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The South African Centre of International PEN (SA PEN) has issued its call for entries for the £10 000 2011 PEN/Studzinsky Literary Awards – which are judged by South African author JM Coetzee.

The 2011 PEN/STUDZINSKI Literary Award aims to encourage creative writing in southern Africa and will offer talented writers an exciting opportunity to launch or develop a literary career.

Get more information from Book SA News here.


Fellow Zimbabwean Emmanuel Sigauke explores issues of the writer’s identity and more…at African Writing Online.

Petina Gappah won the Guardian First Book Award, 2009 for her debut fiction An Elegy for Easterly. Zimbabwe’s National Arts Council recently announced that An Elegy for Easterly is in the running for a National Merit Award.

As a fairly new blogger (I wonder how long I can use that!), I sometimes find it difficult to decide what to post here. There’s a lot of information out there! In any case, Chimamanda Adichie’s amazing talk at the TEDGlobal 2009 conference held in Oxford, UK is one of those pieces of information that I imagine everyone who has any interest in African writers must have seen or heard about somewhere.  But then again, maybe not.  Is it not my passion and intent to share information on this blog? And isn’t she one of my favorite novelists?
Well. Enough of my musing.  Let’s get right to it.

adichie-TEDChimamanda gave a talk at TEDGlobal.  I was inspired. I didn’t know much about TED so I feel the need to say a little about it here. TED presents “riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.” That was all the hook I needed. I’ve already spent a fair amount of time there, riveted.

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. One of their conferences, TEDGlobal is now held annually in Oxford. The themes of the global conference are slightly more international in nature.

About this talk
Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. The danger of a single story.

For a little twist, columnist John Iteshi  does not agree with her views in this speech.

Even Chinuachebea Achebe is getting on the African literary renaissance bandwagon! Alright, alright. I know. We’re talking about Chinua Achebe. He, the “grandfather of modern African literature,” needs no introduction and certainly no reason to jump on any bandwagon. But his publishing now, at this time should really give a boost to other African writers, shouldn’t it? I love it.

In October, the celebrated author of Things Fall Apart and winner of the Man Booker International Prize will release his first new book in more than 20 years, “The Education of a British-Protected Child,” a collection of old and recent essays that piece together the arc of his literary life. His story, and that of his native Nigeria, are closely entwined.

Chinua Achebe’s characteristically measured and nuanced voice is everywhere present in these seventeen beautifully written pieces. In a preface, he discusses his historic visit to his Nigerian homeland on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Things Fall Apart, the story of his tragic car accident nearly twenty years ago, and the potent symbolism of President Obama’s election. In “The Education of a British-Protected Child,” Achebe gives us a vivid portrait of growing up in colonial Nigeria and inhabiting its “middle ground,” recalling both his happy memories of reading novels in secondary school and the harsher truths of colonial rule. In “Spelling Our Proper Name,” Achebe considers the African-American diaspora, meeting and reading Langston Hughes and James Baldwin, and learning what it means not to know “from whence he came.” The complex politics and history of Africa figure in “What Is Nigeria to Me?,” “Africa’s Tarnished Name,” and “Politics and Politicians of Language in African Literature.” And Achebe’s extraordinary family life comes into view in “My Dad and Me” and “My Daughters,” where we observe the effect of Christian missionaries on his father and witness the culture shock of raising “brown” children in America.

Charmingly personal, intellectually disciplined, and steadfastly wise, The Education of a British-Protected Child is an indispensable addition to the remarkable Achebe oeuvre.

Read about it here.

Right on the heels of a big score for African literature with Oprah’s book club pick comes a Publishers Weekly report that publisher HarperCollins has signed Nigerian author E.C. Osondu to a two-book deal. Book agent Tim Duggan took North American rights to a short story collection, called Voice of America, and a novel, called This House Is Not for Sale, by the Providence College professor who won the Caine Prize for African Writing and has a Syracuse University M.F.A. The short story collection follows a variety of characters moving between Nigeria and the U.S., and Duggan described the novel as “a multigenerational saga centered around a Nigerian king and his court in Lagos.”

A two-book deal! Do you think African literature is becoming mainstream? The short-story wins again.

E.C. Osondu is known for his short stories. He is the winner of the 2009 Caine Prize, for which he was a finalist in 2007, for his story “Waiting.” Osondu’s stories have been published in Agni, Guernica, Vice, and Fiction.

Ed Note: It’s official. Uwem Akpan’s Say You’re One of Them is Oprah’s latest book pick. While the literary and publishing world celebrates the selection of a short story collection, we celebrate the giant leap for African literature!

On Friday September 18, Oprah Winfrey will announce her new book club selection. USA Today reports that Ron Hogan of publishing blog GalleyCat predicts (based on and pre-order data), it will be Uwem Akpan’s Say You’re One of Them. The 2008 debut short-story collection received rave reviews for its moving depiction of Africa.

uwem_bookNigerian writer Uwem Akpan was ordained a Jesuit priest in 2003 and graduated with an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan in 2006. Akpan’s stories are set in Rwanda, Nigeria, Benin, and Ethiopia and tell stories about children caught in horrible situations. Two of the stories in his first collection were published in The New Yorker.

Confirmed or not, this is great news for the author. We all know that anything Oprah touches turns to gold! It goes without saying that this will be phenomenal for him. This puts African writers in the forefront. As someone said, Africa and African Writers are in the midst of a remarkable renaissance.

African Books Collective offers “the Best of African Publishing from a Single Source of Supply. African Books Collective, founded, owned and governed by African publishers, seeks to strengthen indigenous African publishing through collective action and to increase the visibility and accessibility of the wealth of African scholarship and culture.”

RedemptionRoadThis month, Cotton Tree Press becomes the first Liberian publisher to become a part of African Books Collective. Cotton Tree Press was established in January 2008 to develop and publish literary and non-fiction works of writers from Liberia, in particular, and from Africans both on the continent and in the Diaspora. Cotton Tree’s first release is the Redemption Road by novelist Elma Shaw.

As a Liberian, I am certainly proud of Elma’s accomplishments. Redemption Road touches on so many of the underlying issues resulting from the civil war. She puts into context what many of us have heard about but never experienced.