August and September book-related activities

I haven’t talked about my reading, book buying, or bookish events for a while, so rather than wait till the end of this month, I will look back on August and September, which weren’t horribly busy.

During these two months, I completed nine books – two fiction (only!) and seven non-fiction – the proportions being quite unusual for me, as I tend usually to read more fiction than non-fiction. Three books had a Ghana focus, four were on Africa/by African writers, and two were by non-Africans and neither on Ghana or Africa.

I bought eight physical books – including two cookbooks – plus four e-books.

So, to the books I completed:

  • Snowdrops, by A D Miller (a thriller set in a wintry Moscow; nothing is really what it seems)
  • Gulp, by Mary Roach (an entertaining non-fiction book on the gut)
  • The boy who harnessed the wind, by William Kamkwamba and Brian Mealer (very inspiring book book about a young Malawian inventor)
  • Bright lights, no city, by Max Alexander (story of Burro, a social enterprise in Ghana)
  • Interventions: a life in war and peace, by Kofi Annan with Nader Mousavizadeh (entertaining and illuminating autobiography by the former UN Secretary-General)
  • Birds of our land, by Virginia W Dike (children’s guide to bird of southern Nigeria)
  • Lose your mother, by Saidiya Hartman (aspects of the slave trade and its heritage, with emphasis in Ghana)
  • There was a country – A personal history of Biafra, by Chinua Achebe (a very personal view of some of the events of the Biafran war)
  • No time like the present, by Nadine Gordimer (read for Accra Book Club; on contemporary South Africa)

As for bookish events, I missed a couple of the August events – a reading by Nii Ayikwei Parkes and the launch of Boakyewaa Glover’s latest book – due to car issues.  Needless to say, I was not pleased.

There was a gathering of the Accra Book Club, the first for a while, due to the “summer”/vacation period. Those of us who had read The 100 year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared (by Jonas Jonasson) found it very entertaining, and a good read. Only a couple of us had read Canada, by Richard Ford, so there wasn’t much of a discussion on that novel.

I also attended Nigerian writer Sefi Atta’s reading at the Goethe Institut at the end of September, part of the Ghana Voices series organized by the Writers Project of Ghana.

And also at the end of September, I took part in the launch of the 5th edition of NAWA (North American Women’s Association)’s guide to living in Accra, No Worries. Interestingly I actually have all five editions! 5 editions of No Worries

“Ghana must go” – two different covers

US cover

US cover

UK cover

UK cover

I’ve always been intrigued by articles/posts demonstrating just how differently books are marketed in the US and the UK.  Usually this happens by posting the different book covers/jackets, and usually selecting the one which the author feels is most appropriate to the content of the book.

During the last few months this has happened to me with Ghanaian/Nigerian/Afropolitan author Taiye Selasi’s first book, Ghana must go.

Although I knew that she would be in Accra in July for the Ghana launch of her book, I have to admit to a little trepidation regarding whether there would be copies of her books available at any of the local occasions where she was going to read and talk.  And not too surprisingly this was justified, as typically there were issues in the timing of shipping books to Ghana, much to the disappointment of those who would have liked to have Selasi personally autograph their copies.

Luckily I was able to get a copy in the US – see cover.

And more recently as Selasi’s book was adopted as the class of 2017 Freshman read at Ashesi University College, I was able to see first hand that the UK cover was very different.

The US cover is bold, yet in a way the UK one relates to the flowers which are so important to one of the main characters.  Can I decide which one I prefer?  I am not sure.

What about you the readers?

British Council workshop for upcoming Ghanaian writers

British Council Ghana

I just saw an advert in the Daily Graphic of 10 October 2013 (p25 for those addicted to their physical newspapers) for a Literary workshop to nurture and empower the next generation of Ghanaian writers, and couldn’t resist passing it on, especially as several Ghanaian writers who were associated with a British Council programme in the early 2000s – Crossing Borders – did go on to be quite successful.

The ad had the following blurb, most of which is actually on British Council Ghana’s Facebook page:

“The British Council invites writers, publishers, publishing agents and persons working in the literary and publishing industry to a Management Forum and a 3 Day Capacity Building Workshop in Literary Writing and Publishing to be led by UK publisher, Nana Ayebia Clarke (MBE) of Ayebia Clarke Publishing Limited.

Theme:  Demystifying the publishing industry: the case of a writers life”

There are two events associated with the workshop:

–  Management Forum on Wednesday 16 October, at 6pm at the British Council

–  3 day master class for writers:  16-18 October.  Fee GH¢100

Obviously if someone reading this is interested, and yes, there are lots of Ghanaian writers out there, do phone +233 (0)30 261 0090 or +233 (0)26 377 6049, or email angelina.diyuoh@gh.britishcouncil.org for more information and/or to register.