Tuesday, February 27, 2007

African Review of Books still ticking

The African Review of Books, despite the long silence of this newsletter, is not dead, merely ticking over and generating verbiage of another sort. Reviews still trickle into the site and this is going to develop into a strong flow in the coming months.

The reason for ARoB's hibernation is that all the energies of the few people who maintain it have been devoted over the past year to the establishment and running of a new publishing house dedicated to fiction and poetry from Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

It was always one of the hopes of ARoB's founders to see more of the works it highlighted getting into print in the English-reading market.

Instead of waiting for the multinationals to do this, it was decided to put ARoB's expertise to use in publishing, in conjunction with the Latin American Review of Books.

This led to the creation of Aflame Books, which is about to release its third title, From the Darkness, a novel from Guatemala. So far Aflame has published a collection of poetry about Nelson Mandela and has translated into English the detective novel by Angola's Pepetela, Jaime Bunda, Secret Agent.

Halala Madiba: Nelson Mandela in Poetry brings together almost 100 poems from 26 countries which, more than just praising one man, tell the history of South Africa through the eyes of its poets.

Jaime Bunda, Secret Agent is a hilarious, post-modernist tale of an incompetent detective who stumbles from one meal to the next.

Review of both books are available on African Review of Books website.

Both of these books are available through Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and Kalahari.net as well as other booksellers in the UK, USA and South Africa .

Other titles to be published by Aflame include two of Africa's 100 best books - Ualalapi by Ungula commercial face to the African Review of Books and the two must work together to succeed, and we are counting on your continued support in our drive to make the literature of Africa more accessible.

And there is another appeal: ARoB needs contributors. If you have a review, or a news item to contribute, please send it to us.

We shall be building up our archive of news items and welcome snippets of book related news from around the world.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to offering you more from Africa.

Richard Bartlett African Review of Books Richard Bartlett [mailto:richard@africanreviewofbooks.com]

Announcing the 10th TIME OF THE WRITER international writers festival

Durban: 19 - 24 March 2007

18 writers from 10 countries will descend on Durban for a stimulating feast of words, ideas, and discussion at the Time of the Writer international writers festival. Hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu Natal), the festival celebrates its tenth year with an extensive week-long programme of activities from 19 to 24 March. Diversity of the written word is a notable feature of the festival with novelists, journalists and bloggers of various genres and backgrounds presenting their views for dialogue and debate in the public arena.

A highlight of the festival will be a Human Rights Day programme featuring reading of work by assassinated Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a rare interview with Miriam Tlali, and culminating in a presentation by celebrated African literary giant Ngtgi wa Thiongo, who will talk on the role of writers in propagating and cementing human rights. One-time Staffrider columnist, Miriam Tlali was the first black woman writer to publish an English novel, Muriel at Metropolitan, in South Africa, while her 1980 novel on the Soweto uprisings Amandla was banned. Tlali is acclaimed as one of the first South African writers to take seriously the life-worlds of black South African women. wa Thiongo whose first novel in almost two decades, Wizard of the Crow will have its Durban launch during the festival, will also make a presentation on writing in indigenousolitkovskaya's reports on Chechnya, which will be read by John Matshikiza, form part of a co-ordinated global effort to highlight free speech.

Time of the Writers commitment to local writers this year sees an impressive gathering of contemporary South African voices, including 2006 Caine Prize winner Mary Watson. Watson, whose winning story Jungfrau was taken from her moving debut collection Moss, is one of a current crop of young South African writers reshaping and reimagining the countrys literary landscape.

Others include Imraan Coovadia, whose highly regarded comic-dramatic novel The Wedding was followed, last year, by the well-reviewed Green-Eyed Thieves, and Fred Khumalo, editor and columnist at The Sunday Times, whose excellent novel Bitches' Brew was joint winner of the European Union Literary Award in 2005, and has been followed with Touch My Blood in 2006. Participant Zukiswa Wanners debut The Madams is a cheeky and witty portrayal of post-apartheid racial role-reversal in the domestic sphere. Completing this quintet of talented young South African voices is Tom Eaton, a popular columnist of biting wit for the Mail and Guardian, and author of the irreverent novel The De Villiers Code (2005), and Texas (2006).

