Showing posts from October, 2011

Proverb Monday, #46

Proverb: Akokɔhwede da Firaw ho nso ɔdware mfuturo Meaning: The francolin lives near the Volta River, yet it bathes in the sand. Context: You may have plenty of something and yet not choose to use. No. 3324 in Bu me Bε by Peggy Appiah et al.

Call for entries: Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize

The Commonwealth Foundation has made the call for entries for the new Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The prizes are part of a new initiative,  Commonwealth Writers , an online hub to inspire, inform and create a community of writers from all over the world. Together with the prizes,  Commonwealth Writers  unearths, develops and promotes the best new fiction from across the Commonwealth. Awarded for best first book, the Commonwealth Book Prize is open to writers who have had their first novel (full length work of fiction) published between  1 January  and  31 December 2011 . Regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £10,000. The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2000-5000 words). Regional winners receive £1,000 and the overall winner receives £5,000. The winners will be announced in  June 2012 . Chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize, Margaret Busby said “The significance

Quotes for Friday from Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Weep Not, Child

My third reading of this book was for a Book Club discussion. The review here was written thirteen years after my last reading in 1998. Thus, I don't know whether I should review it again, now that the story is fresh in my mind or I should leave it just as it is. However, enjoy the quotes that came to me: ...[T]ime and bad conditions do not favour beauty. [3] 'Don't worry about me. Everything will be all right. Get education, I'll get carpentry. Then we shall, in the future, be able to have a new and better home for the whole family.' [4] A fool, in the town's vocabulary, meant a man who had a wife who would not let him leave her lap even for a second. [9] 'Blackness is not all that makes a man,' Kamau said bitterly. 'There are some people, be they black or white, who don't want others to rise above them. They want to be the source of all knowledge and share it piecemeal to others less endowed. ... A rich man does not want other

115. In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata by Lauri Kubuitsile

In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata first published as part of the The Bed Book of Short Stories  by Modjaji Books SA in 2010 was shortlisted for the 12th Caine Prize for African Short Stories in 2011 . It is also part of the Caine Prize anthology for 2011, To See the Mountain and other stories. When alive McPhineas Lata was a lover of married women. He was an expert in making women happy, sexually. In fact, he died having sex with another woman. This makes the husbands in the village of Nokanyana an angry and bitter lot. They were therefore glad that he was dead. Consequently, whereas the women were full of dramatic fainting and howls of grief echoing as far as the Ditlhako Hills the men were so much so happy that some carried their own shovels to the cemetery and when the time came to cover up the body, it was carried out in record time. But another problem remained a dead and buried McPhineas Lata didn't mean dead and buried McPhineas Lata memories . [emphasis not mine

114. The Trouble with Nigeria by Chinua Achebe

Title: The Trouble with Nigeria Author: Chinua Achebe Genre: Non-Fiction/Socio-Political Articles Publishers: Heinemann Pages: 68 Year of First Publication: 1983 Country: Nigeria Read for Amy's BAND The Trouble with Nigeria is a book of frustration of what could be termed as the Nigerian (African) Condition. In this book, Chinua Achebe spelt out, without playing around with proverbs, aphorisms, and such  curlicued manner of speech, the reasons why Nigeria, and perhaps most African countries, are facing such ginormous and seemingly unsurmountable developmental challenges. In 'Where the Problem Lies', the author specifically identified and attributed the problem. He writes  the problem with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. the Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the c

Proverb Monday, #45

Proverb: Akɔdaa hunu ne nsa hohoro a, ɔne mpninfoɔ didi. Meaning: If a child knows how to wash his hands, he eats with the elders. Context: If you act responsibly, you will share privileges. No. 3208 in Bu me Bε by Peggy Appiah et al.

