Book Reviews Long List Chronic 2

Fiction

 

Americanah

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Knopf, May 2013

From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a powerful new novel–her first in seven years: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home. As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. Ifemelu–beautiful, self-assured–departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze–the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor–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. Fifteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion–for their homeland and for each other–they will face the toughest decisions of their lives. Fearless, gripping, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story of love and expectation set in today’s globalized world.

 

Fools of Melville

Andile Mngxitama

Sankara Publishers, 2013

foolsofmelville@gmail.com

Fools of Melville is the first work of fiction by Andile Mngxitama to be published. It takes the reader through the journey of existential challenges of the black middle class just after independence. It’s a story that can be read as the looking inside the souls of the new blacks, their frivolities and follies.

The story is rich with “inter-textual” references which introduce the reader to other literatures; Fools of Melville can be read as a springboard to other avenues without compromising the story itself.

This much anticipated novella is poised to cause a stir in the literary circles and comes with bonus stories which will be kept a secret.

 

The Tuner of Silences

Mia Couto

Translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw
Biblioasis, 2013

The eighth novel by the internationally bestselling Mia Couto, The Tuner of Silences is the story of Mwanito’s struggle to reconstruct a family history that his father is unable to discuss. With the young woman’s arrival in Jezoosalem, however, the silence of the past quickly breaks down, and both his father’s story and the world are heard once more.
The Tuner of Silences has been published to acclaim in more than half a dozen countries. Now in its first English translation, this story of an African boy’s quest for the truth endures as a magical, humanizing confrontation between one child and the legacy of war.

Ripe to Burst

by Frankétienne

translated from the French by André Naffis-Sahely

archipelago books August 2013

Ripe to Burst follows the lives of two young men and their individual attempts to make sense of the deeply troubled society surrounding them. An informed critique of the ‘brain drain’ prompted by the Duvalier dictatorship, Ripe to Burst is, in Frankétienne’s words, a portrait of “the extreme bitterness of doom in the face of the blind machinery of power.” Widely recognized as Haiti’s most important literary figure and an outspoken challenger of political oppression, Frankétienne was a candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2009.

 

Ultravocal

by Frankétienne

translated from the French by André Naffis-Sahely

archipelago books, December 2014

Ultravocal pushes the limits of genre, turning shockingly visceral images of the destruction, violence, death, and decay in the author’s native Haiti into art. We witness the country’s problematic relationship with its own past, but also its grandeur, rich artistic traditions, and the transformative possibilities of language.

Praise for Frankétienne:

“[Frankétienne] is not only a major Haitian writer, he is probably the major Haitian writer, forever.”—Jean Jonassaint, Syracuse University

“It is Frankétienne’s audacity in his writing- his charming ability to calmly bring his interlocutor into his initially terrifying world, it is an audacity to imbue the material, whether it be his poetry, his paintings or his theatre, with a sense of the urgency of humanity- which makes him such an incredible writer and persona.” —Emmelie Prophete

 

Texaco
by Patrick Chamoiseau
ISBN13: 9780679751755
ISBN10: 0679751750
Vintage Books

Publisher Comments:
“Chamoiseau is a writer who has the sophistication of the modern novelist, and it is from that position (as an heir of Joyce and Kafka) that he holds out his hand to the oral prehistory of literature.”
–Milan Kundera

Of black Martinican provenance, Patrick Chamoiseau gives us Texaco (winner of the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize), an international literary achievement, tracing one hundred and fifty years of post-slavery Caribbean history: a novel that is as much about self-affirmation engendered by memory as it is about a quest for the adequacy of its own form.

In a narrative composed of short sequences, each recounting episodes or developments of moment, and interspersed with extracts from fictive notebooks and from statements by an urban planner, Marie-Sophie Laborieux, the saucy, aging daughter of a slave affranchised by his master, tells the story of the tormented foundation of her people’s identity. The shantytown established by Marie-Sophie is menaced from without by hostile landowners and from within by the volatility of its own provisional state. Hers is a brilliant polyphonic rendering of individual stories informed by rhythmic orality and subversive humor that shape a collective experience.

A joyous affirmation of literature that brings to mind Boccaccio, La Fontaine, Lewis Carroll, Montaigne, Rabelais, and Joyce, Texaco is a work of rare power and ambition, a masterpiece.