The festival also hosts the experienced pens of Michael Chapman, one of the countrys foremost literary scholars and curators, and Ronnie Govender, one of Durbans favourite sons. Govender was also recently awarded the South African Literary Lifetime Achievement Award by the Department of Arts and Culture.

African writers are especially well-represented this year with three giants of the continent in attendance. Joining Ngtgi wa Thiongo is Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga, author of the seminal Nervous Conditions, who makes a welcome second visit to the festival. Dangarembgas much-anticipated second novel The Book of Not was released in August 2006 and has received wonderful reviews. It will be launched during the festival. Joining her will be Aminata Sow Fall from Senegal, a touchstone of Francophone African literature, two of whose works have been made into films.

Doreen Bainganas (Uganda) debut Tropical Fish: Stories out of Entebbe, a collection of linked short stories that explore the coming of age of three African sisters, won the Commonwealth Prize for First Book, Africa Region in 2006. A two-time Caine Prize finalist, Bainganas writing has been described as incandescent. Another Caine Prize finalist is Chika Unigwe (Nigeria/Belgium), a writer of fiction, poetry, and educational material, whose debut De Feniks was the first book of fiction written by a Flemish author of African origin. Vamba Sherif (Liberia/Netherlands) author of three novels in Dutch, is another author of African origin who tells particularly African stories in a language not native to the continent.

Tom Lanoye, a prolific and multi-talented Belgian, is a writer of strong rhetorical ability, with a sharp sense of humour. Highly regarded for both his poetry and theatre work, he and Antjie Krog recently toured Holland with a dynamic two-hander focusing on language linkages. Oscar Hemer, an established Swedish novelist with a keen interest in Africa, forms part of the festivals partnership with the Memories of Modernity project, a broad collaboration between K3 of Malmö University (Sweden) and the Centre for Creative Arts and the Center for Culture and Media Studies of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and supported by the Department of Arts and Culture. The art exhibition, Houses of Memory at the Durban Art Gallery is produced by South African and Swedish artists and forms the backbone of the Memories of Modernity project. It will run from 4 - 25 April.

In its exploration of different forms that writing takes, the festival this year turns its focus onto the digital realm with blogger Mohammed Ali from Iraq, whose award-winning blog Iraq the Model (www.iraqthemodel.blogspot.com) provides some of the most insightful comment coming out of th the controversial t-shirt company which also now releases a successful annual young culture publication, who will share his insights on alternatives to traditional media.

Readings, discussions and book launches will take place nightly at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The impressive schedule of launches this year include The Book of Not by Tsitsi Dangarembga, Undressing Durban by Rob Pattman, Sultan Khan, and Faith Ka-Manzi, Wizard of the Crow by Ngtgi wa Thiongo, Inter-play: A Collection of Plays by Ronnie Govender, and Hot Type by Bongani Madondo.

A broad range of day activities in the form of school-visits, workshops, a publishing forum, an educators forum and a prison writing programme, are formulated to promote a culture of reading, writing and creative expression.
With this wide-ranging programme of activities and culturally diverse line-up of writers, Time of the Writer 2007 is set to deliver an exceptional platform for dialogue and exchange on wide-ranging subjects from gender and social issues to political affairs, offering insights into the motivations and processes that inform the complex art of writing.

Tickets are R25 for the evening sessions, R10 for students, and can be purchased through Computicket or at the door one hour before the event. Workshops and seminars are free.

