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Njoroge, Kihika, & Kamiti: Epochs of African Literature, A Reader's Perspective

Though Achebe's Things Fall Apart(1958) is often cited and used as the beginning of the modern African novel written in English (the book being the first to receive critical global acclaim), it was not necessarily the first novel published in Africa. Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford's Ethiopia Unbound: Studies in Race Emancipation, published in 1911, has been cited as, probably, the first African novel written in English. Similarly, Herbert Isaac Ernest Dhlomo's (from South Africa) The Girl who Killed to Save: Nongqawuse the Liberator published in 1935 is regarded as first African Play in English.

In any discussion of initiatory works, especially those in relation to literary works, a distinction should be made between writing and publication with the latter being usually the preferred index. And in so far as recognition could be a function of distribution and, consequently, acceptance, it possibly could be that there was an African novel, prior to this. However, in the abse…

What are You Reading in these COVID times?

It's been a long long time. A lot has happened in my life and in the world at large. We have had this pandemic, which has locked almost every country down. In this period, there are few activities you can do and reading is one of them. 
Share your COVID-19 Reading List with us so we can have an interesting chats. Tell us the favourite on the list and why.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize Shortlist

Twenty-four outstanding stories have been selected by an international judging panel from 5182 entries from 48 Commonwealth countries. The writers come from 14 countries including, for the first time, Samoa and Ghana.
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English from the Commonwealth. As well as being open to entries translated into English from any language, it is the only literary prize in the world where entries can be submitted in Bengali, Chinese, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, and Tamil. Again, in 2018, we’re delighted that a translated story has reached the shortlist. The inclusion of other languages in the Prize speaks to Commonwealth Writers’ recognition of the need for linguistic diversity to promote the richness of varied literary traditions and lesser-heard narratives.
The 24 entries have earned their place on the shortlist - a rich collection of stori es showcasing the skill and talent of the writers and ca…

Smiles from 35,000 ft

The lines blurred over teary eyes
As yesterday's sentences crawled through the crenels of a hypnic-jerk mind

Afraid to think of things the world taboos
Yet bold to defend it resolutely in conversation with itself

As I looked down from the roof of the earth
I recreated your little cheeks swelling with laughter... the twilight twinkles in those tiny eyes...

We may have endlessly, hopelessly fallen into this thing which has for years written itself into society's hypocritical epithet
And we may have to ball it up and dump it in their dump-truck...
Or timidly follow their path and forever hide this primal base from their accusatory eyes, away from:

Them who hide their dangling scrotums in hideous togases to deceive naive maidens
Them who walk the shore to rebuke the footprints of yesterday's memories
Them who cast stones from behind books and creeds...

But tell me, how does one bury a sailing cork?
Why should one pluck a smile from 35,000ft and smash it aground?
Is it love if …

304. Afriku - Haiku & Senryu from Ghana by Adjei Agyei-Baah

Art is dynamic. Art is adaptive. And regardless of where it originates, and with what rules, it is bound to transform and adapt to different cultures. The debate has always been to stick within the rules, be novel with the rules, or to break the rules entirely. But it is these debates, and how they are treated by active-passive artists and the critics alike, that makes art simply ART. It is what has kept it valuable and relevant in an age where the computer is determined to take over our lives and transform everything into a virtual non-reality.
Haiku is just one poetry form. It is perhaps the shortest poetry form, albeit with the longest set of rules. One Haijin (a Haiku poet), Jane Reichhold wrote in her book that one must learn all the rules, practice them, and break them. This is such a difficult thing to do, breaking them. Nevertheless, it is what one must do to remain relevant or to adapt the art form to a given culture. And Haiku is one poetry form that requires a lot of adapta…

Paul Beatty Wins the 2016 Man Booker Prize

Paul Beatty's The Sellout have been announced as the winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize. This makes Paul the first American to have won the prize since the change in rules in 2015, allowing any book published in English in the UK eligible.
According to the Man Booker Prize"The Sellout is a searing satire on race relations in contemporary America", which was "described by The New York Times as a ‘metaphorical multicultural pot almost too hot to touch’, whilst the Wall Street Journal called it a ‘Swiftian satire of the highest order. Like someone shouting fire in a crowded theatre, Mr. Beatty has whispered “Racism” in a postracial world.’"
Though the prize has over the years been bogged with controversy - readers keening about its dumbing down (sacrificing literary merit on the altar of readability) and the bolder ones threatening to form another prize, The Man Booker Prize is still an authoritative source for good books, new novelists, and bold narratives (from…

303. Black Ass by A. Igoni Barrett

"Furo Wariboko awoke this morning to find that dreams can lose their way and turn up on the wrong side of sleep." With this foreboding line Igoni Barrett ushers the reader into the complex and funny world of Furo Wariboko who woke up one morning to find himself transformed into a Caucasian with a black-patched bottom, green eyes and red hair. However, this furious instantaneous genetic mutation did not affect his speech and so Furo looks like a foreigner but speaks like a Nigerian. How will Furo, a young graduate born and bred in a low-income suburb of Lagos and attending his first interview on the first day of this startling transmogrification, navigate the dangerous curves and turns of this identity quagmire? How will he convince people of his Nigerian identiy, when his looks rejects his name and his documents reject his looks? How will he face his family and tell them that he is the Furo they knew the night before? How will they reconcile the two Furos into his new physi…

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2017 Now Open for Entries

One of the flagship projects of Commonwealth Writers, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize is now open for entries, with an international judging panel comprising judges from each of the five Commonwealth regions: Zukiswa Wanner (Africa); Mahesh Rao (Asia); Jacqueline Baker (Canada and Europe), Jacob Ross (Caribbean) and Vilsoni Hereniko (Pacific).
The chair of this year’s panel is the novelist Kamila Shamsie, who is the author of six novels, including Burnt Shadows, which has been translated into more than 20 languages and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, and A God in Every Stone which was shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. “One of the pleasures of short stories is the potential for encountering both breadth and concentrated depth of writing over the space of just a few stories. In the case of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, the geographic range of the entrants, as well as the prize's track record of attracting extraordinary writing, turn…