 

The Bottom of the Jar

by Abdellatif Laâbi

translated from the French by André Naffis-Sahely

archipelago books, February 2013

By Abdellatif Laâbi, who won the Prix Goncourt for his oeuvre complète, The Bottom of the Jar is an exploration of Laâbi’s childhood city in Fez, undertaken through Namoussa, his semi-fictional kindred spirit. Coupled with intimate portraits of the lives of various colorful characters filling the homes and alleyways of Morocco’s Medieval capital, The Bottom of the Jar is a warm and lyrical elegy to his family and a moving glimpse into a city that he holds dear. The reader is presented with beautiful – and often harrowing – descriptions of the author’s school-life at a Koranic school, his circumcision, and other rites of passage such as his trips to the hammam and his reflections on various religious feasts and ceremonies. Yet the novel is not only a personal testament of Laâbi’s early years, but is a work or great social and political import; one that reflects on and evokes the charged atmosphere during the final days of French colonial occupation of the North African country, and the painful road to independence.

 

“Fire. Germination. Birth. Blood.  All these themes are burnished and boned image by image until they echo through Abdellatif’s book…. Abdellatif Laâbi, as you will see, is a member of the same cell as Dostoevsky, Hikmet, Soyinka, Cervantes…” – Breyten Breytenbach, for Rue du Retour

 

Two nos don’t make a yes:

 

The No Variations

Diary of an Unfinished Novel

Luis Chitarroni

Translated by Darren Koolman

Dalkery Archive 2013

A self-negating series of notes for an unfinished work of fiction, this astonishing book is made up of ideas for characters and plots, of literary references both real and invented, and is populated by an array of fictional authors and their respective literary cliques, all of whom sport multiple pseudonyms, publish their own literary journals, and, in turn, produce their own ideas for books, characters, and poems . . . A dizzying look at the backrooms of literature, where aesthetic ambitions are forever under siege by petty squabbles, long-nurtured grudges, bankrupt publishers, and self-important critics, The No Variations is a serious game, or perhaps a frivolous tragedy, and is one of the great “novels” of contemporary Latin American literature.

 

The No World Concerto

A. G. Porta

Translated by Darren Koolman, Rhett McNeil

Dalkey Archive, 2013

The many layers of The No World Concerto center around an old screenwriter, holed up in a shabby hotel in order to write a screenplay about his lover, a young piano prodigy who wants in turn to give up music and become a writer. From these meager elements, A. G. Porta launches an investigation of the limits of language, fiction, and the known world. Here, hazy foosball bars and empty concert halls resound with debates about Wittgenstein or the principles of Schoenberg’s compositions; characters appear who may or may not have any existence outside the screenwriter’s work; and the young pianist begins to believe she may be in contact with creatures from another dimension. Shifting effortlessly between realities, The No World Concerto is a delightful and prismatic narrative puzzle, and the first of A. G. Porta’s masterful novels to appear in the English language—finally joining those of his early writing partner Roberto Bolaño.

 

 

And Still the Earth

Ignácio de Loyola Brandão

Dalkey Archive, 2013

Welcome to São Paulo, Brazil, in the not too distant future. Water is scarce, garbage clogs the city, movement is restricted, and the System—sinister, omnipotent, secret—rules its subjects’ every moment and thought. Here, middle-aged Souza lives a meaningless life in a world where hope is a lie and all memory of the past is forbidden. A classic novel of “dystopia,” looking back to Orwell’s 1984 and forward to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, And Still the Earth stands with Loyola Brandão’s Zero as one of the author’s greatest, and darkest, achievements.

 

 

Hypothermia

Álvaro Enrigue

Translated by Brendan Riley

Dalkey Archive, 2013

Shocking, erudite, and affecting, these twenty-odd short stories, “micro-novels,” and vignettes span a vast territory, from Mexico City to Washington, D.C. to the late nineteenth-century Adriatic to the blood-soaked foothills of California’s Gold Rush country, introducing an array of bewildering characters: a professor of Latin American literature who survives a tornado and, possibly, an orgy; an electrician confronting the hardest wiring job of his career; a hapless garbage man who dreams of life as a pirate; and a prodigiously talented Polish baritone waging musical war against his church. Hypothermia explores the perilous limits of love, language, and personality, the brutal gravity of cultural misunderstandings, and the coldly smirking will to self-destruction hiding within our irredeemably carnal lives.

 

 

Nigerians in Space

Deji Olukotun

Ricochet Books (February 21, 2013) Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

“It’s time to end the brain drain and move to brain gain. It’s time for a great mind of Nigeria to return home. You’re the mind we need, Doctor.”

