For those of us bibliophiles in Ghana in particular and those in Sub-Saharan Africa, whatever this handed-down geographic description means, in general but excluding South Africa, the quest of getting quality books of authors within the sub-region could be as daunting as climbing Mount Everest. In fact, such books are hardly available. Sometime past, this gap was filled by the African Writers Series of the Heinemann Publishers. Through this company, books such as Achebe's Things Fall Apart, Armah's The Beautyful Ones are not Yet Born got a huge following. And most of today's African writers we hold in high esteem were discovered or published by Heinemann.
However, today, Heinemann are no longer publishing new African writers. What they seem to be doing is reprinting or republishing old stories. For instance, they have recently reprinted Armah's The Beautyful Ones are not Yet Born. In their absence, a gap was created and a dire need for its closure arose. South Africa, per their economic realities did not suffer much for there exist in that country several publishing firms; however, their distribution networks hardly get to those of us in West Africa, especially Ghana. Again, Nigeria, known for its great writers like the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, the Man Booker International winner Chinua Achebe, the playwright Ola Rotimi, poet John Pepper Clark, had also seen a nascent proliferation of publishing firms. Cassava Republic and Fafarina, to name a few. The effect of this is the high concentration of Nigerian and South African writers on any longlist of awards for African writers. A case in point is the recent Wole Soyinka Prize; the Caine Prize and others could also be cited.
In comes Ayebia-Clarke Publishers. This publishing house is gradually taking the proverbial bull by its curlicue horns. According to the publishing house they 'are bespoke publishers specialising in quality African and Caribbean writing.' This focus has awarded Ayebia-Clarke a niche within which to place their business. In fact, several books have already been released by them, some of those have been reviewed here on ImageNations. And with a focus on unearthing new and diverse creative talent, we are sure to read interesting stories from them.
As a blog geared towards the promotion of African Literature it is imperative that such noble ventures are supported in any way possible for in Ghana most publishing houses are text-book-inclined. In view of this, in days or weeks to come, I will be launching the Ayebia-Clarke Reading Challenge in line with Boston Bibliophile's Europa Challenge as an addition to this year's several challenges. There will be no demands or limitations. All that is required is to read a book published by Ayebia-Clarke.
Read more about Ayebia-Clarke here.