2011 Burt Awards for African literature: Ghana ceremony

The official ceremony for the 2011 Burt Award for African literature, organized locally by Ghana Book Trust , with sponsorhip from CODE , which took place on 16 July 2012, was a bit different from most book related ceremonies that I have attended here in Accra.

Firstly, it started on time. And I was late, thinking 15 minutes past of the official start time would be OK, but it wasn’t! Too bad for me, and a big hurrah for the organizers. TG I wasn’t the latest to arrive though, and I don’t think I missed too much.

Secondly, it was pretty short and to the point. Within an hour all the speeches had been done, and it was time for some photos with the winners, or press interviews, or just networking with friends and colleagues.

Thirdly, there were no books available for sale. A disappointment actually, though I did know in advance that this was just the award ceremony itself. What further saddened me though was hearing that the books would not be published until November this year, which is definitely later than expected!

But then I shouldn’t complain; that means that there is something to look forward to!

Winners for 2011 are:

  • First prize: Mamle Wolo, for The Kaya girl
  • Second prize: Ruby Goka, for The lost royal treasure
  • Third prize: Manu Herbstein, for Akosua and Osman

All are being published locally, and 3000 copies of each title will be distributed to schools, libraries and other institutions, so they will be widely available.

Note: There was press coverage in both the Ghanaian Times and the Daily Graphic, but not a huge amount online.  See here and here.



Mid-year summary from one Accra reader

I do try to post something about my reading, and bookish activities, on a monthly basis, but I just saw
Boston Bibliophile’s mid year summary, which rather appealed to me:

Six new-to me authors:

  1. Laurence Cosse
  2. Emma Donoghue
  3. Alan Bradley
  4. Roger Smith
  5. Lauren Beukes
  6. Dan Rhodes

Six tried-and-true authors:

  1. Ama Ata Aidoo
  2. John Le Carre
  3. Paul Torday
  4. Neal Stephenson
  5. Robert Littell
  6. Tony Morrison

Six books I really liked:

  1. A novel bookstore, by Laurence Cosse
  2. Snowcrash, by Neal Stephenson
  3. Abina and the important men, by Trevor Getz & Liz Clarke
  4. Room, by Emma Donoghue
  5. Legends, by Robert Littell
  6. A reliable wife, by Robert Goolrick

Six countries I’ve visited in my reading [obviously not physically! and the actual number is much, much higher – probably hovering around twenty or so]

  1. South Africa
  2. Zambia
  3. Cote d’Ivoire
  4. Germany
  5. UK
  6. France

Six bookish events I’ve enjoyed

  1. Vice-President Mahama [of Ghana] reading from his manuscript by his official poolside, with other Ghanaian writers
  2. Launch of two books by doyenne of Ghanaian writing, Ama Ata Aidoo
  3. Nii Ayikwei Parkes [author of Tail of the blue bird] reading in Accra on a recent visit
  4. Launch of Elikem Kuenyehia’s book, Kuenyehia on entrepreneurship
  5. Launch of massive two-volume work, Reclaiming the human sciences and humanities, at Univ of Ghana Legon
  6. readings at Goethe Institut, including Ama Ata Aidoo, Kojo Laing and Taiye Selasi

Six bookish things I am looking forward to

  1. Reading VP Mahama’s newly published book, My first coup d’etat, when it is launched in Ghana
  2. Reading the Caine Prize 2012 collection, African violet, when it is published by a local publisher here in Ghana
  3. Getting, and reading copies of the 2011 Burt award winners’ books – again whenever they eventually get published here in Ghana
  4. Attending the next Ghana International Book Fair at the end of September
  5. Attending the Ghana Library Association special 50th anniversary congress in November
  6. Monthly gatherings of Accra Book Club

Vice-President John Mahama launches book in US

Not surprisingly there have been several stories about the launch of Vice-President John Mahama’s book My first coup d’etat and other true stories from the lost decades of Africa in New York.

I was privileged to hear a few months ago excerpts from the first chapter, and it sounded interesting, funny and at times poignant.  I really look forward to being able to buy and read a copy here in Ghana.

I also think it is great that a senior politician has taken the time to write.  We definitely need more of this.

Links to some of the stories:  from GhanaWeb and VibeGhana (taken from GNA).

Caine prize 2012 collection to be published in Ghana

I will not discuss the winner of the 2012 Caine Prize for African fiction, as my colleague blogger, ImageNations, has already done a good job on all the links needed.

I did read all the five shortlisted stories, and will freely admit that “Bombay’s Republic” was definitely in my top two.

I think what intrigues me even more this year is the fact that the 2012 Caine Prize anthology is not only going to be published in the UK/USA, but also in six African countries, including Ghana.  Actually I believe it had already been co-published in South Africa (with Jacana), in Nigeria (with Cassava Republic) and Kenya (Kwani?) but what with the lack of distribution of books between African countries, in the past the easiest way of getting a copy was to order either from the UK or the US!  Incidentally I have in the past emailed at least one of the above publishers and asked whether they haven’t considered some distribution of their titles here in Ghana, but no answer.  But that, as they say, is a whole other story.

Getting back to the latest Caine Prize collection: spurred on by the prospect of local availability, I thought I would follow up.  A small search – actually in a physical directory! – revealed four numbers for Sub-Saharan Publishers [sorry I couldn’t find any website], so I hoped that at least one of them would work.  And it did.

The good news:  African violet (the name of the collection) which was published by New Internationalist in the UK on 1 July 2012 and was indeed reviewed by Bookshy (a book blogger based in Nigeria) will indeed be published, and therefore available to buy here in Ghana.

The not so good news:  some of us will just have to wait six weeks or so before we get a chance to buy a local copy!

But at least it is something worth looking forward to.

June reads and buys

Because I attended so many book/information related events in June , it seemed that it was a busy month, but
not really so on the actual reading side.

I read five books – two non-fiction, and three fiction, plus one of the five had a Ghana focus.

  1. The Prof – a man remembered – the life, vision and legacy of Dr K A Busia, ed by Abena P A Busia [a collection of tributes]
  2. Ox-tales earth [a collection of short stories by UK authors]
  3. Little hands clapping, by Dan Rhodes [slightly macabre, in places, novel which was read for Accra Book Club]
  4. Typhoid Mary, by Anthony Bourdain [an interesting perspective from the renowned chef]
  5. A novel bookstore, by Laurence Cosse [very enjoyable novel about a very French bookstore; probably my favourite of the month]

I bought seven books – none in electronic format – three for work and four to be added to my TBR shelves:

  1. Kuenyehia on entrepreneurship, by Elikem Kuenyehia [for work, bought at the launch, which I mentioned earlier]
  2. Birds of Western and Central Africa, by Ber van Perlo [mainly for visitors at work, and also because I’ve been seeing several Red Bishop’s in the tall grasses on my way to and from work]
  3. Surf yellow pages 2012 [although it is also available online, sometimes a hard copy is useful – especially if the internet is down at work]
  4. In the garden of beasts, by Erik Larson [well reviewed]
  5. Perfume, by Patrick Suskind [was this mentioned at some book club meeting?]
  6. Havana Bay, by Martin Cruz Smith [I do like thrillers]

So that was it on the reading and buying side….