113. What Molly Knew by Tim Keegan

Tim Keegan's What Molly Knew was shortlisted for the 12th Caine Prize for African Writing Prize in 2011 . It was part of the crime anthology 'Bad Company' published by Pan Macmillan SA in 2008. It has also been included in the Caine Prize for African Writing 2011 anthology To See the Mountain and other stories . What Molly Knew is a story that is difficult to define. It's is a crime story but not as we know the whodunit genre to be. Here the crime is not solved and the victim or the individual who stands to gain from exposing or getting the murder solved destroyed the only evidence involved; and the investigative part too is not shown. It is, however, a typical story whose plot could be predicted to a large extent once the characters and their associations or relationships with each other are known. Molly's is currently married to Rollo, after the death of her husband. Molly's daughter Sarah sees the step-father as an intruder, or so Molly thinks. T

Quotes for Friday from J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye

Anyway, it was December and all, and it was as cold as a witch's teat, especially the top of that stupid hill. [4] Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according to the rules. [8] Almost every time somebody gives me a present, it ends up making me sad. [52] That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. [73] I think I really like it best when you can kid the pants off a girl when the opportunity arises, but it's a funny thing. The girls I like best are the ones I never feel much like kidding. Sometimes I think they'd like it if you kidded them - in fact, I know they would - but it's hard to get started, once you've known them a pretty long time and never kidded them. [78] He's so good he's almost corny, in fact. I don't exactly know what

112. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Written in a conversational and informal tone, devoid of the refinedness that characterises first person narrative form,  The Catcher in the Rye (1945; 214) is a book that explores human behaviours and relationships, and the falsities that have clouded our daily lives, making us impostors or phonies of our true selves. It is this true self that Holden Caufield - a sixteen year old boy and son of a lawyer - sought after in a world of phonies, so that when people displayed outright deceit, refusing to be who they are or making others know what and how they are, he became physically affected. Caufield has just been thrown out of Pencey for flunking all his subjects. He had previously been thrown out of Whooton School and Elkton Hills for poor performance. But his parents, believing in the importance of education has always put him back into school whenever is thrown out. However, Holden Caufield's story is about his life told within the period of his journey from Pencey to his h

Julian Barnes, 2011 Man Booker Prize Winner

Julian Barnes has won the Man Booker Prize for 2011 with his book A Sense of Ending . It won from a shortlist of six including: Esi Edugyan's Half Blood Blues, Carlol Birch's Jamrach's Menagerie, Stephen Kelman's Pigeon English, which had a Ghanaian character named Opoku, AD Miller's Snowdrops and Patrick deWitt for Brothers Sisters. Though there had been several debates surrounding the shortlist with some describing it as a "dumbing down" and others establishing a new literature prize to rival The Man Booker for what in their view is the Booker's " now prioritises a notion of 'readability' over artistic achievement ", readers and followers of the award unanimously agreed on the winner. About Julian Barnes: Julian Barnes is the author of ten previous novels, three books of short stories and three collections of journalism. Now 65, his work has been translated into more than thirty languages. In France he is the only writer t

Ghana Voices Series: Elizabeth-Irene Baitie, Guest Writer for October

This month, we will be featuring Elizabeth Irene-Baitie, author of the novel, “The Twelfth Heart”, which won the first prize in the Burt Award for African Literature (Ghana) in 2010. Elizabeth-Irene Baitie is a Clinical Biochemist and runs a medical laboratory practice in Adabraka. She grew up in Ghana. She attended Achimota School, and has a degree in Biochemistry with Chemistry from the University of Ghana, Legon, as well as a postgraduate degree in Clinical Biochemistry from the University of Surrey in the UK. In 2002, her novel, “Lea’s Christmas”, was short-listed for the Macmillan Writers Prize for Africa (Senior readers). Four years later, her children’s story, “A Saint in Brown Sandals”, won the Macmillan Prize for Africa (Junior readers). She has just finished another novel for young adult readers which will be published next year. Elizabeth will be reading from her novel, “The Twelfth Heart”, which tells the story of fifteen year old Mercy, in boarding school for the f

Library Additions

Unexpectedly, and perhaps as a sign of appreciation - am I beating my own chest here? - of what I've been doing on this blog, several individuals - both far and near - have gifted me with books. I have already talked of those I received from Martin and Geosi . For me, as a reader, the best gift one can give me, and which I'm bound to always talk about, is books. I love them. My wife keeps saying that it seems my books come first, though it only SEEMS so. Okay, so I've received several books within the past month, which I want to share with you. From Martin: Martin had already given me these books . He also left these books at our fortnightly meeting place for me to pick up: I Write What I like by Steve Biko . I had already purchased a copy of this book. However, his has a different foreword and clearly more spacious and well-trimmed texts that doesn't look like the ink soaked the paper. Steve Biko is a black South Africa political activist during the apart

Proverb Monday, #44

Proverb: Kasu ne kagya nni aseda Meaning: Say-and-weep and promise-and-fail, have no thanks Context: You don't thank the one who has hurt you or is indifferent to your feelings. No. 3048 in Bu me Bε by Peggy Appiah et al.

