Showing posts from April, 2011

April in Review, Projections for May

Traffic received by this blog in April was relatively low compared to the last three months, though I don't trust blogger's stats tab where number of times a page has been viewed keep decreasing. In terms of reading I read five novels with a total of 920 pages on a variety of genres: biography/autobiography, poetry and full-length novels. On the interview front, I interviewed no one. Or specifically I did not receive responses from some of the interview I sent out. The following are the books read and the links to them: Mine Boy by Peter Abrahams . I read this book for the Top 100 Reading Challenge . A very interesting novel that vividly projects the plight of native South Africans right before the official institution of apartheid. We observe the struggle of the natives and what they have to fight against daily to survive through the eyes of a rural-urban emigre, Xuma. Purple Violet of Oshaantu by Neshani Andreas . This was read for the Africa Reading Challenge . This no

Library Additions

The last time I posted on books I have acquired was exactly a month ago, on March 29. Of the four books I acquired then, I have read only one: Accra! Accra! More Poems about Modern Afrikans . However, as all readers or particularly bibliophiles know, we acquire books faster than we read them. If not we would be in deficit. Over the past month, I have been lucky to have come into some number of books through a combination of gifts and purchase. When I read Pride and Prejudice , I showed my love for that book and for Jane Austen as a writer. I also made my intentions known that I would love to read her books. This week I received three packages of three books per package from Amy of Amy Reads and guess what? Four of them were Jane Austens. Yes! Thanks Amy of such a kind gesture. The following are the books I received from Amy: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen . This one of the books I received from Amy. Jane Austen is on my author to read. She makes me understand the past and how

Quotes for Friday from Jose Eduardo Agualusa's The Book of Chameleons

Today's quotes come from a book I reviewed yesterday The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa . This is a wonderful novel and definitely novel in its approach. I have been told that his Rainy Season is a great novel. I would search for that. He was an unpleasant sort of character, professionally indignant, who'd built up his whole career abroad, selling our national horrors to European readers. Misery does ever so well in wealthy countries. (Page 68) "In your novels do you lie deliberately  or just out of ignorance?"... "I'm a liar by vocation," he shouted. "I lie with joy! Literature is the only chance for a true liar to attain any sort of social acceptance." (Page 68) [T]he principal difference between a dictatorship and a democracy is that in the former there exists only one truth, the truth as imposed by power, while in free countries every man has the right to defend his own version of events. (Page 68) Truth is superstition. (

77. The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa

Title: The Book of Chameleons Author: Jose Eduardo Agualusa Translator: Daniel Hahn Original Language: Portuguese Genre: Novel/Mystery Publishers: Simon and Schuster Pages: 180 Year of Publication: 2004 (English, 2006) Country: Angola For the Africa Reading Challenge In this totally experimental and unique book, Jose Eduardo Agualusa tells the story of a murder as narrated, in the first person, by a wall gecko. The story involves an albino by name of Felix Ventura, who sells memories to people and help construct people's past, Angela Lucia, a lady who had suddenly become friends with Felix, a foreigner later to be called Jose Bachmann (but actually named Pedro Gouvei) and a wall gecko - a reincarnation of Jorge Luis Borges (according to the author). The gecko, which shares dreams with its master (house owner), tells of what this master, Felix Ventura does; how Felix deals with the reconstruction of people's past and most of his clients are people

76. Accra! Accra! More Poems About Modern Afrikans by Papa Kobina Ulzen

Title: Accra! Accra! More Poems About Modern Afrikans Author: Papa Kobina Ulzen Genre: Poetry Pages: 28 Publisher: Edward Ulzen Year of Publication: 2011 Country: Ghana At a mere 28 pages, this chapbook manages to pack a lot of within its pages. Whether questioning the reasons why we are still bound in chains, even though our prisoners left many years ago, or questioning his own father for some of the decisions he made - especially why he divorced his mother - or even reminiscing about all the places he has lived, the poems are poignant and straightforward, devoid of the elaborateness and the curlicue phrases common to most poems. Here the reader need not to conjure deeper thoughts to understand the theme or fall in love with the text. All that is required is a ready and prejudice-less mind. The collection begins with 'Kyekyewere' which is a small village about 70km outside Accra. Here the author reminisces a voluntary work he carried out to help construct

