Catching up on our monthly round-up of ‘other words’ – news on AiW’s radar, collated from across our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. This month we are covering news and events across July and August following our short holiday hiatus from our round-up wrap last month.
And this time, we have a special spotlight halfway through, on something that covered and crossed pretty much all our round-up categories… disrupting our ‘neat’ organisation (ahem…).
We also continue with our separate sister “Calls for” post as part of our “Other Words” this month, rounding up opportunities and shout-outs for contributions – see for upcoming calls, academic and creative, and crosses between.
News from our SM…
Festivals, Salons, & Conversations | Readings – Books, Journals & Mags | Performance, Visuals, Sounds | Awards & Congrats | And also on our radar…
Festivals, Salons & Conversations
Catching up on last month, the biggest book fair in East Africa, the Hargeysa International Book Fair was held, celebrating art, culture and all things literary with the featured ‘guest’ country – Ethiopa:
Join us in catching up with the safely held spaces of some of the events available on YouTube, or on Twitter via the hashtag #HIBF2021, and if you’re not already familiar, check out Bhakti Shringarpure’s earlier mention of the Fair, alongside many other African digital initiatives and happenings in her article for the LARB, ‘African Literature and Digital Culture‘ (from Jan 2021):
The credit must go to the dynamic, creative, and forward-looking thinkers on the continent itself — the young and hip creators of popular platforms such as Saraba magazine or Kwani? back in the day; journals such as Jalada, Doek!, and Lolwe; presses such as Cassava Republic and Huza; and events such as Ake Arts and Book Festival, Hargeysa International Book Fair, Afrolit Sans Frontieres, and the Gaborone Book Festival.
The Wanderers (Kwela, 2021), the latest release from Mphuthumi Ntabeni – whose first novel, The Broken River Tent, was awarded the 2019 Debut University of Johannesburg Prize for South African Writing in English (see the JRB for details) – has featured in online salons, launches and symposia from its launch in July through to late August.
Ruru’s father, Phaks, joined the anti-apartheid struggle in exile before she was born but never returned, preferring to stay in Tanzania. Years later, though he has passed away, Ruru goes in search of signs of his life in his adopted country.
She finds it in his widow and his ‘pillow books’ – journals he kept, coming to terms with his mortality.
Struck by the parallels with her teenage letters to her late mother, she reads to find answers to her questions: Who was he? Why did he not return?
Lorraine Sithole was in conversation with the author for Kwela Books on August the 24th:
And the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) held a symposium on 27th August, focusing through the “restless legs” of Ntabeni’s novel on the ways that literature thinks the violence of colonial modernity in Africa – exile and love, loss, mourning, and transgenerational relations and struggles:
To find out more about the book, read an excerpt (as it was then forthcoming), published in the JRB, or watch the digital launch at Exclusive Books on Facebook here; or see (below) the Joburgtv Lifestyle recording of Zukiswa Wanner’s ‘Artistic Encounters’ pre-launch event on YouTube, which, alongside readings of the novel and an audience Q&A, features words from Ntabeni and Wanner, and from Malcolm Jiyane, trombonist and pianist, also playing along to the text of the novel:
The much-anticipated Edinburgh Books Festival came around quick this August, with its first ever hybrid offering of both digital and in-person events! Echoing the good news for access for contributors and panelists to, and viewers of Africa focused literary events that has emerged as festival locations have made new ways online, almost all the Edinburgh Books Festival events are available to view on demand until the end of September, on a pay-what-you-can basis.
On this and accessibility to events extending to future plans, the Festival’s Director, Nick Barley, said:
“We are reimagining the Book Festival in this new climate. It will take time – the world has changed, and we need to adapt and learn from our experience this year, however we are already making plans for 2022 and from the public response to the digital programme we will definitely include an online offering as well as the live, in person experience here in Edinburgh.”
Tuck in for an evening (or two, or three) of recapped viewing! AiW’s highlights this year, included an event focused on “Reclaiming Rwanda’s Stories” with Scholastique Mukasonga and Ellah Wakatama. You can read more about it via this link.
Other select highlights – from the many more also still available until the 30th Sept at the Ed Books Fest website – included Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor with her novel The Dragonfly Sea; Iman Mersal, an internationally acclaimed Egyptian poet whose latest novel, Fee Athar Enayat Al Zayyat (In the Footsteps of Enayat Al-Zayyat pub. 2019), won the prestigious Sheikh Zayed Book Award earlier this year; Damon Galgut, discussing his Booker shortlisted novel The Promise; and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, talking about the passionate advocacy for the use of local languages in literature at the heart of his new novel in verse, The Power of Nine (translated from Gikuyu by the author).
