The 1st Half of 2015
Chigozie Obioma’s debut novel, The Fishermen, made quite a splash in the first half of 2015. The novel garnered a mass of critical acclaim, with Eleanor Catton praising it as ‘A truly magnificent debut’, and now it is on the Booker Prize longlist.
Well, the second half of the year promises to deliver some equally magnificent read. Some of the books have been recently published, others soon to be published, but all by writers of African descent on the continent or elsewhere.
Below is a pointer to books by African writers to stock up on in the second half of 2015.
…and the 2nd Half of 2015
Confession of the Lioness is a novel by Mozambican author, Mia Couto, who won the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. The novel was first published in Portuguese as A Confissao da Leoa in 2012 and translated into English by David Brookshaw in July 2015 by Farra, Straus, and Giroux. Confessions of a Lioness is set in Kulumani, rural Mozambique. It tells the story of a village whose female population is haunted by ghostlike lionesses.
Blackass. With a collection of stories to his credit, the Nigerian author, A. Igoni Barrett, has been branded as a short story writer. Well, he is about to be known in a different form, the novel. His novel, Blackass, was published in July by Chatto & Windus. ‘White skin, green eyes, red hair…Blackass’, the cover reads. Its synopsis on the Random House website reads like Kafka’s Metamorphosis: ‘Furo Wariboko- born and bred in Lagos- wakes up on the morning of his job interview to discover he has turned into a white man.’ Despite his transformation, it adds, his buttocks remains effectively black, an impediment to his privileges as a ‘white man’ in Nigeria.
The Book of Memory. Petina Gappah, the Zimbabwean author of the short story collection, An Elegy for Easterly, which was shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and won the Guardian First book award in 2009, is back with a novel, The Book of Memory. In Petina’s debut novel, a murder convict narrates her story from a prison in Harare. The Book of Memory will be published in August by Faber.
Binti is the forthcoming novella by Nigerian-American Science Fiction/Fantasy author, Nnedi Okoroafor, who in 2010 won the World Fantasy Award for her novel, Who Fears Death. Binti will be published in September by Tor.com. In Binti, the eponymous character is offered admission at a university in the galaxy. The novella details her travels through space and the challenges she encounters as she encounters aliens. Like Nnedi’s other books, Binti is a hybrid of feminism and science fiction.
Lusaka Punk and Other Stories is the 2015 Caine Prize Anthology. As is the norm, it contains the five stories shortlisted for this year’s prize, including the winning story, The Sack, by Zambia’s Namwali Serpell.
But there is more to Lusaka Punk than the shortlisted stories, which anyway, are available for free online; it also features stories by the 12 participants in the Caine prize workshop held in Ghana a few months ago. Other writers in the anthology are: Diane Awerbuck, South Africa; Onipede Hollist, Sierra Leone; Dalle Abraham, Kenya; Nkiacha Atemnkeng, Cameroon; Akwaeke Emezi, Nigeria; Timothy Kimutai, Kenya; Jonathan Mbuna, Malawi; and Efemia Chela, Jonathan Dotse, Jemila Abdulai, Aisha Nelson, and Nana Boateng, from Ghana. Talk of a cocktail of African writers. Lusaka Punk was published in July by New Internationalist.
PS: It is worth noting in time that 2016 also promises to be a great year for African writing. Going from the success of its first outing in 2014, Ankara Press will again publish a set of romance titles from the continent in 2016 – date yet to be announced. The novels will first be published as e-books, and Teju Cole’s collection of essays on varied subjects, Known and Strange Things, will be published in early 2016.