Book News: African literature rises

2019-07-02 14:56

When Africa writes

The need for African literature to be acknowledged for compelling works of writing and information has risen over the years and the continent is quite in fashion nowadays.

Literary festivals have sprung up locally and globally, showcasing African authors and stories. The Abantu Book Festival, which began in 2016, takes place in Soweto every December, creating a space for black writers and publishers, something that was flagrantly missing from the South African literary landscape before.

The trend is worldwide. Next weekend, Bristol in the UK is celebrating contemporary African literature from the continent and the diaspora by showcasing a series of performances, book launches, panels and workshops in the Africa Writes Bristol festival.

The festival, now in its eighth year, takes place from Friday to Sunday and is the UK’s biggest celebration of contemporary African writing. More than 60 writers from Botswana, Cameroon, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Somaliland, South Africa, Uganda, the UK, the US and Zambia will convene at the festival, with Nigeria-born Man Booker Prize shortlisted author Chigozie Obioma headlining this year.

New Daughters of Africa, an anthology that has been praised for its role in curating stories from the African diaspora, is featured prominently on the programme and has been a driving force behind the festival, which brings together a number of writers and contributors from across the diaspora. Celebrated South African poet and activist Koleka Putuma will attend with other award-winning authors, including Raymond Antrobus, Adesola Akinleye, Caleb Femi, Jessica Horn, Miss Jacqui, Fatimah Kelleher, Nick Makoha, Sitawa Namwalie and Belinda Zhawi.

Some of the round-table discussions will include conversations on queer writers’ experiences, notions of masculinity and the latest literary innovations coming out of east Africa.

If you will be in the UK next week or know of someone who would be interested in attending the festival, check out

(L-R) Adebayo Ayobami, Nadifa Mohamed, Margaret Busby, Namwali Serpell and Bernadine Evaristo will be at Africa Writes 2019 Picture: RAS Communications

Writing against censorship

Here’s an opportunity for published African authors younger than 40. The Goethe-Institut in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, is inviting writers to apply for its 2019/20 residencies.

“Open to writers in all genres, successful applicants will be paid R25 000 and will be expected to produce a manuscript that will be published in 2020,” said the institute.

Ouagoudougou will be hosting African writers

The project is about freedom of expression and will particularly welcome activists and writers who have been censored in their home countries. The residencies offer authors who are previously published digitally or physically (but not self-published) to network and engage African writers. Visit for more information. The deadline for applications is next Sunday.

Another art book nod for SA

“I am thrilled,” wrote artist and art theorist Terry Kurgan on Facebook this week. “My book, Everyone is Present, has been shortlisted for the Photo Text Book Award at Les Rencontres de la Photographie Arles 2019 Prix du Livres book awards.”

The prestigious award for books that are not just about text but also prominently feature images, says on its website: “The Photo Text Book Award rewards the best book mixing images and texts, whether it is through the imbrication of the text in the image, the preponderant place of the writing within a model or a text supporting the photographic idea.”

Terry Kurgan’s book Present Tense is shortlisted for an international award Picture: Supplied

Kurgan’s book contains essays about photography and was published by Fourthwall Books, a local publishing house that is starting to make an international name for itself.

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November 10 2019