African Authors and Books in Gothenburg – Afrika2010

The annual Swedish book fair in Gothenburg this year has an Africa theme!

With the name Afrika2010, some 50(?) writers from 36 countries, a couple of hundred seminars and probably thousands and again thousands of book titles, the fair is opening on the 23rd September and lasting until the 26th.

“There is a strong interest in Africa right now, not at least thanks to the World Cup in South Africa in June. With the Africa focus of this year’s Book Fair, we will put the African literary scene in the lime light. Many new and already established writers and cultural workers will provide a more complex picture of this exciting continent”, says Carin Norberg, head of the Nordic Africa Institute which together with SIDA is supporting the thematic focus on Africa at the Bok&Bibliotek book fair.

Participants from Ghana includes: Akoss Ofori-Mensah (Sub-Saharan Publishers) and writers Yaba Badoe (True Murder came out last year) and  Meshack Asare (many childrens’ books including Children of the Tree).

I will very sadly not be able to make it to Afrika2010, but will be following this glorious event bringing together the African continent and its literature, likely reporting in this space. Oh, and I just saw one of my favorite artists, Dobet Gnahore is opening the fair!

The only comfort I have is that it seems Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Half of a Yellow Sun) is , just like me, too busy around this time to come to the Afrika2010 book fair in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Which African writer would have made you reschedule your plans and go to Gothenburg?

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Graduate Student Resources and a Laugh

Borrowed from

As I am now back in my office I had to read up on blogs I normally follow.

A favorite of mine is Chris Blattman, who even inspired my new blog both in content and style. Anyhoo, he posted among many more substantial things a funny link – the illustrated guide to a PhD.

It looks something like what you see to the left…”approaching the edge of human knowledge!” Haha! You just must see the whole thing! (click on the link above)

The funny guy coming up with this, Matt Might, also posted helpful book tips for graduate students (although I am missing Marian Petre’s brilliant The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research) as well as a list of productivity tips for academics – very useful as the fall semester approaches with speed!

This semester I will try to post research related posts on Fridays, lets see how it goes.

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Enjoying Malmö Library

Malmö Library Bibliotek Spent some time in the Malmö library (site in English courtesy of Google Translate) and was quite impressed.

The space is light, beautiful and functional. You can borrow books in all languages, DVD:s and music CDs. You can read newspapers and magazines from the whole world. You can learn about the Swedish and EU political systems and even have a cup of coffee.

Clockwise from top: Exterior, Newspaper room, reading chairs and books. Collage made with Picnik.

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Blog Book by Boakyewaa Glover

Circles Boakyewaa GloverWell, maybe it is a stretch to say that Circles by Boakyewaa Glover (click to go to her blog) is a blog book, it is maybe rather a book by a blogger.

On Friday, May 21st there is a book launch for Circles, a book I have already seen for sale at the Silverbird Bookstore in the Accra Mall. It looks good!

Another recent book by a Ghanablogging blogger was Pretending to be President by Ato Kwamina Dadzie. I have it here at home, but haven’t been able to snatch it from my husband who reads it and chuckles.

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No Planes? Words on a Aviation Free World

Air Plane, Paper plane, Alain de Botton, “recent writer-in-residence at Heathrow airport” (sic!) and also the writer of a wonderful little book On Love that had an impression on me, now dreams up a world without planes, of course relating to the volcanic disruptions of air traffic.

Everything would, of course, go very slowly. It would take two days to reach Rome, a month before one finally sailed exultantly into Sydney harbour. And yet there would be benefits tied up in this languor.

Those who had known the age of planes would recall the confusion they had felt upon arriving in Mumbai or Rio, Auckland or Montego Bay, only hours after leaving home, their slight sickness and bewilderment lending credence to the old Arabic saying that the soul invariably travels at the speed of a camel.

I urge you to read the whole BBC column by de Botton. It somehow has a soothingly effect on my nerves when I think about how the volcanic ash cloud may steal my summer in Sweden away from me…

Thanks to GeorgiaP for the tip!

Drawing borrowed from Kathy.

