As we move through the changed circumstances, timelines and spaces of now, we catch up on our monthly round-up of ‘other words’ – news on AiW’s radar, collated from across our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Please be in touch with any other ways and means that AiW can best support today’s opportunities and challenges. And with continuing wishes for your health, peace, safety, and solidarity to all…
August’s top posts and pages – #PastAndPresent
The annual Edinburgh International Book Festival curated a special online edition this month. Running from 15 to 31 August, all events were free, crossing continents and time zones to stream from more than 30 countries.
We especially loved the festival’s Outriders Africa programme which featured ten African writers pairing up for trips across the continent. The Festival describes Outriders as:
“an international journey through Africa, meeting writers and communities along their way and engaging in discussions around migration, colonial legacies, inequalities and the impact of globalisation and environmental change. Each of the ten Outriders will create a new work in response to their journey which will be presented at the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2021.”
Our highlights from Outriders Africa include Tsitsi Dangarembga and Nadine Aisha Jassat’s journey across Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania, tracing the rich tradition of storytelling in their shared Zimbabwean ancestry and the voices erased within it, and Wanjiru Koinange and Donna Obaseki-Ogunnaike voyage through The Gambia and Senegal, where they seek to decode where love lies for women in modern Africa, speaking to a vast array of women across the West African region about hookup culture, how their cities inspire companionship, and whether romance really is dead.
You can browse and catch-up with the entirety of the programme of events on the Festival’s website. Make sure to follow them on social media platforms too, @edbookfest on Twitter and @edbookfest on Instagram.
August 12 to 15 saw the 3rd edition of the wonderful Abuja Literary and Arts Festival, or ALitFest, following the theme ‘The Art of Empathy’. #ALitFest20, which is from the team behind Abuja Literary Society, breached geographical barriers and preached Pan-Africanism, streaming a diverse range of events from online panels, talks, workshops, film screenings, book chats, music sessions, and even virtual yoga. With guests including Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Bisi Adjapon, Billy Kahora and Mohale Mashigo, this was not a Festival to be missed! You can follow ALitFest on social media to keep up with next year’s edition, @alitfest on Twitter and @alitfest_ on Instagram.
Books & Magazines
Margaret Busby’s tour de force anthology, New Daughters of Africa, is getting published in paperback by Myriad Editions! The book, which celebrates the work of 200 women writers of African descent, was published in 2019, and is a companion to the seminal 1992 work Daughters of Africa, bringing together African women’s voices across a wealth of genres: autobiography, memoir, letters, short stories, novels, poetry, drama, humour, journalism, essays and speeches.
Speaking to AiW last year, Busby said that the anthology is:
really just showing that there is more that you could be enjoying, that you could be learning from, that you could be reading. There are things that could open your mind, that could enlighten you that you have to seek out for yourself because it is not being offered within your formal curriculum.
To mark the UK paperback release of New Daughters of Africa, Myriad Editions promised the first 100 copies would be signed editions.
The start of the month saw the much-awaited publication of The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi, author of Freshwater and Pet. The novel follows one family’s struggle to understand Vivek, a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. The Death of Vivek Oji immediately it made it onto bestseller lists and we can’t wait to read it!
Another African sci-fi novel is being adapted for the big screen! Togo-born British-Nigerian author and physicist Femi Fadugba’s forthcoming YA novel The Upper World has been picked up for film adaptation by Netflix and will star British actor Daniel Kaluuya. The novel is set in Peckham, London, and follows Esso, a 16-year old boy at the height of personal crisis, who uncovers the ability to see into the past and future. The Upper World will be the first book in a series, and is due to be published in August 2021 by Penguin.
Performance, Visual Art & Gallery Spaces
Theatre is back! Joburg Theatre gave theatre lovers their first live performance since before lockdown, performing Dead End by Zakes Mda to a fifty-person capacity.
Dead End explores the struggles of a young South African Couple in the 1970s trying to navigate city life under Apartheid. First presented by the federated union of Black Arts association with the Amstel Playwright of the year society at the Diepkloof hall, Soweto, on 14 February 1979. You can find out more about the performance on Joburg Theatre’s website.
