2015 Ghana and Africa reads

I know I haven’t done much posting over the last year, and I guess one of my New Year’s resolutions for this year is to do more in this area. Focus is the key though.

I didn’t do much reading of fiction from Ghana, as seen by the following:

  • Adonoo, Elikem: The teleport conspiracy [lent to me by the author]
  • Attah, Ayesha Harruna: Saturday’s shadows [author is definitely maturing]
  • Goka, Ruby Yayra: The lost royal treasure [young adult]

although I do have to admit to reading some Ghanaian flash fiction, but those I didn’t record!

Non-fiction on Ghana did much better:

  • Akpabli, Kofi: Harmattan – a cultural profile of Northern Ghana
  • Coe, Cati: The scattered family – Parenting, African migrants and global inequality [doubly relevant as a lot of the families were from Akuapim South District in Ghana, where I work]
  • Dagadu, Kati Torda (ed): Ghana: Where the bead speaks
  • Larratt, Carol: Human mules – The kayayo girls [not really sure whether this was creative non-fiction, but fascinating nonetheless]
  • Tonah, Steve: Fulani in Ghana: Migration history, integration and resistance
  • Tsikata, Dzodzi: In the shadow of the large dams [having worked near Nigeria’s first hydroelectric dam, I am still fascinated by the impact of these large projects]
  • Owusu, Mary A Seiwaa: Prempeh II and the making of modern Asante 

I did read a fair amount of African fiction, with a tendency towards Nigerian writers/writers of Nigerian descent:

  • The Gonjon pin and other stories: the Caine Prize for African fiction 2014 [even though I often download the shortlisted stories, I still like buying the published collections]
  • To see the mountain and other stories: The Caine Prize for African writing 2011
  • Barrett, A Igoni: Love is power, or something like that
  • Ndibe, Okey: Foreign Gods, Inc. [for Accra Book Club]
  • de Hernandez, Jennifer et al: African women writing resistance [a mixture of fiction and non-fiction]
  • Forna, Aminatta: The memory of love [for Accra Book Club]
  • Hamilton, Masha: The camel bookmobile [not sure this really counts, though the setting is mostly Kenya]
  • Imaseun, Eghosa: To Saint Patrick [I had downloaded this before attending a WPG reading by this author.  A Nigerian detective story!]
  • Laye, Camara: The dark child [rather amazing that I hadn’t read this before!]
  • Obioma, Chigozie: The fishermen [for Accra Book Club]
  • Okorafor, Nnedi: Lagoon [author is of Nigerian descent]
  • Omotoso, Yewande: Bom boy
  • Oparanta, Chinelo: Happiness, like water [definitely an author to watch]
  • Oyeyemi, Helen: Boy, Snow, Bird [the setting is the US, though the author is of Nigerian descent] [for Accra Book Club]
  • Wanner, Zukiswa: London Cape Town Joburg [Inspired partly by Caine Prize presentation]

Followed up by a few non-fiction books with an African emphasis:

  • Fuller, Alexandra: Cocktail hour under the tree of forgetfulness [even though the main characters aren’t particularly nice, the author writes well and sympathetically]
  • Ngugi Wa Thiongo: Decolonising the mind 
  • Saro-Wiwa, Noo: Looking for Transwonderland 

I guess the above will sort of qualify for the 2015 Africa Reading Challenge.  Although sometimes I feel it is not much of a challenge really, as I tend to read a fair number of books by Ghanaians/about Ghana and also by Africans/about Africa anyway – approximately 30% of my reading.

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Ghanaian literature week extended

Kinna of Kinna Reads just announced that the Ghanaian literature week would be extended!

Yeah!

I was actually reading a book set in Ghana during the actual week – Children of the street, by Kwei Quartey –  but didn’t get around to saying anything about it, so maybe now I will have that chance!

OK, I do admit that I probably read at least one Ghana or Africa based or authored book every month, and there are some months when I will read many more than that.  It all depends on what I feel like reading.

February 2012 reading, and book buying

Several book-blogging colleagues (Kinna Reads, ImageNations and Reading Pleasure ) have written about their February reading and plans for March.  Naturally as a book lover and reader, I am always happy to see what others have been reading, and also what their To Be Read “bookshelves” look like.

On the reading front, I only finished four books – three fiction and one non-fiction, three male authors and one woman, two with Ghanaian settings:

  1. The uncommon reader, by Alan Bennett [which was actually a re-read, for Accra Book Club.  A satirical, comic view of the British Queen, and the effects of reading.  A short novella, but definitely for book lovers!]
  2. Room, by Emma Donoghue  [Really good novel about a young woman imprisoned for several years, and the life she make for herself and her son born in captivity.  Harrowing on the emotions at times]
  3. A sense of savanna … tales of a friendly walk through Northern Ghana, by Kofi Akpabli [Enjoyable travelogue. Some locations I have been to; others I would love to visit]
  4. Tales from different tails, by Nana Awere Damoah [Stories mostly about relationships, often with setting in Ghanaian tertiary institutions]

Books 3 and 4 could count towards the Africa Reading Challenge .