1993. Houston. A lunar rock geologist gets an outlandish request: steal a piece of the moon. Dr. Wale Olufunmi has a life most Nigerian immigrants would kill for, but then most Nigerians aren’t Wale—a great scientific mind in exile with galactic ambitions. With both personal and national glory at stake, Wale manages to pull off the near impossible, setting out on a journey back to Nigeria that leads anywhere but home.

Nearly twenty years later, in present day South Africa, street kid Thursday Malaysius takes up smuggling something almost as precious—South African abalone—and quickly finds himself in over his head, with the police, the mob, and just about everybody else on his tail.

Compelled by the actions of these two men—and the nosy, troubled young daughter of a South African freedom fighter who has gone missing—Nigerians traces intersecting arcs in time and space from Houston to Stockholm, from Cape Town to Bulawayo, as the lives of Thursday and Wale spiral toward an unlikely collision.

Deji Olukotun’s debut novel, “Nigerians in Space,” defies categorization—a story of international intrigue that tackles deeper questions about exile, identity, and the need to answer an elusive question: what exactly is brain gain?

 

3 by Angolan / Portugese author Tavares

 

Learning to Pray in the Age of Technique

Gonçalo M. Tavares, Daniel Hahn

Dalkey Archive Press, 30 Aug 2011 – Fiction – 342 pages

In a city not quite of any particular era, a distant and calculating man named Lenz Buchmann works as a surgeon, treating his patients as little more than equations to be solved: life and death no more than results to be worked through without the least compassion. Soon, however, Buchmann’s ambition is no longer content with medicine, and he finds himself rising through the ranks of his country’s ruling party . . . until a diagnosis transforms this likely future president from a leading player into just another victim. In language that is at once precise, clinical, and oddly childlike, Gonc?alo M. Tavares-the Portuguese novelist hailed by Jose? Saramago as the greatest of his generation-here brings us another chilling investigation into the limits of human experience, mapping the creation and then disintegration of a man we might call “evil,” and showing us how he must learn to adapt in a world he can no longer dominate.

 

Jerrusalem

Gonçalo M. Tavares, Anna Kushner

Dalkey Archive Press, 17 Nov 2009 – Fiction – 222 pages

One morning late in May, between three and six A.M., a group of lonely men and women wait to be brought together, like the elements in an equation. Ernst Spengler is about to throw himself out his window. Mylia, terminally ill and in enormous pain, goes out to visit a church. Hinnerk Obst, who’s always been told by the neighborhood children that he looks like a murderer, walks the streets with a loaded gun.  As these characters are manipulated and brought together, a world of violence, fear, pain, and uncertainty is portrayed, where human nature itself, and the mechanisms determining our actions, our fictions, and the elements of our imagination, are laid bare.  Jerusalem is a terrifying and grimly humorous summation of the possibilities and limits of the human condition at the beginning of the 21st century.

 

Joseph Walser’s Machine
Gonçalo M. Tavares
Translated by Rhett McNeil
Daley Archive 2012
Continuing Tavares’s award-winning “Kingdom” series (begun in Jerusalem, winner of the Saramago Prize), Joseph Walser’s Machine recounts a life of bizarre routines and patterns. Routine humiliation at a factory; routine maintenance of the world’s most esoteric collection; and the most important routine of all: the operation of a mysterious machine on a factory floor. Yet all of Joseph Walser’s routines are violently disrupted when his city is occupied by an invading army, leaving him faced with political intrigues, marital discord, and finally, one last, catastrophic confrontation with his beloved machine.

Gonçalo M. Tavares was born in 1970 in Luanda. He has published numerous books since 2001 and has been awarded an impressive number of literary prizes in a very short time, including the Saramago Prize in 2005. He was also awarded the Prêmio Portugal Telecom de Literatura em Língua Portuguesa 2007 for Jerusalem.

 

George Anderson: Notes for a Love Song in Imperial Time

Peter Dimock

Dalkey Archive, 2013

Theo Fales is a one-time historian turned book editor who specializes in ghostwriting the memoirs of leading American policy-makers. For over twenty-five years, Theo has been helping retired generals and CIA directors justify their decisions in the first-person. One day, however, hearing a song at a colleague’s memorial service, Theo has a vision: he senses, in the music, a completely different way to live. He becomes obsessed by a need to align musical time with the metre of his own life and prose. Theo’s method opens onto two seemingly contradictory interior landscapes: one, a rage of identification with a college classmate who has written and signed the legal document justifying the use of torture by the US; the other, a love for the singer best known for her interpretations of the composer who wrote that vital song. Theo commits himself to the idea that only through his method will he be able to save himself. Is he mad, or has history itself lost its way?