75. The Purple Violet of Oshaantu by Neshani Andreas

Title: The Purple Violet of Oshaantu Author: Neshani Andreas Genre: Novel/Rural Publishers: Heinemann (African Writers Series) Year of Publication: 2001 Country: Namibia For the African Reading Challenge The Purple Violet of Oshaantu is a novel that catalogues everything that is absolutely wrong in marriage: extramarital affair, domestic abuse, disrespect, disinheritance, widow-molestation, superstition, economic destitution, and more. Told by Mee Ali, whose marriage is perfect and exemplary, we follow her observations of the marriage life of her friend Kauna, who at the beginning of her marriage to Shange was considered as beautiful as the Purple Violet flower that grows in Oshaantu. However, everything went sour when Shange took on a mistress and began spending his nights away from home. Kauna became lonely, physically and emotionally distressed. She lost respect in the community because her women friends blame her for allowing her husband to leave her for another

Picture Speaks: At the Launch of Kofi Akpabli's Humorous Travelogue, A Sense of Savannah - Tales of a Friendly Walk Through Northern Ghana

The second Picture Speaks in the past two yeas features a shot from the launch of Kofi Akpali 's humorous travelogue: Sense of Savannah, Tales of a Friendly Walk through Northern Ghana . In the Middle is M. K. B. Asante, a renowned Diplomat and Statesman, followed by the author Kofi Akpabli (in spectacles). The Book was launched at the National Theatre on March 31, 2011 and copies are currently available at all Bookshops in Ghana: Silverbird, Legon Bookshop etc.

74. Mine Boy by Peter Abrahams

Title: Mine Boy Author: Peter Abrahams Genre: Novel/Race/Love Publishers: Heinemann (African Writers Series) Year of Publication: 1946 (this edition, 1989) Country: South Africa For the Top 100 Books Challenge 'You say you understand,' Xuma said, 'but how can you? You are a white man. You do not carry a pass. You do not know how it feels to be stopped by a policeman in the street. You go where you like. You do not know how it feels when they say "Get out! White people only." Did your woman leave you because she is mad with wanting the same things the white man has? ... That is understanding. The understanding of the heart and the pain of understanding, not just the head and lips. I feel things! You want me to be your friend. How can I be your friend when your people do this to me and my people?' (Page 172)   And this serves as my summary of the novel Mine Boy, a story about love and race published two years before the official implementation of ap

Proverb Monday

Proverb: Aserewa su agyenkuku su a, ne mene mu pae Transliteration: If the sunbird sings the song of the dove, its throat bursts. Usage: If you try and imitate someone more talented than yourself or more important, you will only damage yourself. in Bu me Bε by Peggy Appiah et al.

Reading or being Read to: Choice between Audio and Visual Books

I have rejected all audio books I have been offered. I am always scared that I would lose something if I listened to the book instead of reading it. I know there are those whose only choice is to listen. However, if you have the choice which one would you choose: audio or visual? If you have ever listened to an audio book what made you choose it? How would you compare a book you have read and one you have listened to? Also there are words writers italicise or put between inverted commas to create a different meaning or effect - sometimes for humour or for emphasis. How are these carried out in audio readings. Besides, we all have different voices, mental or vocal, how do you cope with other people's voice or follow completely for meaning.