Visit www.cca.ukzn.ac.za for biographies and photos of participants or contact the University of KwaZulu-Natals Centre for Creative Arts for more information on 031 260 2506 or e-mail cca@ukzn.ac.za

Time of the Writer 2007 is supported by the Department of Arts and Culture, National Lottery Distribution Fund, HIVOS, City of Durban, Stichting Doen, French Institute of South Africa, Royal Netherlands Embassy, Pro Helvetia Arts Council of Switzerland, Adams Campus Books, Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

For Media Queries Contact Sharlene Versfeld
T: 031 201 1650
F: 031 201 1654
E: sharlene@versfeld.co.za

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, leading discussion on Gather.com

Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, is leading a discussion of his book on Gather.com

Ishmael's tale is truly remarkable. During the Sierra Leone civil war in the '90s, his family was murdered, and at the age of 13 he was recruited to be a child soldier. The novel describes his loss of innocence, eventual escape from the war-torn region, and reintroduction to society. Ishmael's story is brutally honest, and painfully real. He turned struggle into survival -- eventually becoming a spokesperson for the UN to raise awareness about conflicts like those in his country.

In the Starbucks Book Break group, you'll find a video interview with Ishmael Beah, a detailed synopsis and book excerpts.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Invitation to the launch of Pamela Jooste's Star of the Morning

Random House extends an invitation to attend the launch of Star of the Morning by Pamela Jooste.

At Welgemeend on 21 February

RSVP to Laura Boon: 083 659-3166

Invitation to Authors' Choice Evening hosted at Wordsworth at the Waterfront

The guest author is André Carl van der Merwe, author of Moffie.

Date: Wednesday, 28 February 2007
Time: 18h30 for 19h00
1 King's Warehouse
Victoria Wharf
V&A Waterfront

André Carl will be discussing his own work, his favourite writers and books as well as his inspiration/motivation when writing.

RSVP before Monday, 26 February 2007
Tel: (021) 425-6880
Email: waterfront@wordsworth.co.za

Moffie will be available at a 20% discount.
Snacks & drinks will be served.

Monday, February 19, 2007

SAFM launches poetry and short story competition


Universal theme

Maximum 20 lines

Panel Members will identify the top 5 poems submitted and these will be played on Afternoon Talk on Thursday, 29th March at 13:00. Listeners will be invited to vote for the best poem via sms or e-mail during the programme.

5 Finalists receive R2 000-00 each.

The winner will receive an additional R3 000-00.


Universal theme

Not longer than 5’00 (4 x A4 pages in double spacing)

Panel members will identify the top 5 short stories and these will be played on Afternoon Talk on Friday, 30th March at 13:00. Listeners will be invited to vote for the best short story via sms or e-mail during the programme.

5 Finalists receive R5 000-00 each.

The winner will receive an additional R5 000-00.

Entries may be submitted electronically to express@safm.co.za

or sent via the post to:


P.O. Box 91162
Auckland Park

Closing date for entries is Friday, 16th March, 2007.

Please ensure that your full name, postal or e-mail address and a day-time telephone number are indicated on your entry.

Please include the following at the end of your work:

“I declare that this poem/short story is my original work, and has not been published or broadcast in any form or medium, nor is it presently on offer.”

Friday, February 16, 2007

2007 Commonwealth Writers' Prize shortlists


Best Book

The Native Commissioner, by Shaun Johnson (South Africa), Penguin Books
What Kind of Child, by Ken Barris (South Africa), Kwela Books
Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria), Harper Collins
The Wizard of the Crow, by Ngugi wa Thiong'o (Kenya), Random House UK
Playing in the Light, by Zoe Wicomb (South Africa), Umuzi
Song of the Atman, by Ronnie Govender (South Africa), Jacana

Best First Book

All We Have Left Unsaid, by Maxine Case (South Africa), Kwela Books
Ice in the Lungs, by Gerald Kraak (South Africa), Jacana
A Life Elsewhere, by Segun Afolabi (Nigeria), Jonathan Cape
Room 207, by Kgebeti Moele (South Africa), Kwela Books
The Beggar's Signwriters, by Louis Greenberg (South Africa), Umuzi
The Shadow Follows, by David Medalie (South Africa), Picador Africa

Canada and the Caribbean

Best Book

The Law of Dreams, by Peter Behrens (Canada), House of Anansi Press
Chutney Power, by Willi Chen (Trinidad), Macmillan Caribbean
Fabrizio's Return, by Mark Frutkin (Canada), Knopf Canada
The Emperor's Children, by Claire Messud (Canada), Picador
The Unfortunate Marriage of Azeb Yitades, by Nega Mezlekia (Canada), Penguin Group (Canada)
The View from Castle Rock, by Alice Munro (Canada), Chatto and Windus
The Friends of Meager Fortune, by David Adams Richards (Canada), Doubleday Canada