 

Love is Power, Or Something Like That: Graywolf Cover
Igoni Barret

Graywolf Press
2012
When it comes to love, things are not always what they seem. In contemporary Lagos, a young boy may pose as a woman online, and a maid may be suspected of sleeping with her employer and yet still become a young wife’s confidant. Men and women can be objects of fantasy, the subject of beery soliloquies. They can be trophies or status symbols. Or they can be overwhelming in their need. In these wide-ranging stories, Igoni Barrett roams the streets with people from all stations of life. A man with acute halitosis navigates the chaos of the Lagos bus system. A minor policeman, full of the authority and corruption of his uniform, beats his wife. A family’s fortunes fall from love and wealth to infidelity and poverty, as poor choices unfurl over three generations. With humor and tenderness, Barrett introduces us to an utterly modern Nigeria, where desire is a means to an end, and love is a power as real as money.

 

Zakes Mda

Distributed for Seagull Books

Seagull Books – The Africa List

In the timeless kingdom of Mapungubwe, the royal sculptor had two sons, Chata and Rendani. As they grew, so grew their rivalry—and their extraordinary talents. But while Rendani became a master carver of the animals that run in the wild hills and lush valleys of the land, Chata learned to carve fantastic beings from his dreams, creatures never before seen on the Earth.

From this natural rivalry between brothers, Zakes Mda crafts an irresistibly rich fable of love and family. What makes the better art, perfect mimicry or inspiration? Who makes the better wife, a princess or a mysterious dancer? Ageless and contemporary, deceptive in its simplicity and mythical in its scope, The Sculptors of Mapungubwe encompasses all we know of love, envy, and the artist’s primal power to forge art from nature and nature into art. Mda’s newest novel will only strengthen his international reputation as one of the most trenchant voices of South Africa.

 

How to get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

Author: Mohsin Hamid

In this keenly-awaited follow-up to his bestselling The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid confirms his place as a radically inventive story-teller with his finger on the world’s pulse.

The astonishing and riveting tale of a man’s journey from impoverished rural boy to corporate tycoon, it steals its shape from the business self-help books devoured by youths all over ‘rising Asia’. It follows its nameless hero to the sprawling metropolis where he begins to amass an empire built on the most fluid and increasingly scarce of goods: water. Yet his heart remains set on something else, on the pretty girl whose star rises alongside his, their paths crossing and re-crossing in a love affair sparked and snuffed out again by the forces that careen their fates along.

The hero of the story could be any one of us, hungry for a different life. And ours too could be the fate that awaits him . . .

Fast-paced, vivid and emotionally absorbing, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia creates two unforgettable characters who find moments of transcendent intimacy in the midst of shattering change.

 
Glittering Gallows
Basil Diki
Publication Date: February 17, 2013
Langaa RPCIG (February 17, 2013)
Seduced at the age of fourteen by her foster father-cum-priest, Heidi Gaynor roamed the Docklands of London and wound up at a château in France. Now she is almost seventeen and ready for a decent livelihood, but isn’t aware an opportunity can reduce her to a vulgar necessity. When her new master’s wife, Katherine, is troubled if she really saw her billionaire husband in bed with their daughter, the rich man erupts. In her investigations, Katherine undergoes a “post mortem”. The billionaire must cover his back before secrets traceable to Gregory Rasputin consume his family. Regis is the billionaire’s vagrant nephew, a disillusioned graduate on a quest to unknot a crime that crippled his student-nurse fiancée. He thinks he must rob a bank and play a role prophesied when he was in his boyhood. Glittering Gallows is mainly set in France, South Africa and Australia.

Two Hangmen, One Scaffold Book I. Baiting the Hangman
Two Hangmen, One Scaffold Book II. In The Hangman’s Shadow
Basil Diki
Langaa RPCIG (February 14, 2012)
Publication Date: February 14, 2012 | Series: Two Hangmen, One Scaffold
When an ex-commando, a man seeking celebrity status, prepares to rob the Louvre Museum of the Mona Lisa, his ‘wife’ discovers that she is his mistress. In the eye of a cyclone, her son and she base their lives on hope. With a business proposal is another murderer prophesied as ‘a demon in human form’. At the Vatican, he once aspired to be the first black pope. He is angry with God and his eyes are set on a billion-dollar heist. The ex-priest baits his archenemy and makes his way to a scaffold. Of the happiness he found after cursing God, he is tired. Scars disfigure his manhood. The two men are fugitives lethally dangerous to the other. While the ex-priest desires to honour the same gods and spirits that wrecked his priesthood, the ex-commando must rise above his limitations or he risks total ruin.

