As the seasons change and Spring begins to arrive here in the UK, it seems a good time look forward to some forthcoming African fiction, non-fiction and poetry releases due over the next few months.
What are you looking forward to reading over the coming months? Let us know in the comments.
What happens when a young boy’s life is interrupted by war? Two young classmates, Tarnue, a boy from ‘Monrovia-poor’, and Kou, the cherished daughter of a big man in government, strike up an unlikely, yet instinctual friendship. It is 1989 in Liberia and when civil war comes, day-to-day concerns of school, parental pressure and the luxurious rewards of ice cream and new sneakers irrevocably disappear.
Liberian Saah Millimono’s debut is a moving account of a boy’s life in a time of crisis. Tarnue is at times clear-eyed and wise beyond his years, at others bewildered by the impact of national upheaval on his already challenging existence as Charles Taylor’s forces enter Liberia. Millimono’s is a brave, honest voice. With prose that is authentic and spare, this story of one boy caught up in cataclysmic events is a powerful indictment of the trauma, and the pity, of war.
Boy, Interrupted is Saah Millimono’s first novel and was 1st runner-up of the Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013.
Ivan Vladislavić’s 101 Detectives is released by Umuzi in April 2015.
A private-eye convention and a tussle over a Pierneef. A young man’s unsettling experience in the American South and a tragedy off the coast of Mauritius. A bizarre night of industrial theatre and a translator at a loss for words.
These are but a few of the fictions in 101 Detectives, a new collection of short stories by Ivan Vladislavić, one of South Africa’s most celebrated authors. A collection of short stories launched his career as a writer. Twenty-six years and a whole oeuvre later, 101 Detectives showcases Vladislavić’s virtuosity as he bends and recasts this literary form in spectacular fashion.
Beyond Touch, a poetry collection by Arja Salafranca, will be published by Modjaji Books in April.
Arja Salafranca treads warily on the icy streets of London, but returns years later to have a life-changing epiphany while rowing on the Thames. Her incisive, photographic gaze penetrates the lives of people, from an Indonesian woman in the sea to a child begging in Johannesburg. But the poetry is also personal, as it traces the slow but inevitable unwinding of a relationship. And then there’s an erotic intimacy, where love goes beyond touch.
Arja Salafranca is an award-winning poet and writer of short stories. Beyond Touch is her third collection of poems. She is the arts and lifestyle editor at The Sunday Independent and lives in Pretoria.
Fans of Nnedi Okorafor will be delighted that her next book, The Book of Phoenix, is due to be released in in May. A prequel to the highly acclaimed, World Fantasy Award-winning novel, Who Fears Death, it features the rise of another of Nnedi Okorafor’s powerful, memorable, superhuman women.
Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7. She is an “accelerated woman”—only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.
Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated by his death and Tower 7’s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape.
But Phoenix’s escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story. Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity’s future.
The English translation of Alain Mabanckou’s latest book The Lights of Pointe-Noire is due for release in May. Alain Mabanckou left Congo in 1989, at the age of twenty-two, not to return until a quarter of a century later. When at last he returns home to Pointe-Noire, a bustling port town on Congo’s south-eastern coast, he finds a country that in some ways has changed beyond recognition: the cinema where, as a child, Mabanckou gorged on glamorous American culture has become a Pentecostal temple, and his secondary school has been re-named in honour of a previously despised colonial ruler.
But many things remain unchanged, not least the swirling mythology of Congolese culture which still informs everyday life in Pointe-Noire. Mabanckou though, now a decorated French-Congolese writer and esteemed professor at UCLA, finds he can only look on as an outsider at the place where he grew up. As Mabanckou delves into his childhood, into the life of his departed mother and into the strange mix of belonging and absence that informs his return to Congo, he slowly builds a stirring exploration of the way home never leaves us, however long ago we left home.
Niq Mhlongo returns with a collection of short stories that cover the span of South Africa’s democracy – the euphoria of 1994, the Aids pandemic, xenophobia, the madness of Marikana and the Zuma presidency.
On the eve of Angolan independence, Ludo bricks herself into her apartment, where she will remain for the next thirty years. She lives off vegetables and pigeons, burns her furniture and books to stay alive and keeps herself busy by writing her story on the walls of her home.
The outside world slowly seeps into Ludo’s life through snippets on the radio, voices from next door, glimpses of a man fleeing his pursuers and a note attached to a bird’s foot. Until one day she meets Sabalu, a young boy from the street who climbs up to her terrace.