Upcoming literary and bookish events in Accra

The next ten days or so promises to be full of various bookish and literary events, which I am very much looking forward to.

  1. Ghana Association of Writers Book Festival (GAWBOFEST) takes place on Friday 21 September 2012 at the National Theatre, here in Accra – in theory from 08.00.  Realistically as it is a public holiday, probably from around 09.30 or so.  Lots of activities according to an advert but no real programme available online, at least as far as I can tell.  I shall go, at least briefly.
  2. 11th Ghana International Book Fair, which takes place from Monday 24th to Saturday 29th September, again at the National Theatre.  Book sales and exhibitions are of course the main part of this event, but there will be other parts, including meetings, and the formal launch of the Burt Award 2011 winning books.  For more details, see their website.  Always on my list of events to attend, and spend money at!
  3. Writers Project of Ghana monthly readings, on Wednesday 26 September, at the Goethe Institut, with Nigeria writer, Chuma Nwokolo.
  4. Accra Book Club’s monthly gathering, with a discussion of Esi Edugyan’s Half-blood blues, which I have nearly finished [having no electricity at home for nearly 48 hours definitely does not help my reading!]
  5. A biannual meeting of the Consortium of Academic & Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH) at the end of next week – good to meet fellow librarians.

So I will definitely be busy, and if I get my act together, I should actually do some posting as well!

Ghanaian scientists writing fiction

At a recent reading held at the Goethe Institut, one of the members of the audience asked Ruby Goka, author of several children’s books and some adult novels, why she as a dentist who was medically trained didn’t write in the medical field. As I remember correctly Goka replied that she wouldn’t be a good medical writer.

However, the question kind of stuck with me. Mainly because of the assumption on the part of the questionner that someone trained in medicine would not be interested in literature. Yet a does a scientific bent or interest  preclude a  humanistic one?

And it also struck me because there are other contemporary writers here in Ghana whose training, background and even profession are in the sciences. Yet they write fiction.

I mention a few:

  • Manu Herbstein, author of Ama, Brave music of a distant drum and Akosua and Osman, is an engineer by training
  • Martin Eglewogbe, author of Mr Happy and the hammer of God, and other stories , and co-founder of the Ghana Writers Project,  is a Physics lecturer
  • Elizabeth-Irene Baitie, author of The twelfth heart, as well as other books for children is a microbiologist
  • Nana Awere Damoah, author of Tales from different tails, and other books,  is a chemical engineer

I don’t feel able to take this phenomenon further, or even explain it, but I did find it interesting nonetheless.  I suppose many of us who are not science trained feel that those who are are practically in a different category from the rest of the us.  Yet their ability to “put pen to paper” rather proves that a scientific background does not mean one cannot be creative as well.

August reads, buys and events

August was a pretty good books month for me. As usual I read, I bought and attended a few bookish events. Not much blogging on these though…

I finished five books – definitely a mixed group: three fiction and two non-fiction, two with African authors and settings, one YA book and one for Accra Book Club. Four were physical copies, and one was on my Kindle.

Titles were in order of completion:

  • Nudge, by Richard Thaler & Cass R Sunstein [some parts were interesting; others a bit heavy]
  • The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot [for Accra Book Club; a really interesting non-fiction read]
  • The mystery of the haunted house, by Ruby Yayra Goka [written by a Ghanaian dentist; did win one of the Burt awards]
  • Ancestor stones, by Aminatta Forna [very moving novel/set of linked stories; thanks to KinnaReads for the strong recommendation]
  • Death comes to Pemberley, by P D James [rather light and enjoyable for this Jane Austen fan]

I think I must have been over-reacting to a feeling of restraint on the book buying side, so I kind of splurged in August. No Kindle books though, but eighteen other books, including four from Ghanaian authors [which is really great], and five cookery books!

There were three bookish events on my August calendar

  • I missed the actual launch of Martin Egblewogbe’s Mr Happy and the hammer of God, and other stories because I had another commitment, but at least I showed my face – belatedly – and met and congratulated the author, and the publisher, Nana Ayebia Clarke.
  • I also heard Ruby Goka reading at the Goethe Institut from two of her adult books, In the middle of nowhere and Disfigured, at the monthly programme organized by Writers Project of Ghana
  • And of course there was a monthly gathering of the Accra Book Club – which is always a pleasure to attend.

And finally I end on a great article about different types of readers… Do read it, and see whether any of them resonate with you. I certainly felt it did.