Quotes for Friday from Peter Abrahams' Mine Boy

Today's Friday Quotes come from a book I would be reviewing next week. Usually, I review before the quote but I have been slow in my reading for some time now and so do not have an already read book to quote from. Mine Boy  by Peter Abrahams is described as the first modern novel of black South Africa. This is also the first novel I have read by a black South African. Note that it was published in 1946, two years before the institution of apartheid in 1948. I am no good and I cannot help myself. It will be right if you hate me. You should beat me. But inside me there is something wrong. And it is because I want the things of the white people. I want to be like the white people and go where they go and do the things they do and I am black. I cannot help it. Inside I am not black and I do not want to be a black person. (Page 60) The only place where he was completely free was underground in the mines. There he was a master and knew his way. There he did not even fear his white man,

New Poetry Anthologies from Ghana and Zimbabwe

Look Where You Have Gone to Sit (Edited by Martin Egblewogbe and Laban Carrick Hill) The Writers Project of Ghana has released the first of a series of anthologies titled Look Where You have Gone to Sit.  Edited by Martin Egblewogbe and Laban Carrick Hill and published by Woeli Publishing Services in Accra, Look Where You have Gone to Sit  features the work of nineteen new writers, presenting exciting writings across different themes. Writers Project of Ghana intends to continue its efforts to put out more anthologies of Ghanaian writing; consequently, there will be a launch for the next anthologies for 2011 later this year, one for poetry and another for short stories. Copies of this anthology would be available in all bookstores soon, so keep looking. I have a poem, Finding My Voice , in this anthology. For more information contact Together by Julius Chingono and John Eppels Co-published by 'amaBooks (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe), University of KwaZulu-Nala P

Chimamanda Adichie: Dangers of a Single Story

Ever since I listened to Chimamanda 's Dangers of a Single Story , I have mentioned and referred to it several times. I refer to it any time people try to stereotype others; anytime people try to define others using lexical and imagistic  clichés . However, due to the recent upsurge in negative reportage from mainstream media, such as CNN  - which are suppose to know best - and smaller outlets like  motherboard , I think it is high time I posted it here on my blog, rather than referring people to it, which I am not certain they would actually open it. Some colleague bloggers, Obed Sarpong and Edward Tagoe , have responded to this reportage. The story has several inaccuracies but these had already been pointed out by these two bloggers. I would want to tackle the mere idea of leaving ones country with a prejudiced mind to have confirmed what one has heard and seen much too often on the news and in the newspapers. To do this, I would kindly employ, at least virtually, the author of

The Orange Prize for Fiction 2011 Shortlist

The Orange Prize for Fiction has announced its shortlist for the 2011 prize. From the long-list of 20 books written by women, the shortlist is made up of 6 books from different parts of the world. The number of African women authors have also dropped from 3 to 1: The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna. Below is the list: Room by  Emma Donoghue  The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma Henderson Great House by Nicole Krauss The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht Annabel by Kathleen Winter Click here for the full announcement . We wish Aminatta Forna well in this award.

Ayi Kwei Armah featuring The Invasion of Africa Part Two

Some have described Ayi Kwei Armah as an alienated figure. Some have described some of his books as sick. Others say it is impregnable and woody. Yet, no one has questioned his intelligence. If there is any writer whose works are as important today as they were when they were published, if there be any writer whose words rang through in the fourteenth century and ring true in the twenty-first century; if there be such a writer then it definitely IS Ayi Kwei Armah. From The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born  to The Healers  - sticking to those I have read - the themes he speaks about still prevail. Yesterday, we were told that French Forces have arrested Laurent Gbagbo and most Africans went gay just as the West went gay. To most Africans, the Devil has been caught by the forces. Note that France and the UN has tried dissociating themselves from the arrest though most news channels, including the initial report from the BBC, reported that this infamous arrest was led by the French Spec

Glen Retief: Homoeroticism and the Failure of African Nationalism in Ayi Kwei Armah's The Beautyful Ones

