African book news this week. South African Takes Second in BBC International
Short Story Award.
South African novelist and Caine Prize winner, Henrietta Rose-Innes was judged runner-up in the just ended BBC International Short Story Award with her haunting story “Sanctuary”.
For the first and only time in the history of the prize, the BBC opened up submissions to anyone in the world who has a publishing history in the United Kingdom in recognition of the hosting of the Olympics in London. Normally the prize is restricted to UK citizens only.
Rose-Innes won 2500 British Pounds. The description of the story on BBC Radio 4 website is-
“Henrietta Rose-Innes’s tale about how a woman’s trip back to an old childhood haunt in the South African bush becomes fraught with tension when she realises she is not holidaying alone.”
You can listen to the story on their website here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/ b01mqq6t.
(If you want to learn about how to build tension in your writing, this story is a fantastic place to start.)
The fi rst place winner was the Bulgarian writer Miroslav Penkon with his story titled “East of the West”. He won 15,000 British pounds.
Namibia to Hold its First Ever Youth Book Fair
From the 26-29th of October, Windhoek will be hosting the fi rst ever Namibian Youth Book Fair.
It’s a collaboration between the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC), Goethe Zentrum Windhoek (GZ) and Yambeka Children Media,
with additional funding from Fonds Franco- Allemand, a French-German Cultural Fund.
The goals of the Fair include recognising the importance of reading and writing to children and their education and development and to try to resuscitate a reading culture in children and the youth.
Included in the programme is a two day writing workshop to teach budding writers how to write for children.
Chinua Achebe Releases Book About Baifrin War
Chinua Achebe, author of Things Fall Apart, has released a memoir about one of the most painful times in Nigeria’s history, the three years of the Biafran War.
Up until now, Achebe has been quiet on this stark period of his country’s history but has included it in this memoir.
The 81 year old author’s memoir, There Was a Country, was released in UK and will soon be released in Nigeria and USA.
Allen Lane, Achebe’s UK publisher, told the BBC about the memoir, “It relates Nigeria’s birth pangs in the context of Achebe’s own development as a man and a writer,
and examines the role of the artist in times of war.” More than one million people died during the war from the fighting and from famine, especially in Biafra.
Achebe is probably best known for his book, Things Fall Apart, which has sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into fifty languages.
He currently lives in the United States after a car accident which left him disabled.
Ethiopian Born Writer Wins a “Genius Grant”
Ethiopian born author Dinaw Mengestu is among this year’s winners of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grants, commonly referred to as a “genius grant”.
It is a cash prize of $500,000 (USD) spread over five years given to “United States citizens or residents, of any age and working in any field,
who show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work”.
The unique thing about this grant is that it has no strings attached.
The recipient must use the money as they see fit so as to give them the space to continue on their creative path.
Dinaw Mengestu is the author of the novels Children of the Revolution and How to Read the Air.
African Book Festival to Take Place in London
The African Book Festival will be taking place on the 26th and 27th of October at the Free Word Centre in London.
The Festival seeks to celebrate the diversity in literature coming from the continent, often books not normally found in bookstores in London.
It is run by two Ghanaians, childhood friends, Will Essilfi e and Nii Ayikwei Parkes.
Their goals as spelled out on the website include this: “While we want to showcase writing from Africa,
we essentially want to celebrate the publishers and editors who have worked to put literature from Africa into print.
We also seek to fill the gap between the books published and the books that make it onto the shelves of bookstores. ….
In keeping with our discount-roots, all books at the festival will sell at a maximum of £5 for paperbacks and £10 for hardbacks.”
They have a website where publishers and writers from the continent can learn more about how to be part of the Festival and about how to get their books there.