May and June 2013 reading

It is more than slightly belated, for a variety of reasons – including holidays ūüôā – 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:

  1. 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]
  2. A whispered name, by William Brodrick.  [A fictional investigation of a historical incident in World War I]
  3. 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!]
  4. Clea’s moon, by Edward Wright. ¬†[Thriller set in post World War II Los Angeles]
  5. The magicians, by Lev Grossman.  [Fantasy, partly set in a magical college!]
  6. Canada, by Richard Ford.  [Story of a family broken up when the parents rob a bank; an Accra Book Club read]
  7. Haiti noir, edited by Edwidge Danticat.  [Crime/thriller short stories set mostly in Haiti; some of them were very spooky]
  8. 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.

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Cassava Republic books in Ghana! at Yari Yari Ntoaso

ImageI won’t talk about Yari Yari Ntoaso (an international conference on literature by women of African ancestry) in this post, but if you want to know more see¬†http://kinnareads.wordpress.com/¬†who is posting the schedule, and photos, or follow the #YariYari hashtag on Twitter.

What I wanted to comment about was the fact that the well known Nigerian publisher, Cassava Republic, had a stand among the tables of vendors! ¬†How pleased I was to see them, and of course I couldn’t resist buying something on Day 1 – and who knows what will happen on Days 2-4?

The comment I made to their representative was to ask why they didn’t sell any of their Imagebooks here in Ghana? ¬†I would much rather support either a Ghanaian or other West African business if this is possible. ¬†I know the market might not be huge, but still I do believe there is a market for Nigerian literature here. ¬†Certainly I saw at least six other books that I would have bought from them if I hadn’t either read or bought them already!

I wonder what other readers think?

April 2013 bookish activities

Looking back on April 2013 books, information and library activities

To begin with as usual, a small review of my April completed reads: I read six books (listed below), ironically more non-fiction than fiction, and also more male writers than female. There was one Ghanaian author, two non-Ghanaian African authors, and three non-Africans.

  1. This child will be great, by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf [I found the first part much more interesting than the second, which was more political]
  2. The library at night, by Alberto Manguel [And of course, I dipped in and out of this book just before going to sleep!]
  3. Cod, by Mark Kurlansky [interesting, but not as fascinating as some of his other books]
  4. The 100 year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson [one of the books suggested for Accra Book Club. Very funny. And one keeps wondering what the main character will get up to next!]
  5. Mr Happy and the hammer of God and other stories, by Martin Egblewogbe [some very intriguing stories in this collection, which is focussed more on the thoughts of the characters, rather than the external African/Ghanaian environments]
  6. Of Africa, by Wole Soyinka [one of the recommendations for Accra Book Club, which I did not finish before the discussion. Very, very dense.]

Book buying was definitely on the meager side (which means I definitely have to make up in subsequent months): I only bought two books – one at a local bookshop (Sytris) and the other from a colleague who got it from the author.

Activities were as usual fairly varied:

  • Accra Book Club had one of its gatherings – with a discussion of Dune, by Frank Herbert (see post). As I may have mentioned, I really enjoyed re-reading this classic science fiction novel.
  • I joined a group of colleagues for a presentation on eLibraryUSA at the US Embassy Information Resource Center. I enjoyed it, and appreciated using some of the new resources later in the month.
  • Writers Project of Ghana held its March Ghana Voices programme, with Martin Egblewogbe reading some of his poetry, and excerpts from his book, Mr Happy and the hammer of God and other stories, mentioned above.
  • And finally, just before listening to various cultural gurus hosted by Adventurers in the Diaspora , I spoke to a visiting Danish postgraduate student studying literacy/books/reading/libraries in Ghana. I hope he got something out of the interview.

So what about May? lots coming up, including Yari Yari Ntoaso which I am really looking forward to!

 

 

Yari Yari Ntoaso: an international conference of African women’s literature coming up!

YYARI_1As readers/followers of this blog will know, I am always on the lookout for interesting literary/library/information events taking place here in Accra.  And May definitely looks like a month to look forward to.

Recently I received a press release about the forthcoming Yari Yari Ntoaso African women’s literature conference.

An excerpt follows:

The Organization of Women Writers of Africa (OWWA) and New York¬†University (NYU), in collaboration with Ghana-based Mbaasem Foundation and the Spanish Fundaci√≥n Mujeres por √Āfrica (Women for Africa Foundation), will present Yari Yari Ntoaso: ¬†¬†Continuing the Dialogue ‚Äď An International Conference on Literature by Women of¬†African Ancestry. This major conference will put writers, critics and readers from across¬†Africa, the USA, Europe, and the Caribbean in dialogue with each other in Accra, Ghana, from May 16-19, 2013.

¬†More than a dozen emerging and established Ghanaian writers and scholars, including Ama Ata Aidoo, Amma Darko, Ruby Goka, Mamle Kabu, Esi Sutherland-Addy and Margaret Busby will speak about their work on topics ranging from identity, to the craft of writing, to literary activism. These authors will be joined by other international writers such as: Angela Davis (USA), Tess Onwueme (Nigeria), Natalia Molebatsi (South Africa), Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro (Puerto Rico), Sapphire (USA), Veronique Tadjo (C√īte d‚ÄôIvoire), Evelyne Trouillot (Haiti), and many others (a list of participants is below). Local organizations participating in this exciting gathering include the Pan-African Writers Association, the Ghana Association of Writers, and the Writers Project of Ghana.¬†

Most events will be held at the facilities of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (No. 54 Independence Avenue, near the Ridge¬†Roundabout) in Accra. A draft program is available in the ‚ÄúGallery‚ÄĚ section of¬†www.indiegogo.com/owwa

Ever since I heard of this event, I have been looking forward to it, and am already planning which sessions I will attend!