On the book-buying side, not much activity.  I did buy eight books – split between fiction and non-fiction  – a sort of belated Christmas cum New Year present to myself! But I haven’t started reading any of them yet.  And during February I didn’t buy or download any e-books either!

Do I have plans for March? Not really – apart from finishing a few of the books I am reading now. But who knows how I will feel as the month moves on?

And if there is a lot of load-shedding from Electricity Company of Ghana, I may not be able to do much reading in the evenings anyway!

January reading and book buying

January 2012 wasn’t a particularly great book-buying month for me, though my reading was what I would consider OK.

I finished reading seven books:   five  were fiction, two non-fiction.  Three were written by Africans, and an additional one was about Ghana.  The three non-African books were all mysteries.  So here is my list:

  • Ratcatcher, by James McGee (a mystery set in Regency London)
  • Tabom, by Marco Aurelio Schaumloeffel (about the Afro-Brazilian community among the Gas of Accra)
  • Ways of dying, by Zakes Mda (South African novel which takes place in the townships before the end of apartheid)
  • The sweetness at the bottom of the pie, by Alan Bradley (11 year old heroine in a country house mystery set in post World War II England)
  • You’re not a country, Africa, by Pius Adesanmi (very readable essays; won the Penguin prize for African non-fiction)
  • 10 years of the Caine Prize for African writing (winning short stories from 2001 to 2008; read for Accra Book Club)
  • The snowman, by Jo Nesbo (serial killer in Norway involves snowmen)

With the exception of the Caine Prize collection and Ways of dying (which I borrowed from Ashesi‘s library), all were on my TBR shelves.

I didn’t really buy many books either.  I bought  two Tintin books (one is a gift), plus a couple of cookbooks (a weakness), and a copy of Children’s rights in Ghana, which was co-edited by a colleague – all in physical format. And there were  were two electronic ones, loaded onto my Kindle:  Silver sparrow, by Tayari Jones and the Caine prize collection mentioned already.

When I started writing this, I thought January was not very inspiring, but upon reflection, it wasn’t that bad, after all.

Reading and libraries in Ghana

Thanks to two colleagues for posting subjects very dear to my heart:

  • Kinnareads on The reader in Ghana – which talks about the lack of reading, except for school and academic related purposes
  • Multilogue: mind and matter on Community power – which talks about the libraries that the author has used here in Ghana, very personal and emotional, but important nonetheless

I can only say thanks to both authors for expressing these sentiments which do need to be talked about.

Book buying in July 2011

My book buying in July was relatively mild – compared to some months…

Mainly because they were available, and pretty cheap, I bought four Tintin books, all by Herge:
1. Tintin in America
2. The broken ear
3. The secret of the Unicorn
4. Red Rackham’s treasure

I’ve read them all before – several times – but I know others will enjoy them!

As mentioned previously there were a couple of book launches during the month, one I did not attend, and the
other one I did. Two more books then

5. A place of beautiful nonsense, by Alba Sumprim [non fiction, satire about Ghana] (I bought my copy at Silverbird  bookstore though one could contact the author
6. The chicken thief, by Fiona Leonard [mild mannered thriller set in Southern Africa]
I am actually reading both of these as I write, and enjoying them, in totally different ways.

And just before the end of the month:
7. Heartstone, by C J Sansom (one of the Shardlake Tudor mysteries)
8. Crocodile bread, by Kathy Knowles (a picture book) [available in Ghana at various local bookshops – I bought my copy at Vidyas –  and through Osu Childrens Library Fund

And lest I forget – because it still isn’t my primary means of reading – I “bought” five books to be read on
my Kindle, though I must honestly say that four of them did not cost anything 🙂 Bargains are not to be
missed, even in the electronic world!

9. Les miserables, by Victor Hugo [classic, which I have never read]
10. Fairy tales every child should know, by Hamilton Wright Mabie [time to revisit childhood?]
11. A cold day for murder, by Dana Stabenow [easy reading]
12. Back on murder, by J Mark bertrand [easy reading]
13. State of wonder, by Ann Patchett [literary, with good reviews]

So 60+% on physical books, and a little less than 40% on e-books.  I bought the physical books at Kingdom, Silverbird, Goethe Institut (book launch) and Vidya’s – all in Accra; the e-books were downloaded from Amazon.

I wonder how this compares to others?

Resuming posting

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I haven’t posted for some time, and perhaps I should explain the reasons why in more detail.

To begin with I had to have some surgery done on both of my eyes, which meant that reading was somewhat limited for much of April and May. And let me tell you, it was hard not to read so much! Plus I wasn’t physically in Accra, though I suppose I could have written about what else I was doing? And finally a close person in my life passed away, so lately I have been pre-occupied with burial and funeral arrangements, and other related matters.

Routines are however reasserting themselves, and I really do want to resume posting more often, just as I go back to reading – either in print, on screen or on my Kindle – a bit more regularly. I will also try to attend more events that have a literary slant to them – including readings, book clubs and book launches, and as I attend, I hope to post my reactions

And of course work too is about to get very, very busy, as Ashesi University College is about to move from rented premises in three different compounds in Labone to its permanent site in Berekuso, on the old Aburi road.