Other events to check out (featuring some of our AiW faves) might include –
South African-Scottish writer and academic, Zöe Wicomb, in discussion about her new novel, Still Life in “Questioning South Africa’s Colonial Story”; French-Senegalese author David Diop, discussing his 2021 International Booker Prize winning novel, At Night All Blood is Black; Ghanaian writer, filmmaker and art historian Nana Oforiatta Ayim – see more at her website – with Barnaby Phillips, author of Loot: Britain and the Benin Bronzes (2021), discussing the vexed issue of cultural artefacts’ repatriation in “Returning the Loot”; and the wonderful erudition of these two intellects combined as Pumla Dineo Gqola and Jacqueline Rose discuss “The Female Fear Factory”.
And a last ICYMI in Fests, have a look at some wonderful photographs from July’s Berlin African Book Festival, curated by Angolan writer, Kalaf Epalanga, on BrittlePaper here.
The African Book Festival 2021 took place from the 16th to the 17th of July in the open-air cinema Freiluftkino Rehberge in Berlin. Renowned Angolan author and musician Kalaf Epalanga curated the event and explored the festival theme Telling the Origin Stories by focusing on questions on origin, affiliation and identity, placing Lusophone literature and the connection between music and literature at the heart of the event.
And finally in the literary salons and seminars series for this issue of the wrap, HUMA Africa brought back their #PublishingAfrica series in August, the first focusing on the question of limitations in African publishing, they spoke with Walter Bgoya, the Managing Director of Tanzanian publishing house Mkuki na Nyota.
The next in the series is coming! Sept 7:
Readings – Books, Journals & Mags
In July, the Fortunate Traveller, a website committed to publishing and promoting “nonfictional, itinerant narratives,” featured some of their favourite travel books, including the poetry book If Only the Road Could Talk by Niyi Osundare. They showed off this selection with Tade Ipadeola’s review of the volume which you can read via this link.
Also in July, Zimbabwean novelist Noviolet Bulawayo announced her new novel, Glory, to be published next March by Viking, who described it as “an exhilarating ride. A bold, vivid chorus of animal voices calls out the dangerous absurdity of contemporary global politics, and helps us see our human world more clearly.” We can’t wait to get our hands on this one!
In literary Mag news, among the releases from our faves, was the latest edition of the speculative fiction journal Omenana (who gave us their Words on the Times last month too!), featuring a very beautiful cover.
And in other journal and mags news, the Economist ran an open letter on their site, “Intellectual magazines are flourishing in Africa”, discussing “the new intellectual spaces that have opened up in Africa over the past decade, from long-form journalism to literary magazines, in an efflorescence of political commentary, criticism and fiction.”
Alongside this, The New York Times published an article, “The New Magazines and Journals Shaping Africa’s Literary Scene” which highlighted Lowle, Doek!, and other digital publications helping to amplify new voices on the continent. A flurry of conversations and threads ensued, all calling out in appreciation of the platforms which work hard to tell important stories, fiction and nonfiction.
Moving into August, the academic journal, Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies released a double issue exploring literary activism of the 21st century across the African continent, including deep dives on many of the literary initiatives that have crossed paths and reclaimed literary sites and spaces, redefining what “activism” is, can be, and looks like:
EALCS is an international peer-reviewed journal exploring Eastern African literature, culture & the arts, from and about Africa. Be sure to check the issue out here.
As part of Women in Translation month (#WITMonth – August), ArabLit put together a collection of nine vibrant, world-stitching (and un-stitching) short stories by Sudanese and South Sudanese Women:
We interrupt this AiW round-up wrap, just about right in its middle, for a new and unprecedented spotlight experiment that crosses most of our categories for July & August…
Let’s just pause to talk the ever vigorous Bakwa Magazine and the “offshoot” projects, Bakwa Books and Bakwa Cast (podcast), over the last couple of months! This year, Bakwa, founded in 2011 by Dzekashu MacViban, is celebrating “a decade of disruption”, in partnership with the University of Bristol and the Goethe Institute, with a series of events, book & mag launches, sounds, salons & seminars, and definite celebrations & congrats …
In July – we were loving these Bakwa sounds:
And celebrating the publication day for Cameroonian writer Mwalimu Johnnie Macviban’s Twilight of Crooks:
Partnering with literary academics at the University of Bristol, Bakwa’s July saw a stellar line-up on the panel on translation, publishing, accessibility, gender and feminism:
And the Editing and Translation Slams that followed:
(NB We have it on very sound authority that the recording of the event will be available on Bakwa’s YouTube soon, coinciding with the launch of a translation Wiki… we’ll update our SM as soon as we have them)
August saw the UK hybrid in-person/online launch of Bakwa’s bilingual story anthology…
Introducing a new generation of young Cameroonian writers, this bilingual anthology highlights new directions in the Cameroonian short story, as the stories move from fantasy, existentialism, afrojujuism to realism. An unusual narrator in “Spittle Royale” walks the fine line between empathy, radicalisation and primal instincts; in “Finding Jaman” a correction facility cleaner hoards objects belonging to executed inmates leading to an interesting discovery; in the eponymous title story, lovers reconnect after forty years apart, unearthing secrets that will change their lives forever.
