might tell these stories, to encourage and get them out into the world.
If this isn’t already enough in itself to love and support it…
- Short Story Day Africa are clear about their aim to widen access to a love of stories and the craft of their telling. Their Kids and Youth competitions 2013 are supported by a range of smart and thoughtfully compiled Workshop ‘packs’ (which include my personal favourite, ‘writer’s-block-busting-story-cards’), downloadable materials for any teachers or parents, or anyone wanting to run a Short Story workshop, available from the YA & KIDS dropdown on their site.
- This year, Short Story Day Africa are partnered by Worldreader – whose mission is to get around access/affordability/transportability book problems and widen the availability of digital books through new technologies and mobile phone networks – and Paperight – whose model can turn any place with an internet connection and a printer into a print-on-demand service, and so an affordable book shop – both innovative and vital enterprises in terms of access to books and stories across South Africa, Africa, and globally.
- Every day through June, as part of the Short Story Day celebrations, Short Story Day Africa puts up a story from a published writer on their website for anyone and everyone to read and download. Every story published will also go out to half a million readers via Worldreader Mobile.
Visit the READ 2013 section of the site to read wonderful stories already up from: (Adult) Byron Loker, Alex Latimer, Louis Ogbere, JT Lawrence, Tiah Beautement, and Robert Ssempande; (Young Adult) S.A. Partridge, Richard de Nooy, Pierre Brouard, and Blue Petal; (Kids) Sarah Lotz, Laura Brain, Judy Smee-Dixon, and Lauri Kobuitsile.
African writers – submit your stories.
- 3 story competitions (deadlines are not far off – check back with the Short Story Day Africa website for more details and T&Cs), with great prizes!
Spine Stories (genius fun): re-energise your bookshelf by storyfying it anew – arrange your books so that their spines tell a narrative, take a pic and send them in. Twitpic it @benrwms @shortstoryAFR with hashtags #shortstorydayafrica #spinestory. Ends 30 June. (Warning – you may want to do these ALL the time.)
The Adult short story competition theme this year is ‘Famine, Feast and Potluck’ (18 and over). The deadline is June 30.
The Youth and Kids competition theme is ‘Fairy tales, Myths & Legends Reimagined‘ (17 and under). Parents and teachers can download workshop packs from the website. Deadline July 15.
Anthologies of both the competitions’ finest are available now to pre-order.
This and more comes out of this volunteer led, tiny-teamed short story explosion – with the goodwill, love and level of support from the South African writing community and beyond, evident in the range of sponsors and contributors, testament to the incredible dynamism and energy of the initiative.
Reap the benefits of a growing community of followers of this wonderful thing on Twitter@shortstoryAFR and on Facebook Short Story Day Africa. Both are packed with information, pics and links to brilliant related material – interviews with writers and publishers, writing prompts and tips…
Who is behind Short Story Day Africa?
Rachel Zadok was raised in Johannesburg. In 2001, she escaped a career in advertising to become a writer, which she describes as being a little like running away to join the circus without the safety net. In 2005, she was a runner-up in the Richard & Judy How to Get Published Competition and her first novel, Gem Squash Tokoloshe, was published by Pan Macmillan later that year. Gem Squash Tokoloshe went on to be shortlisted for The Whitbread First Novel Award and The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and longlisted for the IMPAC award. She launched Short Story Day Africa in 2011, an initiative to highlight African fiction. Her writing has appeared in the Observer, The Jewish Chronicle, The Independent and, the 2012 Caine Prize Anthology. Rachel’s second novel, Sister-Sister (Kwela Books) was published in April 2013. She lives in Cape Town with her husband and daughter, and occasionally blogs. http://www.rachelzadok.com
Tiah Marie Beautement is the author of the novel Moons Don’t Go to Venus. Shorter works have appeared in various publications, including two anthologies: The Edge of Things and Wisdom Has a Voice. She lives on the Garden Route with her husband, two children, Orwell the dog and five chickens all named Eva.