 An Underground Colony of Summer Bees
Sanya Osha
ISBN 9789956727421 | 210 pages | 216 x 140 mm | 2012 | Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon | Paperback

A drug subculture finally becomes visible… indeed the themes of visibility and invisibility are what animate this haunting tale of loss, craving and abjection.

“Sanya Osha is one of the boldest and most distinctive voices in African writing today”.
Toyin Falola, Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters

“His writing is akin to a poetic trance that manages to convey an unexpected and taunting fragile beauty”
Hillary Raphael, author of I Love Lord Buddha

“The novel is blunt, eager to call a spade a spade. Scenes of crimes and of sex come with lucid and elaborate descriptions, a desire to show it as it is. It is also well researched, with all the slangs falling into their appropriate places. Osha is incapable of being unpoetic, and as such the novel itself can boast of being a long poem. Also characteristic of Osha, there is a sustained attempt to philosophise street life, some of it, heavy-handed, standing in the way of the narrative flow. Perhaps the overall importance of this novel is that it offers a window to glimpse at what many commentators on post-Apartheid South Africa have seen as the alarming rate of crimes in the society.”
Sule E. Egya Department of English IBB University, Lapai

“What the novelist inevitably paints as evil is the pointless force of a society and a world that compels ordinary people into extraordinarily complex forms of negation. In a world of slippery values and powerful transitions, we all become complicit. Nothing better illustrates the contradiction than the character Babongile…”
Obi Nwakanma, Vanguard, Nigeria

About the Author

Sanya Osha

Sanya Osha is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Naked Light and the Blind Eye. His fictional work, Dust, Spittle and Wind won the Association of Nigerian Authors’ prize for prose in 1992. In 2000, he was a recipient of a Prince Claus Award. He lives in South Africa and is currently a South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) fellow at the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation (IERI), Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria; and research fellow at the Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA), Pretoria.

The Iraqi Christ
Hassan Blasim
Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright

1905583524 | 978-1905583522
Comma Press

English Pen ** WINNER OF THE ENGLISH PEN WRITERS IN TRANSLATION AWARD **

‘Perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive…’
– The Guardian.

‘Required reading for a real taste of life in Iraq.’
- The National

‘An arrestingly vivid picture of the privation and the terrors of life in Iraq.’
– Herald Scotland.

‘He writes in a terse, unsettling but nevertheless lyrical style. There is the same queer mixture of clarity and disalignment you feel while reading Kafka’s short stories. It is the terrible clarity that comes with fear, where every particle of the street seems fresh and crisp, and it seems like these are your last impressions of the world.’
- 3:AM

‘Well-written, highly inventive, and difficult, Blasim reminded me what truly great writing can be.’
- Dead Ink Books.

A soldier with the ability to predict the future finds himself blackmailed by an insurgent into the ultimate act of terror…

A deviser of crosswords survives a car-bomb attack, only to discover he is now haunted by one of its victims…

Fleeing a robbery, a Baghdad shopkeeper falls into a deep hole, at the bottom of which sits a djinni and the corpse of a soldier from a completely different war…

From legends of the desert to horrors of the forest, Blasim’s stories blend the fantastic with the everyday, the surreal with the all-too-real. Taking his cues from Kafka, his prose shines a dazzling light into the dark absurdities of Iraq’s recent past and the torments of its countless refugees. The subject of this, his second collection, is primarily trauma and the curious strategies human beings adopt to process it (including, of course, fiction). The result is a masterclass in metaphor – a new kind of story-telling, forged in the crucible of war, and just as shocking.

‘At first, you receive Blasim with the kind of shocked applause you’d award a fairly transgressive stand-up. You’re quite elated. Then you stop reading it at bedtime. At his best, Blasim produces a corrosive mixture of broken lyricism, bitter irony and hyper-realism which topples into the fantastic and the quotidian in the same reading moment.’
– M John Harrison

Excuse Me!
Victor Ehikhamenor
Publication Date: December 18, 2012
Parresia Books (December 18, 2012)
EXCUSE ME! is a collection of humorous essays and keen observations about being Nigerian by Victor Ehikhamenor. Touching on politics, love, immigration, as well as other broad subjects, the book successfully weaves a satirical narrative around contemporary African experience.

 

NON FICTION

 

Thoughts on the New South Africa

Neville Alexander

2013-02-25

Jacana

Dr Neville Alexander, who passed away on 27 August 2012, was one of South Africa’s leading intellectuals and a former revolutionary who spent ten years on Robben Island as a fellow-prisoner of Nelson Mandela. The uncomfortable questions which he raised and the answers with which he wrestled will be exercising the minds of South Africans with increasing urgency both in the immediate and in the long-term future of this country.