Quotes for Friday from Tsitsi Dangarembga's The Book of Not

I couldn't mark enough passages, paragraphs and or sentences from this book; there are a lot of interesting lines though. The following were the few I was able to mark or the few that spoke to me when I had my pencil with me. So I went on planning my life while life was planning an insurgence. [27] Or was it merely the fury of a vicious spirit at those enduring containments that define different beauties which made some people tear off other people's extremities? [97] Could anyone bear a brother or sister going off and killing people because they looked like this and not like that, singing all sorts of hideous songs about smashing in their heads! [97] 'Order,' ... 'belongs to a lower class of mind. In fact, a lack of randomness denotes an abysmal spirit.' [133] The perpetual rage was unbearable for me. I considered myself a moral person. In fact, as a moral woman I did not intend to harbour such uncharitable, above all, angry, emotions. To e

111. The Book of Not by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Title: The Book of Not Author: Tsitsi Dangarembga Genre: Fiction/Socio-Political Publisher: Ayebia-Clarke Pages: 250 Year of First Publication: 2006 Country: Zimbabwe Tsitsi Dangarembga 's The Book of Not  is a sequel to Nervous Conditions . It continues Tambu's story as she begins her life at Sacred Heart school, hoping to improve her lot through education. In this sequel, there is a slight change in narrative structure; perhaps to reflect Tambu's growth and education though this also made the reading somewhat tedious, in the beginning and at some places, as it looks very refined, even though the story was written in the first person narrative. But some places are conversational, where the author addresses the reader directly. If Nervous Conditions   is a colonial story or set in a colonial period with less emphasis on political activity and more on the social connections, taboos, and traditions,  The Book of Not  is this and more. The more is in its

Library Additions

Most of the books I have reported on (or received) lately, with the exception of one or two titles, do not fit the vision and mission of this blog, so that if I should review them in that order, people will begin to question my tagline Promoting African Literature.  To keep true to my vision, whilst fulfilling my challenges and reading aspirations, I hit the bookshop to restock my depleting African titles. Death and the King's Horseman by Wole Soyinka . This book is on my Top 100 Books Reading Challenge. It has also been read for Amy's Nigeria Independence Day Reading/Reviewing Challenge . The Trouble with Nigeria by Chinua Achebe . This slim book of essays was purchased with Amy's Bloggers Alliance for Non-Fiction Devotees (BAND) in mind. I want to use this group/challenge to read a lot of non-fiction. Madmen and Specialists by Wole Soyinka . This is another of the Nobel Laureate's play.  Burning Grass by Cyprian Ekwensi . I have heard a lot about his Jagu

Proverb Monday, #43

Proverb: Kora a εda nsuo mu nsuro awɔ Meaning: A Calabash lying in the water, does not fear the cold. Context: If you are already in trouble, you don't fear it. No. 943 in Bu me Bε by Peggy Appiah et al.

Quotes for Friday from Wole Soyinka's Death and the King's Horseman (II)

Continuation from last weeks quotes cum proverbs. [W]hen the elephant heads for the jungle, the tail is too small a handhold for the hunter that would pull him back. The sun that heads for the sea no longer heeds the prayers of the farmer. When the river begins to taste the salt of the ocean, we no longer know what deity to call on, the river-god or Olokun. No arrow flies back to the string, the child does not return through the same passage that gave it birth. A dog does not outrun the hand that feeds it meat. A horse that throws its rider slows down to a stop. The river is never so hight that the eyes of a fish are covered.  The night is not so dark that the albino fails to find his way. It is the death of war that kills the valiant, death of water is how the swimmer goes, it is the death of markets that kills the trader and death of indecision takes the idle away. The trade of the cutlass blunts its edge and the beautiful die the death of beauty.

