The Africa39 is announced

Just saw an announcement about the Africa39 list of upcoming African writers under 40.  More information is available via the Hay Festival Africa39 webpages .

According to the list of nominees, there are three with a Ghanaian connection:

  1. Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, author of Powder necklace [and yes, I have read it]
  2. Nii Ayikwei Parkes, author of Tail of the blue bird [which I have mentioned on several occasions!]
  3. Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana must go [I’ve already mentioned this novel, one of my favourites for 2013]

It is however worth noting that all these Ghanaian authors live mostly outside Ghana – though Nii Ayikwei Parkes is presently in Ghana.

Congratulations to all the nominees, and of course I look forward to reading the anthology of short stories which will be launched in ImageOctober 2014.

 

“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?

July round-up – books etc

Although it wasn’t that long ago since I posted about my reading, buying and events, this was about May and June, so rather than delaying things, I thought I should get my act together reasonably early this time.

So this covers activities in July.

I completed six books during the period: five fiction and one non-fiction. There were four male authors and two females, and only one Ghanaian author! Plus two were read on Kindle, and the rest in physical form.

Here,  in the order that I finished them, are my July reads:

  1. Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore, by Robin Sloan [read for Accra Book Club; I preferred the first part of this novel, and didn’t really like the way it ended. Maybe I need to re-read it?]
  2. Late rain, by Lynn Kostoff [I guess you could call this a crime story, maybe Florida noir?]
  3. The kill artist, by Daniel Silva [pure escapism, but a good story nonetheless. I do like Silva’s hero!]
  4. Ghana must go, by Taiye Selasi [family saga or drama; very poignant and moving. I really liked it.  I think this is one of my favourite books of the year.]
  5. Holes, by Louis Sachar [I had seen the movie, and then came across the book. Not sure which one I preferred!]
  6. Taste – the story of Britain through its cooking, by Kate Colquhoun [I do like cookery and food books, and this one was pretty interesting]

The buying front was also pretty busy – and somewhat self-indulgent. I managed to acquire seven titles on my Kindle (or rather, to be read via a Kindle app on my new tablet) – including four freebies (yeah!) plus nine physical books. That definitely means that I will have to try to restrain myself a little in August.

I attended four book related events in July (previously discussed, so I won’t go into much detail) – and they were concentrated in the last couple of weeks. Two involved Taiye Selasi, who read excerpts from her first novel, Ghana must go,  to a packed audience at the Villa Monticello, followed the evening after by a discussion about how she finally made the decision to write her novel. Then Nigerian writer Chibundu Onuzo joined Martin Egblewogbe at an all too brief reading hosted by Nii Ayikwei Parkes at Sytris. And finally there was a reading by chick-lit/romance writer Nana Malone who gave a reading at the Goethe Institut. It was interesting to hear how she got into full-time writing, and that the self-publishing e-book route had served her well.

I am not sure what my plans are for August; I tend to decide on my reading on a rather ad hoc basis.   But I have plenty of works to choose from!

Follow-up to a BIG literary week in Accra.

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.

Ghana must go Amazon coverI 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!

The Spider King's daughter Amazon coverAnd 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.

A BIG literary week in Accra!

51hg9fpz0gL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_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.

A book launch and two readings – a busy two weeks in Accra

A couple of very busy weeks on the books and information side – that is, apart from work which included a four-day workshop on critical thinking and writing – and I am feeling rather guilty about not posting earlier.  No really valid excuses though.  But the long weekend for 1 July (Ghana’s Republic Day) is definitely providing a bit of inspiration!

I have to admit that I am usually fairly happy to attend book launches here in Accra, though I do admit that I tend to prefer those that involve fiction and/or some kind of historical orientation.  Business and management related books I tend to be a bit more picky about, but an invitation to the launch of Elikem Kuenyehia’s Kuenyehia on entrepreneurship was irresistible. Held at British Council Accra, this was a pretty high powered affair, with fairly sophisticated decorations, and many VIPs or should I say VVIPs present (including Sam Jonah as Chairman, Nigerian businessman and entrepreneur Tony Elumelu as Guest of Honour, Joyce Aryee as Chief Auctioneer and Kwasi Kyei Darkwah as MC)!  It was also great to see several Ashesi students and alums assisting in making the programme go smoothly – I know a lot of effort goes into this!

I attended two book readings:  one by Nii Ayikwei Parkes – which was held at Sytris, and wonderfully described and photographed by my colleague, Kajsa, so I won’t really go into any details, as she has really said it all.  Sytris was a good location, and having a small cafe as well meant that we were not only feeding our brains and hearts!  It was great actually seeing Nii Ayikwei Parkes in person, and hearing him perform some of his poems.

The second reading, held at the Goethe Institut, as part of their collaboration with Writers Project of Ghana,  was also by an expatriate Ghanaian/Nigerian writer, Taiye Selasiwho is known for having coined the term “Afropolitan”. There were excerpts from her short story “The Sex Lives of African Girls” which was published in Granta 115 and also from the manuscript of her forthcoming book, Ghana must go, which is due to be published in 2013. She was funny and at times biting in her critique of contemporary Ghanaian life.  Definitely someone to watch out for!

And because it was the last week of the month, there was our usual Accra Book Club gathering, a relatively small group, as usual, discussing – not in much detail though – Dan Rhodes Little hands clapping.  Most of us didn’t really like it, but that was OK.  And while munching on our pizzas, we talked about other books, including science fiction, the Twilight series, and the phenomenon of Fifty shades of grey – which none of us had read!

I am not sure what events will be coming up in July – but I am sure there will be some.  A good time to read though, as the weather here in Accra is definitely cooler!