Thoughts on the New South Africa is a collection of essays which Alexander brought together just before his death. It reflects on the main issues that preoccupied him throughout his life and sheds light on South African society today.

The three main issues included the fundamental necessity for South Africans to move away from race consciousness and think along the lines of far more real and relevant categories of class, gender and language; the importance of children learning to read, write and think in their own mother tongue while understanding the need for mastery in an international langague; and the struggle for a socialist world of justice and equality for all.

 

From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia

Pankaj Mishra

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 04 Sep 2012

A surprising, gripping narrative depicting the thinkers whose ideas shaped contemporary China, India, and the Muslim world.

A little more than a century ago, as the Japanese navy annihilated the giant Russian one at the Battle of Tsushima, original thinkers across Asia, working independently, sought to frame a distinctly Asian intellectual tradition that would inform and inspire the continent’s anticipated rise to dominance.

Asian dominance did not come to pass, and those thinkers—Tagore, Gandhi, and later Nehru in India; Liang Qichao and Sun Yatsen in China; Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Abdurreshi al Ibrahim in the ruins of the Ottoman Empire—are seen as outriders from the main anticolonial tradition. But Pankaj Mishra shows that it was otherwise in this stereotype-shattering book. His enthralling group portrait of like minds scattered across a vast continent makes clear that modern Asia’s revolt against the West is not the one led by faith-fired terrorists and thwarted peasants but one with deep roots in the work of thinkers who devised a view of life that was neither modern nor antimodern, neither colonialist nor anticolonialist. In broad, deep, dramatic chapters, Mishra tells the stories of these figures, unpacks their philosophies, and reveals their shared goal of a greater Asia.      Right now, when the emergence of a greater Asia seems possible as at no previous time in history, From the Ruins of Empire is as necessary as it is timely—a book essential to our understanding of the world and our place in it.

 

Rogue Urbanism: Emergent African Cities

Edgar Pieterse, AbdouMaliq Simone

Jacana Education, 01 Mar 2013 – 464 pages

The unique ambition of Rogue Urbanism is to produce new and relevant theoretical work on African urbanism in a way that works within the border zone between inherited theoretical resources and artistic representations of everyday practices and  phenomenology in African cities. The assumption is that urban theorists can renew and expand their search for grounded approaches to theorise African urbanism through an engagement with the epistemologies of artists, cultural practitioners and designers; and theorists who work on the urban condition and spatiality can find new entry points to enrich their own creative processes. Where reflections fail to work directly with the insights of artists, scholars can at least work through their understanding of the ordinary in the everyday, however this may manifest or inspire.
The hope of the editors is that Rogue Urbanism will provoke the passion of others to further enlarge and deepen the search for the rogue intensities that mark African cities as they find their voice and footing in a truly unwieldy world. Rogue Urbanism is both a call and a response, in hope of better understanding.

 

A collection of stories published in Drum Magazine in the 1980′s.

Credo Matwa

 

???

 

African Lives: An Anthology of Memoirs and Autobiographies

edited by Geoff Wisner

Lynne Rienner Publishers

The anthology presents selections from the work of many of Africas finest writers and most significant personalities from across the continent and spanning several centuries. Enhancing the material, Geoff Wisner s introduction and biographical notes provide important context for the selections and also highlight the challenges that African memoirs pose to the preconceptions of Western readers. The result is a book that is both an absorbing read and a valuable resource for courses on Africa.

 

The Hidden History of South Africa’s Book and Reading Cultures

Archie L. Dick

KZN University Press, 2013

The Hidden History of South Africa’s Book and Reading Cultures shows how the common practice of reading can illuminate the social and political history of a culture. This ground-breaking study reveals resistance strategies in the reading and writing practices of South Africans; strategies that have been hidden until now for political reasons relating to the country’s liberation struggles.

By looking to records from a slave lodge, women’s associations, army education units, universities, courts, libraries, prison departments, and political groups, Archie Dick exposes the key works of fiction and non-fiction, magazines, and newspapers that were read and discussed by political activists and prisoners.

Uncovering the book and library schemes that elites used to regulate reading, Dick exposes incidences of intellectual fraud, book theft, censorship, and book burning. Through this innovative methodology, Dick aptly shows how South African readers used reading and books to resist unjust regimes and build community across South Africa’s class and racial barriers.