Tomas Tranströmer of Sweden wins Nobel Laureate in Literature

Swedish author Tomas Tranströmer has been announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. According to the  Nobel website ,  Tomas Tranströmer was awarded because   because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.  Read more here .  Born on April 15, 1931,  Tranströmer  is a "Swedish writer, poet and translator, whose poetry has been deeply influential in Sweden, as well as around the world." (Wikipedia) His probability of winning the award was perfectly predicted by  ladbrokes , who pegged him at 4/1 odds winning over Bob Dylan at 5/1. He is considered as a hometown favourite. According to the announcement,  Tranströmer was a full-time psychologists who found time to write. With some of his books having been translated into English, I expect some of you might have read him. Anyone? ________________________ Earlier there was a hoax from a similarly designed site that Dobrica Cosic has won. This post has been rem

The New Face of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and Short Story Competition

The Commonwealth Foundation are (have) reviewed the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Short Story Competition. Commonwealth Book Prize Awarded for best first book, this prize is open to writers who have had their first novel (full length work of fiction) published in 2011. Regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £10,000.  Both prizes will aim to unearth new writers from across the Commonwealth, with the Writers' Prize giving awards for the best first book only. The prizes will also be complemented by a series of outreach activities in identified countries in order to support aspiring writers. Thus, unlike previous years when awards were given to both best first book and first book, the new look will only consider 'best first book.' Commonwealth Short Story Prize Awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction. Regional winners receive £1,000 and the overall winner receives £5,000. The new look prizes will be launched in O

Library Additions

By some strange coincidences, I have been offered a lot of books for the past month. Geosi of Geosi Reads has given me a pack of Booker-Winning books to help me achieve my Top 100 Books Reading Challenge . Some of the books are not on the list but are on the authors to be read list, which is not - in essence - a challenge but one that guides me in my purchases. Life of Pi by Yann Martel . This books is on my Top 100 Books Reading Challenge . Apart from being a winner of the Booker, I was drawn to this book by the word 'Pi'. I had always imagined it to have something to do with mathematics or at least geometry, until I read the review some time ago. Yet, I still think of the book in such realm. Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre . This was a late addition to the Top 100 Books Reading Challenge. This book replaced V.S. Naipaul's In a Free State.   The Famished Road by Ben Okri . A friend sent this book to me but a mistake in the postal address ensured that the book nev

Proverb Monday, #42

Proverb: Kora a abɔ nsa nsa Meaning: A calabash that is cracked can't collect palm Context: If you are sick, you can't work properly. No. 3513 in Bu me Bε by Peggy Appiah et al.

September in Review, Projections for October

September wasn't a bad month for reading, though I encountered several hitches and have not read a word in three days. I set out to read four books and four single stories (Caine Prize Shortlist). Books projected to be read included: The Shadow Catcher , The Book of Not, A Grain of Wheat, and  Excursions in My Mind. Some of the projected books were read others were not: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. I began this book in late September. This is the third in the Robert Langdon's series. It follows Robert Langdon as he fights his way to save his friend Peter Solomon whilst protecting the Mason's pyramid from destruction by Mal'akh. Similar to the others, this book is full of codes and cliffhangers. A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi wa Thiong'o. This colonial literature traces events that occurred a few days to Kenya's independence day. It also predicts the disaffection that would later befall the real freedom fighters. Read for the Top 100 Books Reading Challenge

110. Death and the King's Horseman by Wole Soyinka

Title: Death and the King's Horseman Author: Wole Soyinka Genre: Play/Tragedy Publishers: Spectrum Books Limited Pages: 77 Year of First Publication: 1975 Country: Nigeria For   Amy's Nigeria Independence Day Reading/Reviewing Project and for the Top 100 Books Reading Challenge . Death and the King's Horseman is one of Soyinka's best known plays. Voted as one of Africa's Best Books of the Twentieth Century, it has been more admired than it has been performed , according to a 2009 Guardian article. This play, according to the Author's Note, 'is based on real events which took place in Oyo, ancient Yoruba city of Nigeria, in 1946', though certain changes have been made in 'matters of detail, sequence and ... characterisation [and the setting taking back] two or three years... for minor reasons of dramaturgy.' An important note, before present readers make the same mistake, sounded by the author was that this work should not be