Nigerian Writer on her Debut Novel

•1,March 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Baileys longlist author Ayòbámi Adébáyò, and London book fair – books podcast

Nigerian writer Ayòbámi Adébáyò pops into the studio to talk about her debut novel Stay With Me, and we look at what’s happening at the London book fair.

Read further @ The Guardian

Youngster Celebrates Black Books

•1,March 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

11-Year-Old Starts Club For Young Black Boys To See Themselves In Books

An 11-year-old from St. Louis wants to celebrate black books and improve the literacy rate among other boys at the same time.

Sidney Keys III started his own reading club for boys called Books N Bros to show his peers that reading can be fun.

Sidney told radio program St. Louis on the Air” earlier this month that “every time I go to the library at my school, there aren’t many African American literature books there.” After a visit to EyeSeeMe, a bookstore in University City, Missouri, that promotes African American children’s literature, he yearned to see more of himself reflected in books.

Read further @ Huffington Post

Inspiring Fantasy Trilogy for Marlon James

•1,March 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Marlon James’ Follow-Up to ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ Is an African Mythology-Inspired Fantasy Trilogy

Entertainment Weekly reports that A History of Seven Killings author Marlon James is following that massive, Man Booker Prize winning tome up with something even more extensive: a fantasy trilogy series. It’s called The Dark Star Trilogy, and will be composed of the novels Black Leopard, Red WolfMoon Witch, Night Devil; and The Boy and the Dark Star. 

James, a self-described sci-fi/fantasy geek, was inspired by a variety of sources — from African mythology to Dragonslayer to Game of Thrones to Ursula K. Le Guin. His fantasy series follows three mercenary characters who’re locked in the dungeon of a dying king’s castle as they await the trial for the death of a child they’d been tasked to find — a search that took them nine years instead of the expected two months, and ended with the child, and five other mercenaries, perishing. Each book in the trilogy will focus on a different mercenary’s perspective (each, he says, is something of a “witness testimony”) of what happened over those years — and in the interview with EW that accompanied the announcement, it’s no surprise that James also mentions Kurosawa’s Rashoman as another influence.

Read further @ Flavorwire

Review of Exit West

•1,March 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Review: ‘Exit West’ by Mohsin Hamid

Mohsin Hamid couldn’t have predicted what kind of political waters his new novel, “Exit West,” would drop into once it was released.

But with President Donald J. Trump’s attempt in January to ban immigrants, refugees and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Hamid’s tale about Saeed and Nadia, two lovers trying to escape civil-war chaos in an unidentified Near Eastern metropolis, couldn’t feel more timely.

The city where Hamid’s characters, live could be Aleppo or it could be Mosul. Its name is not the point. Wherever it is, it’s falling to anti-government militants, neighborhood by neighborhood. It’s also subject to bombings by government forces trying to hold their ground.

Weaponized drones fly overhead. Internet and cellphone service have evaporated. The electricity goes out. All municipal services — gas, water — have broken down.

Saeed’s mother, while searching for a lost earring in the family’s car, is killed by “a stray heavy-caliber round.” The entire city is victim to “the predations of warriors on both sides who seemed content to flatten it in order to possess it.”

To stay is to court imminent death. The closer the populace edges toward despair, the more credence they give to “endless rumors” of magical doors that help them escape this bedlam. Those doors do indeed exist, and Saeed and Nadia work up the nerve to take advantage of them. But the destinations they reach — the Greek island of Mykonos, central London, a shantytown outside San Francisco — don’t necessarily deliver the sanctuary they imagined.

With “Exit West,” Hamid has entered the realm of speculative fiction. It would be a pleasure to report that he has mastered the genre with the same biting prowess that he brought to his satire, “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia,” and to his Man Booker Prize-nominated masterpiece, “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.” But that’s not quite the case.

Read further @ Chicago Tribune

Review of Zadie Smith’s Swing Time

•1,March 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Swing Time, by Zadie Smith

“The narrator has spent most of her life in other people’s shadows, but through her storytelling asserts an identity that’s no longer tethered to another, one released only by disgrace.”