‘The prose style is excellent, devoid of academic pretension and jargon, and contains the occasional memorable turn of phrase. The sources are comprehensive and impressive. Archie Dick makes skilful use of them to draw plausible and judicious conclusions from what is often inevitably relatively thin evidence.’

 

 

Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control

Medea Benjamin and Barbara Ehrenreich

Verso, 2013

Drone Warfare is the first comprehensive analysis of one of the fastest growing—and most secretive—fronts in global war: the rise of robot warfare. In 2000, the Pentagon had fewer than fifty aerial drones; ten years later, it had nearly 7,500. Drones are already a $5 billion business in the US alone; the US Air Force now trains more drone “pilots” than bomber and fighter pilots combined.

Medea Benjamin provides the first extensive analysis of who is producing the drones, where they are being used, who pilots these unmanned planes, and what are the legal and moral implications. In vivid, readable style, the book also looks at what activists, lawyers, and scientists across the globe are doing to ground these weapons. Benjamin argues that the assassinations we are carrying out from the air will come back to haunt us when others start doing the same thing—to us.

 

 

Global Nollywood: The Transnational Dimensions of an African Video Film Industry

Edited by Matthias Krings and Onookome Okome

Indian University Press

Series: African Expressive Cultures

Distribution: World

Publication date: 6/18/2013

ISBN: 978-0-253-00935-7

Global Nollywood considers this first truly African cinema beyond its Nigerian origins. In 15 lively essays, this volume traces the engagement of the Nigerian video film industry with the African continent and the rest of the world. Topics such as Nollywood as a theoretical construct, the development of a new, critical film language, and Nollywood’s transformation outside of Nigeria reveal the broader implications of this film form as it travels and develops. Highlighting controversies surrounding commodification, globalization, and the development of the film industry on a wider scale, this volume gives sustained attention to Nollywood as a uniquely African cultural production.

 

The Fierce Urgency of Now: Improvisation, Rights, and the Ethics of Co-creation

Daniel Fischlin, Ajay Heble, George Lipsitz

Duke University Press, 2013

The Fierce Urgency of Now links musical improvisation to struggles for social change, focusing on the connections between the improvisation associated with jazz and the dynamics of human rights struggles and discourses. The authors acknowledge that at first glance improvisation and rights seem to belong to incommensurable areas of human endeavor. Improvisation connotes practices that are spontaneous, personal, local, immediate, expressive, ephemeral, and even accidental, while rights refer to formal standards of acceptable human conduct, rules that are permanent, impersonal, universal, abstract, and inflexible. Yet the authors not only suggest that improvisation and rights can be connected; they insist that they must be connected.

By analyzing the dynamics of particular artistic improvisations, mostly by contemporary jazz musicians, the authors reveal improvisation as a viable and urgently needed model for social change. In the process, they rethink politics, music, and the connections between them.

 

AfroSurreal Manifesto: Black is the new black

D. Scot Miller

City Lights Books

A limited letterpress edition of 500 copies, produced as a companion piece to the exhibition Marvelous Freedom/Vigilance of Desire, Revisited at the Arcade Gallery of Columbia College Chicago which ran from January 28 to March 15, 2013. The exhibition was curated by Alexandria Eregbu with the help of Krista Franklin, Devin Cain, and Camille Morgan.

D. Scot Miller’s text was originally printed in the San Francisco Bay Guardian in May 2009. The curators responded to this text by choosing works of contemporary Chicago artists for this show which reflected the points outlined in Miller’s manifesto.

The book was offset printed by Clifton Meador on the heidelberg GTO with covers letterpress printed by April Sheridan and krista Franklin on the heidelberg Windmill. Designed by Ben Blount using elements from a mask drawn by Krista Franklin.

The text is set in Baskerville and Metropolis 1920. Printed on Mohawk Superfine Ultrawhite text and French Paper Speckletone Kraft cover.

 

In the Twilight

by Kayode Adedire

Publishers: Rolufol Publishers, Ibadan, 2013

In the Twilight is the revised edition of an earlier autobiography of journalist Kayode Adedire in which the author arrays the grave ills of playing Big Brother in a government owned media outfit. He equally highlights the disastrous results of this overbearing official approach to supervising the affairs of such organizations. The meddlesomeness of government functionaries and their agents such as members of the ruling party as well as personal friends and associates of governor or president serves to deny the nation of capable hands.

The enduring lesson from Kayode Adedire’s experience is that while it is necessary to have state-run media houses it is more absolutely needful to strike a healthy balance between a professionally functioning outfit adhering to all rules of the game and a media house that owes allegiance to the people that give custodial mandate to the government overseeing the activities of the newspaper or broadcast house.

