Thursday, May 20, 2010

An Evening with the Greats

Yesterday evening was an evening to remember. It is the dream of every budding writer to meet other writers who have published their works and whose name is common to all. Yet, greater joy comes from not knowing who the person only to be told that he is an award-winning writer. 

Yesterday evening, at the American Corner of the Legon Centre for International Affairs (LECIA), I had the privilege of meeting two great writers of our time: Kojo Laing, whose latest novel, Big Bishop Roko and the Altar Gangsters, I reviewed on this blog and the Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina.

Binyavanga Wainaina
Binyavanga Wainaina is a Kenyan author, journalist and a 2002 Caine-Prize winning author of Discovering Home. He is also the founding editor of Kwani?, a literary magazine in Kenya. He is also the Director of the Chinua Achebe Centre in New York.

Binyavanga read from his yet to be published memoir. His reading captivated us all and left us laughing with its humour and character descriptions. Before Binyavanga entered the room we were discussing the issue of identity in writing. Should the author projects his identity in writing or should he allow his creative imagination to wonder wild even if it would lead to some Enid-Blyton-like stuff being produced. Binyavanga summed it all up by saying that it is difficult to appreciate what you have and mostly others see more in your surroundings than you would see yourself. Also, it is good to allow your creative imagination to rule you. Kojo Laing commented by quoting Wole Soyinka: "The tiger does not advertise his tigritude".

Presently, whilst writing this blog, I just realised that I have shared with my friends on facebook Binyavanga's essay 'How to Write About Africa'. This piece is one of the most interesting piece I have ever read and it portrays the stereotypic mentality of people concerning Africa.

Kojo Laing
At the end of the reading questions were asked by the audience and it was through this Q&A that I got to know the reasoning behind Kojo Laing's Big Bishop Roko and the Altar Gangsters. I know if I had met him earlier and heard his responses my reactions to the review would definitely have ben different.

All in all it was a great evening. However, a copy of Kojo Laing's book could be obtained at Amazon.

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