I am not a 'formal' student of Literature. In fact I cannot, in no other way, call myself a student of Literature, formal or informal for I read novels to enjoy them first, reflect on the second and connect the dots later. These latter two always occur way after the novels have been read. Sometimes months or even years. In fact I still think about novels I read as far back as 2005. Hence, I am the last person to make a critique, academically, a novel or even read research articles based on literary writings. I am scared. My training is in Agricultural Economics and I stay with it. However, I was browsing the net and accidentally found this article. Because I have not access to the main article I could only read the abstracts. From what I could glean from the abstract, Ayi Kwei Armah 's Novel The Beautyful Ones are Not yet Born , is a subtle or subliminal way of telling Africans to embrace same-sex desire and human rights for sexual minorities. The Abstract: Building on the

Proverb Monday

Proverb: ɔdεnkyεm ne pitire na εda, nso ɔfom no a, ɔka no. Translation: The crocodile and the catfish sleep together, but when the latter offends the crocodile (literally, if it offends it), it bites it. Usage: Living together does not mean you will always agree. This proverb is similar to one which when translated reads: even the teeth and the tongue do quarrel. No. 1802 in Bu me Bε by Peggy Appiah et al.

What do You Look for in Your Reading

What do you look for in your read? Is it plot, theme, message or the characters? Or even the setting? What is it that makes you love a book, fiction or non-fiction? Some books are heavy on plot others are filled with beautiful prose. Those that have both are read again and again. If given the chance to choose a book that you would read on your death bed, which book would it be?

Quotes for Friday from Toni Morrison's Beloved

There are some beautiful quotes in Beloved . In fact the whole novel, baring its length, is quotable. Just open to any portion and you would encounter some fine reading. Enjoy the following: 124 was spiteful. Full of a baby's venom. (Page 3) My first-born. All I can remember of her is how she loved the burned bottom of bread. Can you beat that? Eight children and that's all I remember. (Page 5) If a Negro got legs he ought to use them. Sit down too long, somebody will figure out a way to tie them up. (Page 10) To Sethe the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay (Page 41) ...they killed the flirt whom folks called Life for leading them on. Making them think the next sunrise would be worth it; that another stroke of time would do it last. Only when she was dead would they be safe. The successful ones - the ones who had been there enough years to have maimed, mutilated, maybe even buried her - kept watch over the others who were still in her cock-t

73. Beloved by Toni Morrison

In Beloved (1987) Toni Morrison expanded the possibilities of the fiction genre from that which she created in Song of Solomon . She redefined the boundaries, broadening the horizon so as to write a story of stellar attribute with depth, passion, and a sensibility no other writer can express except Morrison. It is as if the words, scenes, sentences, speech and sense-making were being drawn from a well she only could see the bottom. In this novel, different writing styles merged, swirled and that which came forth was of a uniform consistency that bespeak a master artist. For instead of the different writing styles veering the reader off the course, jarring his mind, throwing him here and there till he dizzied, they supported each other, strengthened the storyline and conveyed the essence of the write to the reader. As a mix of omniscient narratives, point-of-view narratives from different characters and first person narratives, with the pendulum swinging between the past and

Myne Whitman's Second Novel, A Love Rekindled

Myne Whitman , the popular Nigerian author whose debut novel, A Heart to Mend , received great reviews and praise, has released her second novel titled A Love Rekindled . Over the years Myne has established herself as a writer of love stories; in this way she is filling a gap in the literary culture of Nigeria and Africa as a whole. And even though she wouldn't consider herself as an avant-garde in this genre, her vision is to remain in it and become a foremost brand name, a worthy aspiration and an achievable one coming from one who has read Mills and Boon and has been influenced by a wide variety of writers both home and abroad including the likes of Cyprian Ekwensi, Flora Nwapa, Buchi Emecheta , Chinua Achebe , Barbara Cartland, Francine Rivers, and recently, Chimamanda Adichie . From the Blurb: Efe returns to Nigeria after years in the United States, dreaming of an uncomplicated life. However, her nights become plagued by nightmares of Kevwe Mukoro, her ex-fiancé. Long hours