Best First Book

Baby Khaki's Wings, by Anar Ali (Canada), Viking
Vandal Love, by D.Y. Bechard (Canada), Doubleday
De Niro's Game, by Rawi Hage (Canada), House of Anansi Press
The Fear of Stones, by Kei Miller (Jamaica), Macmillan Caribbean
Indigenous Beasts, by Nathan Sellyn (Canada), Raincoast Books
The Hour of Bad Decisions, by Russell Wangersky (Canada), Coteau Books

Europe and South Asia

Best Book

Sacred Games, by Vikram Chandra (India), Penguin
Miss Webster and Chérif, by Patricia Duncker (UK), Bloomsbury
The Sweet and Simple Kind, by Yasmine Gooneratne (Sri Lanka), Perera Hussein
Carry Me Down, by M J Hyland (UK), Canongate
Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell (UK), Sceptre
The Perfect Man, by Naeem Murr (UK), Heinemann
The Testament of Gideon Mack, by James Robertson (UK), Hamish Hamilton

Best First Book

The Saffron Kitchen, by Yasmin Crowther (UK) Abacus/Little Brown
The Mathematics of Love, by Emma Darwin (UK) Headline/Review
This Time of Dying, by Reina James (UK) Portobello
Giraffe, by J M Ledgard (UK), Jonathan Cape
Londonstani, by Gautam Malkani (UK), Fourth Estate
In the Country of Men, by Hisham Matar (UK), Viking
The Amnesia Clinic, by James Scudamore (UK), Harvill Secker

South East Asia and South Pacific

Best Book

Ocean Roads, by James George (New Zealand), Huia
Theft: A Love Story, by Peter Carey (Australia), Knopf/Random House
Mr Pip, by Lloyd Jones (New Zealand), Penguin
Carpentaria, by Alexis Wright (Australia), Giramondo
The Fainter, by Damien Wilkins (New Zealand), Victoria University Press
Red Spikes, by Margo Lanagan (Australia), Allen and Unwin
Careless, by Deborah Robertson (Australia), Picador

Best First Book

Tuvalu by Andrew O'Connor (Australia), Allen and Unwin
Davey Darling by Paul Shannon (New Zealand), Penguin
The Fish & Chip Song, by Carl Nixon (New Zealand), Vintage
The Long Road of the Junkmailer, by Patrick Holland (Australia), UQP
Poinciana, by Jane Turner Goldsmith (Australia), Wakefield

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Million Penguins - experiment in creative writing

Penguin UK has launched 'A Million Penguins', a first-of-a-kind experiment in creative writing and collaboration based on the wiki principle at http://www.amillionpenguins.com. The wiki will be accompanied by a blog where a Penguin editor will provide a running editorial commentary on the work in progress. It is managed by Kate Pullinger, Reader in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University, along with students from the online MA in Creative Writing and New Media.

Jeremy Ettinghausen, Penguin's Digital Publisher, said: "Communities, crowdsourcing and collaboration are the buzz words of the moment and we wanted to discover whether these social values could be applied to creative writing in the same way they are to, say, open source software. To be honest, we don't know exactly what is going to happen or how this will turn out - I guess that is up to the community!"

"The success of Penguin Remixed and the recent My Penguin initiative have shown that people are not simply content to be passive consumers of content, they want to get involved and the internet has given them the means to do this," said Ettinghausen. "What we're trying to do with A Million Penguins is see how we can use the new technology platforms that now exist to bring people into the world of books and writing and hopefully provide a forum where they can express themselves creatively and have some entertainment in the process."

