Showing posts from January, 2012

132. As The Crow Flies by Veronique Tadjo

Title: As the Crow Flies Author: Veronique Tadjo Translator: Wangui wa Goro Original Language: French Publishers: Heinemann (AWS) Pages: 104 Year of First Publication: 2001 Country: Cote d'Ivoire Read for the African Reading Challenge As the Crow Flies is a love story of some sorts. The story is a cascade of individual stories capable of standing on their own as shown by one thread which was published under the title Betrayal  in the Opening Spaces  edited by Yvonne Vera. The story opens with a woman whose husband also has a wife. Initially, she was happy; her heart was filled with joy. Then things began to change and she was not happy anymore. There was a detachment, somewhat. And she applied for a divorce. The coming of this woman, from abroad, to meet this man interspersed several sections of the story. Thus, as if the story is diverting from some course, which it always did, then suddenly the woman at an airport comes up.  From this somewhat love

131. SHORT STORY MONDAY: Hitting Budapest by NoViolet Bulawayo

Hitting Budapest is the winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2011. The story is about five young girls, mostly pre-teen, moving from their shanty town of Paradise to the estates of Budapest in search of guavas and anything that matter. As they make their journey towards Budapest they converse as all children do. It is through this that we get to know that Chipo, a girl of ten years, has been impregnated by her grandfather. At Budapest they met a white woman of 33 years who had just come from London, eating ice-cream. They looked longingly at this ice-cream only for her to throw what is left of it into the dustbin and take a picture of them. On their way back they shared their dreams with each other: to travel to America, get big houses and cars. Whereas IMF is a street at Budapest, AU is a street at Paradise, the shanty town. Back at Paradise, the children went to ease themselves in the bush where they saw a woman dangling from a rope - a possible suicide. The c

NEW PUBLICATION: Birds of Our Land and Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away

This year Cassava Republic has two new titles: The first is a children's guide to West African birds called  Birds of Our Land , by Virginia Dike. The book aims to introduce Nigerian children to 25 birds representing the major species in the region. Through rich, poetic descriptions, it explains the basic features of these birds and includes key things to note in observing them. It is also richly illustrated with beautiful paintings by artist Robin Gowen. We believe this book is more than a great read, it is the perfect tool for parents and educators to encourage children to spend more time exploring nature. Virginia Dike is a professor and head of the Department of Library and Information Science at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and is also a founding member of The Children's Centre Library at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka. Our second book is the haunting novel,  Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away ,  by Christie Watson. Winner of the 2011 Costa Award for First N

Quotes for Friday from William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!

Years ago we in the South made our women into ladies. Then the War came and made the ladies into ghosts. So what else can we do, being gentlemen, but listen to them being ghosts? [10] Maybe you have to know anybody awful well to love them but when you have hated somebody for forty-three years you will know them awful well so maybe it's better then may be it's fine then because after forty-three years they can't any longer surprise you or make you either very contented or very mad. [12] Ellen: blind romantic fool who had only youth and inexperience to excuse her even if that; blind romantic fool, then later blind woman mother fool when she no longer had either youth or inexperience to excuse her, when she lay dying in that house for which she had exchanged pride and peace both and nobody there but the daughter who was already the same as a widow without ever having been a bride ... [13] In church, mind you, as though there were a fatality and curse on our family

130. Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner

Absalom, Absalom!*  (Vintage, 1936; 485) is a story of how a singular decision made by a poor boy, at a time when he was too young to understand anything, caused so much devastation to him and the people around him. The story follows from when that decision, and later others, was made and their effects through the generations, beginning from 1820 when the first malevolent seed was sown to 1910 when the last bitter fruit was harvested, or crushed. Thomas Sutpen appeared suddenly in Yoknapatawpha County. A strange man with strange looks, strange behaviour, strange language, and nigger followers. A man with an unknown past. A man who at fourteen made a decision, after he had been turned away from a big white house by a nigger who wears nice clothes, to create his own future wherein lies a big white house, niggers, and nobility. Sutpen was to acquire a hundred-square miles land from an Indian community through a process no one knew or could conjecture. Then he set forth to build

129. SHORT STORY MONDAY: Philipp Meyer and Rivka Galchen

 These two stories were taken from The New Yorker June 14 & 21, 2010. What You Do Out Here, When You're Alone by Philipp Meyer Max and Lilli had moved from their modest home in Huntsville to a plush neighbourhood in Oaksville. Unlike Huntsville, they were almost unknown in Oaksville, uninvited to parties and were living under the shadows of the teeming 'filthy' rich. Their new neighbourhood was the place where one could be 'sued for painting [his] mailbox the wrong color, for putting up the wrong fence, for installation of unapproved rooting materials...' But Max was not happy for several reasons. Not because his Porsche business was bad, for he was the 'best Porsche mechanic in Texas, the entire Southwest, if he was hones', in fact business was good and could even do favours for those who could not afford his services. Max was not happy because of Lilli, through whose boss at Goliad Associates, th

When the Vice President of Ghana Writes

The only Ghanaian president I know of who wrote was Kwame Nkrumah. Much has been said, and on this blog too, about the importance of Nkrumah's writings. This is a man who shared his vision, his aspirations and more about our world through his writings. When leaders show interest in reading and writing it tends to have a trickle down effect. I read Obama's Dreams from my Father when he decided to come to Ghana. I have not as yet got a copy of Bush's Decision Point and I have Jimmy Carter's  Our Endangered Values. In fact, I read how the Obamas went to a small bookshop on Small Business Saturday to buy books for his children. Whereas in the US and elsewhere past presidents spends quality time to write and share with the people their lives before, during, and after office and what made them take certain decisions, it is not so in Ghana. In Ghana, other people writes about them. A memoir that is not written by the person himself still lacks something even if it is an au

