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Here are 7 More New African Literature Releases in 2017


The first 7 months of the year has already seen the release of some exciting new books, including Ayobami Adebayo's Bailey's shortlisted Stay With Me,  Lesley Nneka Arimah's short story collection What it Means When It Falls From the Sky and Abdulai Sila's The Ultimate Tragedy - the first novel ever to be translated into English from Guinea Bissau

We are now more than half way into 2017, and I wanted to update my new releases in 2017 list (here and here), as there are even more new releases. There have also been a lot of cover reveals, including Tochi Onyebuchi's Nigerian-influenced YA fantasy Beasts Made of Night, and the UK and US covers of Nikhil Singh's Taty Went West. The UK edition (middle image) is out in October, and the US edition is out Jan 2018. 



Well, here are 7 more to add to your list - one was published earlier in the year, a couple are already out and the rest are soon to come. 

March

In direct narrative terms the poems in this collection relate to the horrors of the civil war that ousted the brutal tyranny of Idi Amin in Uganda, a war of liberation that brought its own barbarous atrocities. In political terms the poems chart the impact of imperialism and neo-colonialism that lay behind those traumas in the life of the nation. In personal terms, the poems are framed between the contrary pulls of attachment and flight, exile and longing. At their heart is an unwavering curiosity about how people behave in extreme situations, and what this reveals about our common human capacities to indulge grandiose visions, betray them, dissemble, seek revenge and kill. There is no presumption of innocence. There may be flight, but there is no standing aside. The narrator can dream (but is it a dream?) of a "dead man/who has been stung by the invisible bee of my bullet"



June

Translating as ‘initiation’, kumukanda is the name given to the rites a young boy from the Luvale tribe must pass through before he is considered a man. The poems of Kayo Chingonyi’s remarkable debut explore this passage: between two worlds, ancestral and contemporary; between the living and the dead; between the gulf of who he is and how he is perceived.

Underpinned by a love of music, language and literature, here is a powerful exploration of race, identity and masculinity, celebrating what it means to be British and not British, all at once.



July

Best mates Karl and Abu are both 17 and live near Kings Cross. Its 2011 and racial tensions are set to explode across London. Abu is infatuated with gorgeous classmate Nalini but dares not speak to her. Meanwhile, Karl is the target of the local "wannabe" thugs just for being different. When Karl finds out his father lives in Nigeria, he decides that Port Harcourt is the best place to escape the sound and fury of London, and connect with a Dad he's never known.

Rejected on arrival, Karl befriends Nakale, an activist who wants to expose the ecocide in the Niger Delta to the world, and falls headlong for his feisty cousin Janoma. Meanwhile, the murder of Mark Duggan triggers a full-scale riot in London. Abu finds himself in its midst, leading to a near-tragedy that forces Karl to race back home.

When We Speak of Nothing launches a powerful new voice onto the literary stage. The fluid prose, peppered with contemporary slang, captures what it means to be young, black and queer in London. If grime music were a novel, it would be this.



From an author of rare, haunting power, a stunning novel about a young African-American woman coming of age—a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, family, and country

Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother’s childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor—someone, or something, to love. 

In arresting and unsettling prose, we watch Thandi’s life unfold, from losing her mother and learning to live without the person who has most profoundly shaped her existence, to her own encounters with romance and unexpected motherhood.

Through exquisite and emotional vignettes, Clemmons creates a stunning portrayal of what it means to choose to live, after loss. An elegiac distillation, at once intellectual and visceral, of a young woman’s understanding of absence and identity that spans continents and decades, What We Lose heralds the arrival of a virtuosic new voice in fiction.

UK cover: Not Final 

With urgency and tenderness Evening Primrose explores issues of race, gender and the medical profession through the eyes of a junior doctor.

When Masechaba finally achieves her childhood dream of becoming a doctor, her ambition is tested as she faces the stark reality of South Africa's public healthcare system.

As she leaves her deeply religious mother and makes friends with the politically-minded Nyasha, Masechaba's eyes are opened to the rising xenophobic tension that carries echoes of apartheid.

Battling her inner demons, she must decide if she should take a stand to help her best friend, even it comes at a high personal cost.



September

 In a city that has lost its shimmer, Lindanathi and his two friends Ruan and Cecelia sell illegal pharmaceuticals while chasing their next high. Lindanathi, deeply troubled by his hand in his brother’s death, has turned his back on his family, until a message from home reminds him of a promise he made years before. When a puzzling masked man enters their lives, Lindanathi is faced with a decision: continue his life in Cape Town, or return to his family and to all he has left behind. Rendered in lyrical, bright prose and set in a not-so-new South Africa, The Reactive is a poignant, life-affirming story about secrets, memory, chemical abuse and family, and the redemption that comes from facing what haunts us most.