Penguin is collaborating with students from the MA in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University who will be contributing to the wiki and will form the seeds of the community. "The success of a wiki project depends on the committment of the community," said Ettinghausen, "and we're very pleased that these most imaginative students are on board."

see also: http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,2003520,00.html
Contribute at http://www.amillionpenguins.com

British Council announces South African finalist in 2007 International Young Publisher of the Year Award

The International Young Publisher of the Year Award (IYPYA) is a collaborative initiative between the British Council and London Book Fair and was launched in 2004 to celebrate the entrepreneurial and leadership ability of a young persons working in the publishing sector, who are between the ages of 25-35 years.

This award aims to strengthen creative leadership, networking and capacity building in the international publishing industry, particularly in transitional economies. The London Book Fair provides a fertile ground for international networking and the award offers finalists the opportunity to build contacts with, and an understanding of, the UK publishing industry.

The British Council South Africa has announced 34 year old Cape Town based publishing entrepreneur, Solomon Solani Ngobeni, as the country’s 2007 finalist in this award.

Solomon Solani Ngobeni (South Africa)

Solomon Solani Ngobeni holds a Masters degree in Publishing Studies, obtained at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, as well as an Advanced Management Programme Certificate obtained at the Wits Business School. After graduating, he joined the Institute for Global Dialogue, a research institute based in Midrand, Johannesburg as a Publications and Projects Co-ordinator. He later joined Juta & Co as Higher Education Publisher, specialising in psychology, political science and education, building a formidable psychology list under the University of Cape Town’s Press Imprint.

In 2004 Solani was appointed Managing Director of Juta Learning, a division of Juta & Co. He was responsible for Further Education and Training related publishing until his resignation in January 2007. Upon resignation, Solani founded S & S Publishing, an academic publishing house specialising in social sciences as well as Further Education and Training. Further information about S & S Publishing is available at www.sspublishing.co.za

Solani has written and published on issues such as publishing management, the lack of bn publishing, as well as the impact of the dominance of knowledge produced in developed countries and its impact on viable publishing in the South. He has also written profusely around issues about the dearth of knowledge production by black academies in South Africa, the fact that 80% of South African knowledge is produced predominantly by white males and the slow pace of transformation in the South African publishing industry.

This young author and publisher strongly believes that the South African publishing industry will only grow and prosper once black South Africans have been brought into the mainstream of the knowledge economy, as both producers and consumers of knowledge. The future survival of the industry depends on it!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Commonwealth Writers’ Awards shortlist announced

Jacana Media has announced two authors on the Commonwealth Writers’ Awards Shortlist. Ronnie Govender’s first novel, Song of the Atman, has been shortlisted for the Best Book - Africa Region and Gerald Kraak’s first novel, Ice in the Lungs, has been shortlisted for Best First Book - Africa Region.

“Song of the Atman is a ground-breaking book and a riveting read. This beautifully written novel has all the makings of a South African classic.” – Kader Asmal, M.P.

“Song of the Atman was shortlisted for the European Union Literary Award in 2005, and Ice in the Lungs was joint winner of the European Union Literary Award in 2006. It is heartening to note in the local success of both titles, that South African book buyers have already recognized the quality of these new voices” - Maggie Davey, Jacana Publishing Director

Ronnie Govender was awarded a Life Time Achievement Award in 2006 by the Department of Arts and Culture.

“The fact that four of the six short-listed Best Book titles and five of the six Best First Book titles are by South African writers is a wonderful affirmation of the vibrancy of the South African literary landscape” - Mike Martin, Jacana MD.

The winner of the 21st Commonwealth Writers’ Prize will be announced on 27 May 2007 at the Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Invitation from Kalk Bay Books: Barbara Trapido & Mavis Cheek

Barbara Trapido, popular author of, among others,

Brother of the More Famous Jack and Frankie and Stankie

will talk about these and her upcoming novel at Kalk Bay Books.

Saturday, February 10
6 for 6.30pm
RSVP by Thursday 8 February


Meet the Jane Austen of the 21st Century

Mavis Cheek will be at Kalk Bay Books to meet you.

Saturday, February 16
6 for 6.30pm
RSVP by Wednesday 14 February

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

National Library of South Africa hosts Karen Stewart's fine art masters exhibition

The National Library of South Africa will be hosting an exhibition of botanical paintings as well as a display of original 16th and 17th and 18th century books from February 7 to March 23, 2007.

