Words from… the bedside…

(… that’s table or nightstand, not manners…)

For any book lover – your average bibliophile type – editing the “bedside table reads” listicle, at least enough for public consumption, may be revealing: how many unread books do you *really have on your list and how long have they been there? Really…

Are you a multiple dipper-inner-er, with a few on the go at once, piling up, perhaps well intentionally begun but unfinished, languishing neglected and/or patiently waiting til you’re ready to come back (as if model good friends who miss you and chats)? Is your nightstand simply a stack of books, or the equivalent ‘pile’ of e-books (yes, you too! All those ‘free samples’ that accumulate count here)?

Or, are you disciplined – one at a time, perhaps two at most, and only in exceptional circumstances, curated from a longer list, refined regularly and with careful deliberation? Maybe it’s library fines that keep you pared down… Is there one that may always be there, has always been, as some kind of aspirational or familiar and comforting marker..?

In today’s digest, our Comms team come together give an edited and composite slice from the back covers and blurbs of our current reads-for-pleasure cake (and all the rest besides the bedsides)… we, most subdued and tidy, selected just five – how many on yours?

These Bones Will Rise Againby Panashe Chigumadzi (The Indigo Press, 2018 – NON-FICTION/ESSAY). 

A permanent bedside fixture, one to return to in new contexts as Zimbabwean party-political responses continue to unfold (and that cover!). Author of the 2015 novel Sweet Medicine, Panashe Chigumadzi’s lyrical essay and intimate exploration of the interconnections of personal, family and national history is one in the Mood Indigo Essay Series, through which ‘leading international writers reflect on the pressing social and political issues of our time’.

From The Indigo Press … What are the right questions to ask when seeking out the spirit of a nation? In November, 2017, the people of Zimbabwe took to the streets in an unprecedented alliance with the military. Their goal, to restore the legacy of Chimurenga, the liberation struggle, and wrest their country back from more than 30 years of Robert Mugabe’s rule. In an essay that combines bold reportage, memoir, and critical analysis, Zimbabwean novelist and journalist Panashe Chigumadzi reflects on the “coup that was not a coup,” the telling of history and manipulation of time and the ancestral spirts of two women—her own grandmother and Mbuya Nehanda, the grandmother of the nation.

I have come to realize that the answers we need won’t come from the places we usually search. Party-political responses cannot tell you enough about my people and what has brought us to this place. In search of those answers, I must cast my eyes from the heights of the ‘Big Men’ who have created a history that does not know little people, let alone little women, except as cannon fodder (Chigumadzi, back cover).


Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (Penguin, 2019 FICTION).

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2019, this split-perspective novel is teeming with life and crackling with energy — a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood.

From Newcastle to Cornwall, from the birth of the twentieth century to the teens of the twenty-first, Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.


Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Pan McMillan, 2018 YA Fiction).

Children of Blood and Bone is Adeyemi’s debut, a young adult fantasy novel that follows heroine Zélie Adebola as she attempts to restore magic to the kingdom of Orïsha…

Zélie remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

NB: Just released – Children of Virtue and Vengeance, is “the breathtaking sequel to Tomi Adeyemi’s ground-breaking West African-inspired fantasy Children of Blood and Bone”.


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African Futures: Thinking about the Future Through Word and Image, edited by Lien Heidenreich-Seleme and Sean O’Toole (Kerber, 2016 – ART). 

As the world increasingly looks to Africa – and its future is described as both gloomy apocalyptic vision or paradise of booming investment – this review asks a series of core questions of about how artists, cultural producers and scientists view the future there. Emerging from and extending the enquiries of the multi-city African Futures festivals held in 2015 – in Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi, as well as related satellite events held in New York and São Paulo – African Futures documents the project of the Goethe-Institut South Africa, bringing together artists, cultural activists and academics to share their positions on the theme of the future, in the hope of building bridges between art, technology and intellectual discourse.

Includes contributions by Achille Mbembe, Ntone Edjabe, Jean-Pierre Bekolo, Sherif Adel, Rowan Smith, Pamela Phatsumo Sunstrum, Raimi Gabdamosi, Tegan Bristow, Jonathan Dotse, Wanuri Kahiu, Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi, Albert ‘Ibokwe’ Khoza, and Chumisa Ndakisa.


My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Doubleday, 2018; Atlantic Books, PB 2019 – FICTION)

Originally published in Nigeria, in a different form, as an e-book entitled Thicker Than Water by Qamina (Lagos, 2017), Braithwaite’s ‘short, darkly funny, hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends’ has published to wide acclaim and literary sensation…


“Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer.”

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead.

Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her.

Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite’s deliciously deadly debut is as fun as it is frightening.

What’s by your bedside..? Message us – tweet, insta, facebook or site comments – we’d love to know…

Categories: Reviews & Spotlights on..., Words from the team

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