Earlier this month, I posted briefly about all the literary activities that were going to take place in Accra. I guess it is really time to talk about how I took part.
I didn’t attend Taiye Selasi’s first event at Taverna Tropicana on 16 July; I was at a meeting instead. But I heard it was fun, there was good music, a youngish crowd, and there were books for sale!
Selasi’s reading on 17 July was definitely a more up-market affair, taking place at Villa Monticello. I saw a couple of ambassadors and their spouses, plus various Ghanaian literary personalities were around. Entertainment journalist/blogger Ameyaw Debrah has not only coverage of the event (including some photos – including one which includes yours truly!), plus a copy of a review of the book. Definitely worth looking at. The venue was packed – maybe 100 people? and many more were turned away, which I suspect was disappointing for them. Fortunately I had bought a copy of Ghana must go while on holiday, so at least I was able to get it autographed. Those who thought they would be able to buy copies were not so lucky however, as I heard later that the books hadn’t yet been cleared from the airport! [I think I have mentioned this issue before?]
I was very lucky to hear Taiye Selasi speak at an after dinner discussion on 18 July at the Yale event, From success to significance. This was not a reading, but more or less an extended interview, giving those of us lucky enough to be present a further insight into some of her lifetime decisions – including that of becoming a writer. Very complementary to the readings of the day before!
And to top off the week, there was the African Writers Evening on 19 July at Sytris. Featured were: Nigerian writer Chibundu Onuzo and Martin Egblewogbe, with Nii Ayikwei Parkes in the chair! Onuzu gave the second of her Accra readings (the first one took place on 17 July – which of course I missed as I was attending Taiye Selasi’s reading), with excerpts from her first novel The spider king’s daughter, while Martin Egblewogbe (of Writers Project of Ghana, among others) reading from some of his unpublished short stories. Luckily I was able to buy a copy of Onuzo’s book. Although I enjoyed the event, ultimately I thought it was too short! Definitely a compliment then.
It is more than slightly belated, for a variety of reasons – including holidays 🙂 – but here are my bookish activities for the months of May and June 2013.
I completed eight books during these two months – with six male authors and two female (that’s a bit unusual for me). All except one were fiction, two with an African focus, the rest from all over the world. I did read half of the books on my Kindle – mainly because I was on holiday.
So here is a list of completed works:
- Chocolate nations – Living and dying for cocoa in West Africa, by Orla Ryan. [Fascinating story behind Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire’s main agricultural crop]
- A whispered name, by William Brodrick. [A fictional investigation of a historical incident in World War I]
- Broken glass, by Alain Mabanckou. [set in Congo Brazzaville; not the easiest of reads. Lack of full stops/periods meant this reader really had to concentrate!]
- Clea’s moon, by Edward Wright. [Thriller set in post World War II Los Angeles]
- The magicians, by Lev Grossman. [Fantasy, partly set in a magical college!]
- Canada, by Richard Ford. [Story of a family broken up when the parents rob a bank; an Accra Book Club read]
- Haiti noir, edited by Edwidge Danticat. [Crime/thriller short stories set mostly in Haiti; some of them were very spooky]
- Osama, by Lavie Tidhar. [Fantasy/alternative reality which has eerie echoes of the last fifteen years]
I did buy a lot of books during these two months. May was very busy – with visits to EPP (opposite Legon), Vidya’s, Wild Gecko (I couldn’t resist a Ghanaian cookbook on display in this gift shop), and University of Ghana, Legon, bookshop. I also bought one book from someone who went to Nigeria, and others at Yari Yari Ntoaso. June I bought books in several Barnes & Noble bookstores and also from a couple of independent bookstores. Plus I did buy a couple of novels for Accra Book Club on my Kindle.
I attended only two events during the period – the inaugural address by the new Ghana Library Association president, and the four day conference on literature by women of African descent, Yari Yari Ntoaso. The last was especially exciting, even though regrettably I couldn’t attend all the sessions.
July is already looking to be another busy month, which I will report on at another time.
This is definitely going to be a heavy literary week in Accra, and when I first realized what the schedule would be, I wondered, on Twitter, whether I should clone myself!
This is definitely going to require a bit of juggling.
It started off with Writers Project of Ghana‘s Sunday evening radio show on CitiFM… with Chibundu Onuzu and Elizabeth-Irene Baitie.
Tuesday 16 July: Taiye Selasi is doing a reading of her book, Ghana must go, at Taverna Tropicana in Nima. There will also be music, DJ Kobby Graham. Time: from 8pm. I would have liked to go but I think I might give this one a miss, as I do have to go to work the next morning. Plus I have another commitment that evening…
Wednesday 17 July: two events on the same day! Chibundu Onuzu and Emmanuel Iduma will be reading at the WEB DuBois Center in Accra, from 6pm. And, Taiye Selasi is officially doing her Ghana launch of Ghana must go at Villa Monticello at 7pm [I think I will go to this one.] I have a copy of her book, which I must start reading. If there are copies for sale, then maybe I will buy some for work?
Friday 19 July: Chibundu Onuzu and Martin Egblewogbe are doing readings, organized by Nii Ayikwei Parkes, at Sytris [I think I will go to this]. Onuzu’s book, The spider king’s daughter, is definitely on my wish list!
Thanks to fellow blogger, Creative Writing Ghana, for a composite post on some of these events.