The main body of work on display will be Karen Stewart's fine art masters exhibition entitled "Opening the Curiosity Box". The work, in the form of an artist's book, takes a critical look at the curiosity collections of the 16th and 17th century, focusing on the botanical illustrations of the European pioneer plant collectors in South Africa during this period, who collected plants `in God's name' for the `betterment of science'.

Stewart's work features illustrations of indigenous plants which are woven in with local stories/legends which up to now have been poorly documented, if at all. Her aim is to reintroduce local knowledge of our indigenous flora that has long been excluded from scientific study to open up debate around these issues.

The National Library has agreed to allow a number of rare botanical and anthropological books from the 16th and 17th century to go on display to complement Stewart's work.

Exhibition venue: The Red Space, National Library of South Africa (behind St George's Cathedral).
Date: February 7 to March 23
Times: Mon - Fri 9am - to 5pm except Wednesdays 10am - 5pm
Entrance free to the public.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Justin Fox launches Under the Sway

Umuzi and Exclusive Books are pleased to announce the publication of Under the Sway by photographer and travel writer Justin Fox. This historical and cultural odyssey through picturesque Mozambique is presented as a single journey. A lively and informative text, accompanied by 120 photographs, provides the reader with deep insights into both Mozambique, the destination, and its people.

You are invited to join the author at the launch of Under the Sway.

Date: Thursday, 15 February 2007

Time: 5:30 for 6:00pm

Venue: Exclusive Books V&A Waterfront, Shop 6160, Victoria Wharf, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

RSVP: EB V&A- (021) 419-0905 / waterfront@exclusivebooks.co.za

Friday, February 02, 2007

Centre for the Book's Community Publishing Project breaking ground

The Centre for the Book's Community Publishing Project (CPP) is proud to announce that twenty books have now been published with the support of its grants. This ground-breaking project has made it possible for writers to publish their own work where no other avenues were open to them.

Popular fiction - crime, romance, thrillers in all languages would be especially welcomed for future grants.

The most recent books to be published with grants from the CPP are children's books, Mogopo wa Rakgadi in Sepedi written by Mphuhle Annah Mehlape and The Princesses' Journey in isiXhosa and English by Christina Russell and illustrated by Zodwa Skeyi. Others are a playscript, Salaam by Ashraf Johaardien and a collection of poems by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Taller than Buildings.

It is not easy to get books written in African languages published, especially if they are not specifically for the school market. So far, Mehlape has battled to get local bookshops to stock her book. Poetry and plays are genres that most publishers are not keen to take on, except in rare cases.

The grant to Ashraf Johaardien is something of a success story.

Although Johaardien is a well known actor and playwright he was unable to interest publishers in his script until he received a grant from the CPP. Nasou Via Afrika are now considering his play for the school market. "As a direct result of the publication the play has been invited to Kuala Lumpur during 2007," says Johaardien. He sold more than a third of the print run of Salaam at his recent highly successful performance of Salaam at the Artscape in Cape Town.

The Centre for the Book has produced three very useful publications for writers and small publishers - A rough guide to small-scale and self publishing; a South African Small Publishers' Catalogue and a series of ten advice pamphlets on all aspects of writing, editing and publishing for writers. "Each of these publications has grown out of the needs and demands of the writers and small publishers we work with," says Colleen Higgs, manager of the project.

The Small Publishers' Catalogue is available as a blog and has excited a great deal of interest - in a couple of months since it went live it has had over 5000 hits and many fascinating contributions.

"The next step is to build a network of small and independent publishers. They need to be represented on bodies such as the MAPPP Seta and they need to be able to exhibit their wares collectively at the Cape Town International Book Fair".

The CPP was started with funding and a vision from Hannes van Zyl, then the CEO of NB Publishers. Since then it has received funding from Nasou Via Afrika, the MAPPP Seta and most recently the Mpumalanga Provincial Library service, who are funding the project so that the Community Publishing Project can offer grants particularly to writers in that province.