October

 Every time she bleeds a murderer is born. Experience the horror of Tade Thompson's The Murders of Molly Southbourne.

For as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she's been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction.

Molly knows every way to kill herself, but she also knows that as long as she survives she'll be hunted. No matter how well she follows the rules, eventually the mollys will find her. Can Molly find a way to stop the tide of blood, or will she meet her end at the hand of a girl who looks just like her?



  

… and of course there are already a number of exciting titles that will be out in 2018. There’s Nnedi Okorafor’s The Night Masquerade (part 3 in Okorafor’s award winning Binti trilogy) and part 1 of Tomi Adeyemi’s Childrenof Blood and Bones trilogy which sees 17-year-old Zélie Adebola who has one chance to bring magic back to land of Orïsha




I was also at Africa Utopia last weekend at London South Bank Centre where Nadifa Mohamed briefly mentioned working on her third novel, which will focus on the Somali population in Wales (if I remember correctly), and Sulaiman Addonia announced he also had finished writing his second novel – which took him 9 years to write. His first novel, The Consequences of Love (which is on my ever growing to-read list) was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2009.
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In Honour of Her Legacy: Buchi Emecheta has a Website


When you get a comment on your post on Buchi Emecheta's works that 'Buchi Emecheta now has a website', the first thing you do is shriek in excitement (well, that's what I did). The next thing is to hope the comment and link is valid, and then click it, find out it is valid and shriek in even more excitement (well that's what I also did). And now I can safely and confidently state that Buchi Emecheta has a website!!!!



To quote the comment on the post from Sylvester O. (Buchi Emecheta's son), the website 
... is still in development, but you can navigate there for more information about her life and upcoming events to honour her legacy'.
I've already been on it (of course) and there's a bio on Buchi Emecheta, a list of all the books she wrote, a photo gallery with portraits of Buchi Emecheta and her children, and an events calendar. I am so excited about this, so so excited! Can't wait to see what else will be on the website as it develops. So check it out and spread the word - because great women writers need to be constantly celebrated, and we must continue to honour Buchi Emecheta's legacy.  

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Cover Reveal: Tomi Adeyemi's 'Children of Blood'


.... because I unapologetically judge books by their covers, here is the cover of Tomi Adeyemi's debut YA fantasy novel, Children of Blood and Bones courtesy of Teen Vogue. Isn't it lovely? It's designed by children's book illustrator and designer, Rich Deas. Book one of the trilogy is not out until March 6 2018. Can't wait!!!! The seven-figure deal for Adeyemi's fantasy trilogy also includes a movie deal with Fox 2000. So doubly can't wait!!! 


In Children of Blood and Bones:
Zélie Adebola remembers remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. 
Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.  
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.
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On the Kwani? Manuscript Project and the Books that Came After


A few days ago when I really should have been getting ready for bed, I don't know why, but I started thinking about the Kwani? Manuscript Project. Specifically the books that have been published following the Prize. And so, as I do when an idea gets stuck in my head, I started looking into the prize and its legacy. 

Image via Africa in Words

Five years ago (April 2012 to be exact), Kwani? announced the launch of its one-off Kwani? Manuscript Project for unpublished fiction manuscripts from African writers across the continent and in the Diaspora. It aimed 'to celebrate the African novel and its adaptability and resilience'. The Project received almost 300 manuscripts from 19 countries, of which 30 were longlisted and 7 shortlisted

The overall winner was Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi's The Kintu Saga. First published by Kwani?, it follows the stories of Kintu Kidda - Ppokino of Buddu Province, in the kingdom of Buganda - and his descendantsI finally had the pleasure of getting a copy of Kintu when I was at the Writivism Festival in Kampala last year, and Kintu is one of those beautiful books where I savoured every word written in it. I really took my time to absorb it all and enter the  cursed world of Kintu Kidda and his descendants. Kintu was recently published in the US by Transit Books.

 East African (Kwani?) and US editions of Kintu 

Well, a look at the longlist a few years later reveals a number of other amazing books that were on that list that have since been published by Kwani? and other publishers, including Cassava Republic Press, New Con Press and Weaver Press. It also reveals how truly remarkable this one-off project was through the range of stories that came out of it.

This includes Saah Millimono's Boy, Interrupted - a love story set in Liberia during the civil war, which was second place in the Project and also published by Kwani? and Nick Wood's debut adult novel, Azanian Bridges set in an alternate South Africa where Nelson Mandela was never released and an Empathy Enhancer has been created to connect two humans together in the hopes that they can understand each others experiences more easily. 