The novelist E.M. Forster, one of Zadie Smith’s literary heroes, described the Greek poet C.P. Cavafy as having the “strength of the recluse, who, though not afraid of the world, always stands at a slight angle to it.” The same could be said of Smith and politics. She is not afraid of the political, but her work is always pitched at a slight angle to it. In a recent interview in Slate, she commented that she does not have a “political intelligence” (I admit I find this hard to believe), that her “first concern is people,” but that “sometimes people’s intimate lives reflect the political world.” She may not deliberately impose the political on her work, but the political certainly emerges from it. What often transpires is a complicated intersection of conflicting ideas, ideals, and positions. It’s art, after all, not propaganda.

Intentionally political or not, Zadie Smith is without question one of our most astute cultural critics, and Swing Time (The Penguin Press), like her previous four novels, showcases her keen ability to examine a character’s psychological landscape while interrogating a cultural moment. Of Zadie Smith’s previous novel, NW (The Penguin Press, 2012), I wrote in a review for this publication: “Through repetition and refraction, each point of view brings new and surprising insight into events.” In Swing Time, new insight comes not from the way various characters’ perspectives shape the story, but from the narrator’s storytelling herself, a fragmented, shadow-self living in various fragmented realities, none to which she feels she fully belongs.

It is perhaps due to this particular narrative stance that Swing Time is Smith’s most melancholic work to date. Though the jacket copy calls it “exuberant,” to me it felt careful, wistful, resigned—punctuated by periods of “kinetic joy” that come, most often, through dance. In fact, I was puzzled by the jacket copy until I considered the other meanings of “exuberant”: not marked by unrestrained joy but by productive abundance, luxuriant growth. Swing Time is a novel that pours out, unrestrained yet delicately woven, like memory. Memory is often infused with joy, but also with shame, and the narrator feels the latter deeply, along with a desperate need to understand both where she has come from and where that might lead her, and how, most important, the two things are related.

Read further @ Fiction Writers Review

Pullman’s Announces New Follow-up Trilogy

•1,March 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Philip Pullman Announces ‘The Book of Dust’ — a Follow-up Trilogy to ‘His Dark Materials’

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series — The Golden CompassThe Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass — are some of the strangest and most beguiling YA novels out there, with their wheeled elephants, fraught “Dust,” shapeshifting daemons that hover alongside children at all times, emotionally complex daemon-severing villains(?), knives that can cut through the fabric of universes, and a very sad God. A deeply underwhelming movie was made of the first book — and there’s a BBC series of the novels incoming as well. But now, as NPR reports, there will soon be more Materials that are His, and likely also very Dark. For Pullman has announced a “companion trilogy,” with the first book set to arrive on October 19.

The trilogy — titled The Book of Dust — will see its first Dusty Book released on October 19, 2017.  This first novel takes place 10 years prior to The Golden Compass and Lyra — Materials‘ protagonist — will appear as an infant. The second two books, meanwhile, will follow Lyra as a young woman, a decade after the events of the third Materials novel (The Amber Spyglass). With this series, as the title suggests, Pullman says he really wanted to go deeper into “the nature of Dust, and consciousness, and what it means to be a human being.” Dust, in the first books, was shown to be an elementary particle indicative of a creature’s/human’s growing consciousness, and something that the Church believes to be Original Sin in particle form.

Source: Flavorwire

Focus on Arabic Women Writers

•1,March 8, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Women and Arabic Literature: News from Cairo and Casablanca

“Serious” literature is, in most languages, a male-dominated business. Literary works translated into English have hovered around a 70-30 split:

Exotic and kitchsy?

Exotic and kitchsy?

This often reflects a bias in the source language, and indeed the Arabic literature of prizes and festivals has generally been the province of men. There are some exceptions, such as the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, steered by the eminent Samia Mehrez. The world of comix has also been a more egalitarian one: While France’s Angouleme comix prize had its “30 men, 0 women” year, the inaugural CairoComix prizes went to a majority of women winners.

This year’s Cairo Literature Festival — which ran Feb. 11 – 16 — put its focus on women writers, with 30 of the 50 writers identifying as women. It featured some of the language’s leading women writers, including the poet Iman Mersal, who launched her new book, How to Mend: On Motherhood and its Ghosts.



Read further @ Arabic Literature


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