Monday, June 14, 2010

New Acquisitions

Last Friday I happen to pass by the Accra Mall, and the Silverbirds store attracted me. The books pulled me and without looking left or right I entered the store. In the store, I headed directly towards the African Fiction section and I was glad to see new books from established writers such as Atukwei Okai (Lorgoligi Logarithms and Oath of the Fontomfrom), Wole Soyinka and many others filling the spaces in the shelves.

Whilst searching for nothing in particular I came across two books which I couldn't prevent myself from buying. There are books whose price tag, no matter how absurd they seem, cannot, in no way whatsoever, prevent the book-addict from buying. One such book was Chimamanda's The Thing Around Your Neck, though I think it was more out of pure passion to collect this author's works than the quality of the book, as I have not at that point in time read any synopsis of it.

So in my search for nothing I came across Uwem Akpan's Say You're One of Them and Wole Soyinka's You Must Set Forth At Dawn.

Say You Are One of Them (Uwem Akpan):
Finally I have a book that has officially been recommended by Oprah Winfrey. Though I have not read this novel, I have heard a lot of good reviews about this book and I couldn't prevent myself from picking it up. The prize tag of this book was 38.50 Ghana Cedis (close to US$ 27). This copy was published by Bookcraft.

Akpan reveals Africa's pain, pity, joy and grace, and comes closer to the truth about modern Africa than the entire outpourings of the Western mass media--GUARDIAN

Left me gasping--Oprah Winfrey

Akpan transports the reader into gritty scenes of chaos and fear in his rich debut collection of five long stories set in war-torn Africa. Akpan's prose is beautiful and his stories are insightful and revealing...--Publishers Weekly

The humor, the endurance, the horrors and grace-Akpan has captured all of it...The stories are not only amazing and moving, and imbued with a powerful moral courage--they are also surprisingly expert... Beautifully constructed, stately in a way that offsets their impoverished scenarios. Akpan wants you to see and feel Africa, its glory and its pain. And you do, which makes this an extraordinary book.--O Magazine

Akpan's Africa is a messy violent place... and its innocent kids are what pull at our heartstrings.--The Guardian

[A] Startling debut collection... [Akpan] fuses knowledge of African poverty and strife wit a conspicuously literary approach to storytelling, filtering tales of horror through the wide eyes of the young--Tower Books

Uwem Akpan writes with a political fierceness and a humanity so full of compassion it might just change the world. His is a burning talent.--Chris Abani

An important literary debut... juxtaposed against the clarity and revelation in Akpan's prose-as translucent a style as I've read in a long while-we find subjects that nearly render the mind helpless and throw the heart into a hopeless erratic rhythm our of fear, our of pity, out of the shame of being only a few degrees of separation removed from these monstrous modern circumstances... The reader discovers that no hiding place is good enough with these stories battering at your mind and heart--Chicago Tribune

Awards and Achievement
Published in 2008, the book has won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book, Africa Region; PEN/Beyond Margins Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. It was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Fr. Uwem was also nominated for the (UK) Guardian First Book Award and for the Caine Prize for African Writing. He is the first Nigerian writer to win the Prestigious Oprah Winfrey Bookclub endorsement.

Biography of Author
Fr. Uwem was born in Ikot Akpan Eda, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. After attending Queen of Apostles' Minor Seminary, Afaha Obong, he studied at Creighton and Gonzaga universities, USA, and at Hekima College, Kenya. Ordained in 2003, he received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan in 2006. 

You Must Set Forth at Dawn, Memoirs (Wole Soyinka)
A friend gave me an old version of this book but I decided to get a copy that I could call my own. Since I have not read any book by the first African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, a prize tag of of 44.90 Ghana Cedis (US$ 32) could not put me off. Memoirs help us to know the make-up of authors and more especially if it is an autobiography rather than a biography. I don't believe Wole Soyinka needs any introduction, though I know there are some individuals who call themselves booklovers but have not heard of this great son of Africa. To such individuals I would beg of them to search and read him. The copy I have was jointly published by Bookcraft and Aybia Clarke Publishing Ltd.

If the spirit of African democracy has a voice and a face, they belonged to Wole Soyinka--Henry Louis Gates, jnr.

Bread, Justice, and the bread of the heart-which is the beauty of Literature, the written word-Wole Soyinka fulfills all these--Nadine Gordimer (Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 1991)

As much a political history as it is an autobiography, this candid memoir....with the passionate close-up view of the past and the valuable insights. a must for anyone concerned with human rights and the global web of oil, poverty and corruption--Hazel ROCHMAN

Set Forth at Dawn gives us a measure of the author's humanity and values. Both have been honed in our country. He has been made by Nigeria as much as he has defined its conscience--Chief Emeka ANYAOKU, Former Commonwealth  Secretary-General


  1. Do books really cost so much in Ghana? I'm appallled.

  2. @Stefania...yes and this is a form of price discrimination. I wonder whom they are targeting with these cut-throat prices? If they reduce their price they would see an increase in patronage. Since last year June, I decided to spend 50 Ghana Cedis (approx. US$ 35) on books but I saw that I couldn't buy as much books so I stopped. And there aren't much bookshops available and there are almost no used books outlets. The Legon Bookshop sells some of these books and sometimes the price difference could be substantial. Sometimes books at the University of Ghana's (Legon) bookshop could cost half of what they would sell at the Silverbirds lifestyle shop. The problem is that the UG Bookshop don't have enough, and recent, books. Because they are serving a larger community with all kinds of needs the fiction section I think is suffering. I went there and couldn't get Ayi Kwei Armah's The Healers, Osiris Rising etc.

  3. wow, i'm sorry to hear that books are so expensive in ghana. are you on bookmooch? it's a way to trade used books through the mail.
    i hope you enjoy your new books, and I like what you've done with the website!

  4. Hi Marie, yes they are. It makes buying very difficult. Besides, I cannot purchase books over the net because I don't have the facility (credit card etc). It's difficult.

  5. I think Bookmooch is a book swap and so don't need a credit card. You need to be willing to give some of your books away, though.

  6. Okay didn't know that. It therefore means that I would have to post out some books huh? I would check it out. giving out books is like giving out babies. it would be difficult. lol

  7. i miss ur black background


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