A new exhibition fantastically reimagining the archaeological history of Plateau State in central Nigeria opened this month in the Barbican Centre’s Curve Gallery in London. A Countervailing Theory runs until January 2021 is Toyin Ojih Odutola’s first-ever UK commission. Set within a surreal landscape, A Countervailing Theory uses pastels, charcoal and chalk to depict the tale of a fictional prehistoric civilisation, dominated by female rulers and served by male labourers. The installation is accompanied by a conceptual immersive soundscape composed by Peter Adjaye, who we had the pleasure to interview this month about his work and the exhibition. Admission is free, and you can book your place online on the Barbican’s website.
Awards & Congrats
Huge congrats are in order for Nnedi Okorafor, who can’t seem to stop winning! Two weeks after winning an Eisner Award, Okarafor won the coveted Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story or Comic for her graphic novel LaGuardia. She won the award with illustrators Tana Ford and James Devlin.
This is a second Hugo win for Okorafor, who became the first Nigerian to win the award in 2016 for her novella Binti.
LaGuardia follows African and alien immigrants living in an apartment building in Brooklyn, New York. The story begins when Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka smuggles an extraterrestrial without a passport from Nigeria through the LaGuardia International and Interstellar Airport.
In her acceptance speech, Okorafor said:
LaGuardia is a narrative about immigration, identity, belonging, love, birth, rebirth, so so much. And it’s about aliens. I’d been growing the story for about six years in my head. It was a joy to work on. And everyone on the LaGuardia team brought a powerful energy to this and I think this really comes through. What a time and such an honor for this story to win both a Hugo and an Eisner Award.
N.K. Jemisin also picked up a Hugo award for her novelette, Emergency Skin, making that her fourth win in five years. Jemisin’s Emergency Skin is part of Forward, a collection of six stories of the near and far future from out-of-this-world authors. Jemisin’s other wins were for her The Broken Earth trilogy.
And also #OnOurRadar
Books & Rhymes, the podcast which takes you on a musical journey through the works of new and classic authors, was featured in three of Apple Podcast’s recommended categories: New and Noteworthy, Book Lovers, and Top Shows.
As they say in their own words:
This is a huge achievement because the podcast is an independent show championed by an amazing community of readers, listeners, & supporters. Heartfelt thanks to guests of the podcast who have so generously shared with us their gift of books & music.
Check out the different ways to listen to and support Books & Rhymes here.
Writers Project of Ghana (WPG) continued their series of online events and talks to keep readers and writers connected with their second Literary Crossroads event of the year. On August 26, Ghanaian writer and Clinical Biologist Elizabeth-Irene Baitie was in conversation with Mabunga Kalimamukwento, Zimbabwean novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter and lawyer.
Literary Crossroads is a Goethe-Institut Ghana project bringing together African writers from the continent and from the diaspora to discuss contemporary trends and themes in literature. Their last virtual event in May featured a reading and a conversation with Nana Oforiatta Ayim and Ray Ndebi on Instagram Live, and was featured in our May wrap-up!
In Afrobeat news, Nigerian singer Burna Boy recently released his fifth studio album, Twice as Tall, and track twelve featured a very exciting (and slightly surprising!) cameo from Ghanaian literary icon, Ama Ata Aidoo. The song, ‘Monsters You Made’, tackles issues concerning the colonial perception and poor treatment of Africans, and ends with an excerpt from a brilliant 1987 interview of Aidoo, in which she decries colonial and post-colonial exploitation of the African continent by the West:
Since we met you people five hundred years ago, look at us, we have given everything. You are still taking. In exchange for that, we have got nothing, nothing, and you know it. But don’t you think that this is over now? Over where? Is it over?
You can listen to ‘Monsters You Made’ here:
Thank you all for reading, and for being here with us! If there’s anything you’d like to see featured on the site, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We look forward to it, with all wishes for your continuing safety at this time.