Two More Challenges Added: Africa Reading Challenge and The 2012 Chunkster Challenge

I have already blogged on the challenges I would be participating in this year. Most of my challenges have been self developed and I hardly join in other challenges except the Ghanaian Literature Week and the Nigerian Independence Book Reading Challenge hosted by Kinna and Amy respectively. This year, I am taking a step away from my comfort zone and participating, formally, in external reading challenges whilst making sure that all books I read also meet other reading challenges such as the Top 100 Books Reading Challenge.   AFRICA LITERATURE READING CHALLENGE When I blogged about my challenges for this year, I mentioned the Africa Reading Challenge to be hosted by Kinna . After days of deliberation, Kinna has finally put up the rules for this challenge. The rules are simple. The reader is supposed to have fun and get to explore Africa. He/She at the end would have actually visited several African countries through books. The rules are: REGION: The entire African contine

Quotes for Friday from Steve Biko's I Write What I Like

Nowhere is the arrogance of the liberal ideology demonstrated so well as in their insistence that the problems of the country can only be solved by a bilateral approach involving both black and white. [21] At the heart of true integration is the provision for each man, each group to rise and attain the envisioned self. Each group must be able to attain its style of existence without encroaching on or being thwarted by another. Out of this mutual respect for each other and complete freedom of self-determination there will obviously arise a genuine fusion of the lifestyles of the various groups. This is true integration. [22] As a testimony to their claim of complete identification with blacks, they call a few 'intelligent and articulate' blacks to 'come around for tea at home', where all present ask each other the same old hackneyed question 'how can we bring about change in South Africa?' The more such tea-parties one call the more of a liberal he is an

128. I Write What I Like by Steve Biko

Title: I Write What I Like Author: Steve Biko Genre: Non-Fiction/Essays/Letters Publishers: Picador Africa Pages: 244 Year of First Publication: 1978 Country: South Africa On January 8, 2012, the African National Congress, the ruling party of South Africa marked its centenary and to celebrate that I decided to read this book. Though Steve Biko ran parallel organisations, The Black Conscious Movement, which was basically to empower blacks to stand for themselves and fight for what they believe in and its political wing the Black Peoples Convention, he has come to symbolise the South Africa's fight against the barbaric and inhuman attitudes meted by the white minority, Boers and even in his writings recognised the ANC has the main group for the old guards like Mandela, Sisulu and others. Thus, instead of talking about Mandela, who is already known, I chose to talk about Steve Biko. I Write What I Like is a compendium of articles, essays, letters and memoranda

127. SHORT STORY MONDAY: The Mistress's Dog by David Medalie

David Medalie's story, The Mistress's Dog , should have been read last year as part of the Caine Prize Shortlist 2009 to 2011 Reading Challenge. I carried it with me but never came around to reading it, perhaps preferring to read the books rather than the single stories or perhaps discouraged by seeming bad taste that I found most of the Caine Prize Shortlist. If any of these was the reason why I failed to complete that challenge last year, then I should have persevered since this is a quite different and hilarious story. The Mistress's Dog  was shortlisted for the 12th Caine Prize for African Writing in 2011 and was included in the Caine Prize for African Writing anthology To See the Mountain and other stories  (2011). However, it was first published in The Mistress's Dog and other stories (1996 - 2010) . The dog had outlived its owner, The Mistress, and was now in the care of Nola. In fact, it had outlived the two individuals who made Nola's life silent

Quotes for Friday from Nadine Gordimer's The Conservationist

The fact is that ll this softness is the result of smoke; particles of smoke that hang in the still winter air; smoke from that location that lies between the farm and city. It's a cataract over the fierce eye of the sun; it's even possible, some days, to look straight at the sun as if you are staring at the prism deep in the under-water radiance of a star sapphire. [78] To keep anything the way you like it for yourself you have to have the stomach to ignore - dead and hidden - whatever intrudes. Those for whom life is cheapest recognise that. [79] - Oh, compassion's like masturbation. Doesn't do anyone else any harm, and if it makes you feel better ... [98] - I really don't know why I do. But don't you find the people it's most difficult to make confidences to are the ones who are closest to you? In fact confession is best made to complete strangers. Somebody who gets talking to you on a journey. It's easier with someone you don't know

126. The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer

Title: The Conservationist Author: Nadine Gordimer Genre: Fiction/Race Publishers: Penguin Books Pages: 267 Year of First Publication: 1974 Country: South Africa Mehring is rich, divorced and somewhat frustrated and, though he has a lot of highly-placed friends, he feels alienated. He also deals in pig-iron, so he doesn't classify himself as part of the oppressors regarding the use of cheap black labour in the mines. But Mehring has a farm as most rich South Africans do. In the context and setting of the story, rich is synonymous to white. Though Mehring has a farm, he does not run it for profit. He sees the farm as a place to escape to from the city and he knows nothing about farming so that blacks like Jacobus and Solomon and others are the ones who run the farm and these individuals were living on the land before it was purchased from the previous owner. One day, the body of a black man was found on the farm. Mehring was called and he in turn called the po