The culmination of two workshops, one on creative writing and the other on literary translation, both followed by a mentorship period, these stories will remain with you long after you’ve finished reading them.
…and kicked off their Women in Translation events series:
In good news for accessing all of Bakwa Books’ good stuff, August also saw Bakwa welcomed in to the ABC fold:
And with this, we close our spotlight section for this month’s wrap with a fitting tribute from Open Country Mag:
And so, we return to our round-up wrap with…
Performance, Visuals, Sounds
(Aka July & August’s Podcasts and Film Fests highlights…)
2021 has been an interesting year for the AKO Caine Prize for African [short story] Writing in terms of shifts in what Doseline Kiguru has labeled its “coming of age” in a piece for AiW – with three of the five finalists’ stories being first published in online journals and mags from across the continent; the introduction of an online-only submission process this year; and with Ethiopian-American writer Meron Hadero‘s win — with her short story ‘The Street Sweep’ (published in the distinctly non-digital ZYZZYVA in 2018) — marking this year as the first time an Ethiopian writer has won since the Prize’s inception in 2000…
July’s sounds have a place for the full gamut of the AKO Caine Prize shortlisted writers’ interviews in Podcasts on Spotify via the Caine Prize website – well worth a listen for insights on practice emerging in conversations between shortlisted writers and previous winners.
And YouTube has a good gather of recordings of events here – which gives us the chance for a quick shout out for a return to one of our faves with the Cheeky Natives conversation:
@mx_mokgoroane (they/them) (with Alma-Nalisha (she/her): “We say this a lot but I am grateful to the pandemic in this sense, that we’ve been able to find community across oceans… And the internet, for all its badness, has given us this one thing where we can connect in real time with each other. And this is really exciting! Alma and I really love short stories… we also follow the AKO Caine Prize…and look, today, we have two guests who have been shortlisted for the Caine Prize.”
Our August’s sounds included a Podcast from Weaver Press with Zimbabwean sci-fi writer Tendai Huchu:
In visuals – a spotlight on two film fests through July and August:
For its 42nd edition, the Durban International Film Festival offered a programme of about 140 feature films, documentaries and short films, through July, all for free!
Sorry you missed it? Look out for the award-winning films and those you might have missed by watching all of the trailers available on the DIFF website: https://www.durbanfilmfest.com/
And see Afrofuturism: Blackness Revisualised, a free online film festival aiming to act as both an introduction and an invitation to the genre:
All the films in Afrofuturism: Blackness Revisualized will be available online on various broadcasting platforms until the end of 2021, while also broadcasting on the All Arts (US) TV channel.
Awards & Congrats
The James Currey Prize for African Literature announced the shortlist for their 2021 edition last month. Congrats to all! We are now looking forward to the announcement on 03 September. More congratulations upcoming!
Congrats to the three African writers on the 2021 Booker Prize longlist: Somali-British novelist Nadifa Mohammed for The Fortune Men, South African author Damon Galgut for The Promise and South African author Karen Jennings for An Island.
Bank Windhoek Doek Literary Awards announced their longlist of writers, poets and visual artists for its inaugural award. Congrats to all!
The shortlists were announced on 01 September – with a characteristically generous supportive tweet from Doek mag’s Rémy Ngamije:
And congrats to Egyptian-American poet Sherry Shenoda for winning the African Poetry BF‘s 2021 Sillerman Prize.
And also on our radar…
There’s just room here to say thank you all for reading, and for being here with us!
If there’s anything you’d like to see featured on the site, or if you’d like to connect up and we can help, in any way – don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our Contact Us page has all the details you need, or catch us on our SMs.
Please remember, you can check out our Calls For… roundup for August – with sections for scholarly and academic calls, as well as for creative critical ones for makers and producers – follow this link…