In the Twilight  by Kayode Adedire has adequately addressed this great issue of modern times  through a look at his own experience  in the latter part of his eventful career. The book is a pleasant read, with the pages lit by good prose and names of some of the greats in the annals of electronic journalism in Nigeria. It’s a faithful recollection of a glorious age in Nigeria’s broadcast industry.

But poor pagination at the opening, some spelling errors and other mishaps number among a host of shortcomings in the book.

 

Sufi Narratives of Intimacy
Author(s):Sa’diyya Shaikh
Published By:University of Cape Town PressDate Published:1 November 2012296
Thirteenth-century Sufi poet, mystic and legal scholar Muhyi al-Din ibn al-’Arabi wrote much on gender as integral to questions of human existence and moral personhood. Reading his works through a critical feminist lens, Sa’diyya Shaikh opens fertile spaces in which new and creative encounters with gender justice in Islam can take place. Grounding her work in Islamic epistemology, Shaikh attends to the ways in which Sufi metaphysics and theology might allow for fundamental shifts in Islamic gender ethics and legal formulations, addressing wide-ranging contemporary challenges, including questions of women’s rights in marriage and divorce, the politics of veiling, and women’s leadership of ritual prayer. Drawing on the treasured works of Sufism, Shaikh raises a number of critical questions about the nature of selfhood, subjectivity, spirituality and society to contribute richly to the prospects of Islamic feminism as well as feminist ethics more broadly.

Odia Ofeimun

When does a Civil War come to an end?

2013

In his latest book, When does a civil war come to an end? Ofeimun highlights some political and historical falsehoods, the late Awolowo’s philosophies and the civil war questions raised in Achebe’s controversial book: There was a Country.

 

 

POETRY

 

One Little Guitar: The Complete Lyrics of Paul Job Kafeero.

Editor, Kathryn Barrett-Gaines

Fountain Publishers

There is no doubt that Paul Job Kafeero remains one of Uganda’s best kadongo kamu artistes – often applauded for blending education with entertainment. This legendary songbird that had mastered the sweetness of his vernacular, Luganda, and knew how to sculpt song out of it – gets immortalised in this book.

Inspired by love, and a sense of indebtedness to Uganda, Barrette-Gaines collected all songs composed and sang by Kafeero to make a book. The book renders in both English and Luganda all Kafeero’s songs and spices it with both private and public pictures.  As the editor notes, the English language is so limited it at times fails to capture the imagery and sweetness of Kafeero’s music.

 

Vivek Narayanan
 Life and Times of Mr S
HarperCollins
2012
Springboarding from the experiments with English started by writers like Desani and Raja Rao, linked to a way of speaking that is suppressed but already inside us, going through but also beyond parody, bending language, inventing metres, echoing one language inside another and exploring our complicated relationship to the past, Life and Times of Mr S is a book-length sequence of poems presenting a vision and sound that is both utterly recognisable and completely new. This unique and captivating book takes the experiments of G.V. Desani as a starting point and composes a chronicle of living language enacted around the person of Mr S. Lyric and narrative, parodic and reflective, Vivek Narayanan gives us a work of woof-confidence rich with mini-disquisitions on desire, guilt, food, caste, malls, etc. Life and Times of Mr S is a brilliant homage to an ever-morphing language and land. C.D. Wright Life and Times of Mr S worked on me like magic. It unsettled my notion of what was real, what possible, and resettled that notion in a strange luminous place. Narayanan uses what he sees as singular illusions to conjure a ‘pluriverse’ of his own, crowded with multiple, often polymorphous identities that, by their very nature, could be illusions too. This recalls the work (and play) of magician acrobats and Narayanan is one of them. I’m dazzled by his dexterity.

 

Controlled Decay
By: Gabriela Jauregui
Black Goat 2012

“This first collection marks a new mind terrain, radical tempos, and wild-style tropes in Latina Letters and all poetry today—breaks through with incredible caliber and impossible power. She is Hegel and Kahlo, Serpent and Zen, Cantina blade and Zapatista jungle.”
—Juan Felipe Herrera, author of 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border

“Jauregui displays perfect pitch: Her lyrics are not only generically rich, ranging as they do from visual poem and haiku to love poem, historical narrative, and elegy, but also impressive in their scope, range, empathy—and especially their authentic passion.”
—Marjorie Perloff

 

Tade Ipadeola
 The Sahara Testaments (2013).
a sequence of 1000 quatrains on the Sahara.

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