Then, there's Nikhil Singh's absolutely terrifying and thrilling Taty Went West about a teenager who runs away from her home in the suburbs of the Lowlands into the Outzone - a creepy, out of this world place definitely not for kids. The UK (Jacaranda) and US (Rosarium) editions will be published late 2017/early 2018.

 East African (Kwani?) and US editions of Taty Went West


There's also Ayobami Adebayo's Bailey's shortlisted debut novel, Stay With Me - centred on the pressures to start a family and even more than that learning to deal with loss - it's also about heartbreak,  infidelity, parenthood (it's as much about being a mother as it is about being a father). 

 East African (Kwani?), UK and Nigerian editions of Stay With Me 


As well as Toni Kan's Carnivorous City about a Lagos big boy who goes missing and Ayesha Harruna Attah's Saturday's Shadows set in a West African country at the end of 17 year military dictatorship. I also found out while writing this post that Weaver Press in Zimbabwe published Christopher Mlalazi's They are Coming, about a small family in a township in Bulawayo.



While it may have been a one-off, the Kwani? Manuscript Project also shows how manuscripts and books that first got recognition on the African continent (through an African prize) have gained recognition internationally. Beyond that, it's a testament to the fact that organisations in African countries are putting structures in place to support literature. Since the Kwani? Manuscript Project, there has been the Jalada Prize for Literature in 2015, the Saraba Manuscript Prize for Fiction and Non fiction, as well as Writivism's Short Story Prize and Koffi Addo Prize for Creative Non Fiction,and the Huza Press Award for Fiction.
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5 Books on Love and Heartbreak Set in London



Dalston by Matt Bannister

Continuing my celebration of London, this time with books by female authors about love and heartbreak set (partly) in London. 

As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?



Deola Banjoko has it all. A wonderful career, an accomplished fiancée and great plans for the future. But as the years pass and Deola fails to become pregnant, the foundations of the wonderful life they have built together begin to crumble, unable to withstand the pressures of life, family and cultural expectations.

Recovering from a broken heart, Deola takes up a chance to work in Nigeria. She crosses paths with businessman Femi Da Silva and ends up working as a consultant for his PR company. She soon learns that Femi has issues of his own, having been widowed ten years before, and tries to fight her attraction to him. Can Deola move beyond the pain of the past and the constrictions of societal pressures and find the unconditional love she is seeking?



Nic, Caryn and Tory: three girls who form a friendship that should last a lifetime. 
Nic is the daughter of a white Zimbabwean business tycoon. Despite a life of jaw-dropping wealth and privilege, all she really wants is a bit of attention from daddy. Caryn never met her father - but growing up on a tough London sink estate, she had other things to worry about. Like getting out and moving on. Tory just yearns for some space to be herself. Living in the shadow of your dead sister is tough, particularly when she seemed to be everything you're not. 
Then beautiful, ruthless Estelle McKenzie appears on the scene. Estelle has a secret - and one way or another, she's going to make each woman pay a very high price for it.



Lola has everything going for her on the surface, she's beautiful, has a good job and a pretty fun social life with her friends. Until she meets a cool, handsome, unpredictable hunk, Wole at a party in London. He pushes all the right buttons for her, and she is immediately attracted to him. Wole is also irresistibly drawn to Lola, and before long, they get together in a wonderful, passionate romance. But Wole is not all that he seems. He's had a troubled past, and he is hiding some dark secrets.

Things begin to unravel when Wole’s past catches up with him and Lola has to decide if Wole is worth the trouble that threatens to overwhelm her. Find out in this captivating book if their love will overcome the trials of a murder investigation, an arrest, a meddling relative and a trip halfway across the world. Will nothing come close to what they feel for each other?



From Pasta to Pigfoot is a contemporary, multi-cultural novel that tells the story of Faye Bonsu, a pasta-loving, underachieving PA whose upbringing in leafy Hampstead, London has given her little opportunity to understand her African heritage.
Her less than successful attempts to be seen as more than a cultural lightweight take Faye on a journey back to her native Ghana, where she finds love, culture galore and the confidence to fulfill her potential.


From Pasta to Pigfoot explores in a light-hearted way the clash of cultures that has become characteristic of our increasingly multicultural society, and is familiar to those who have first-hand experience of straddling two worlds. Faye’s visit to Ghana is a refreshing exploration of another side of Africa, depicting successful, urban middle class professionals navigating the challenges between traditional and contemporary Africa.

  

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