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>SLS Literary Contest

I challenge all the good writers I know to enter into the Summer Literary Seminars Unified Literary Contest, see a message from the organizers below:

Summer Literary Seminars is announcing its annual unified (Montreal, Lithuania and Kenya) literary contest, held this year in affiliation with Fence Magazine. We are thrilled this year to have Mary Gaitskill judging the fiction, and Mary Jo Bang judging the poetry.

Contest winners in the categories of fiction and poetry will have their work published in Fence, as well as the participating literary journals in Canada, Lithuania and Kenya. Additionally, they will have the choice of attending (airfare, tuition, and housing included) any one of the SLS-2010 programs – in Montreal, Quebec (June 13 – 27); Vilnius, Lithuania (August 1 – 14); or Nairobi-Lamu, Kenya (December).

To summarize, this contest has two really good prices,
1. publication in Fence magazine and
2. a sponsored stay at a writing workshop to develop one’s skills!

The catch? It costs 15 USD to enter the contest and the deadline is just around the corner (February 28, 2010).

Read more about the Summer Literary Seminars Unified Literary Contest here.

Pic: Write something someone else can read!

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>Ghana Guide on the Web

> The Bradt Travel Guide to Ghana (most recent edition is 2007) by Philip Briggs is now available on the web with Google books! See link here.

This guide is positively personable, amazingly accurate and dot on detailed (including great maps of places before Google Maps even existed!). I recommend it to anyone coming this way!

In the pic: Me and my husband being tourists in our country, I think around xmas 2007.

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>Chimamanda Adichie: The Problem of A Single Story


A storyteller has as a job to tell stories that are engaging and important. Chimamanda Adichie‘s account of how single stories have inflicted on her life – and on the African countries we love, is both engaging and important. The single (negative) image of “Africa” that I have been trying to complement in 200+ blog posts here on Rain In Africa, she covers in under 20 minutes.

And luckily, it has been recorded as a TED speech that I can recommend to all of you. For you who are temporarily busy, her powerful conclusion can suffice for now – but when you have time, do listen to her in full.

When we reject the single story, we regain paradise.

Chimamanda Adichie most known works are: Half Of A Yellow Sun (I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about this book – I adored it) and Purple Hibiscus.

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>Don’t Confuse Urban Africa, The Blog with…

> …The web store Urban Africa

…The book Urban Africa by Simone and Abouhani (2005)

…The Flickr album Urban Africa which has following overlapping raison d’etre with this blog:

Africa has untold vital urban spaces and a rich legacy of a 2.000 years long history of urbanization. However, in the vast majority of flickr groups related to Africa, nature and wildlife photography are predominant. Africa appears as a rural and ‘exotic’ scenery where humans, animals and landscapes build a more ore less harmonious unity.

Pic of a Bead and Wire Ndebele Radio that can be purchased on the Urban Africa store website.

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>African Literature in the Making: Harmattan Rain

> Yesterday, I found some information on facebook about a book by a Ghanaian writer, Ayesha Harruna Attah that came out a few months ago. Her book is called Harmattan Rain, an interesting choice of title that suggests conflicts, since harmattan is the dry season which normally no not include any rains. You can read an exerpt at the Publish Your Story blog (that amongst others feature Ghanablogging‘s own Maameous among their friends) here.

I take a great interest in Ghanaian and West African literature, simply because I want to learn about life in Ghana – and what better way to learn than from books?

About the book from the author herself:

A few years before Ghana’s independence, Lizzie-Achiaa’s lover disappears. Intent on finding him, she runs away from home. Akua Afriyie, Lizzie-Achiaa’s first daughter, strikes out on her own as a single parent in a country rocked by successive coups. Her daughter Sugri grows up overprotected. She leaves home for university in New York, where she learns that sometimes one can have too much freedom. Eventually, the secrets parents keep from their children catch up with them.

What was especially fascinating about this book, if I got it crrectly, was that it was concieved at an African literature center, where a few talanted students are invited each year for a nine month (!) sejour that – if all works out – ends with a book. The center is called Per Ankh as situated in Dakar, Senegal.

There is so much talent in Africa that go unharvested. I think initiatives like Per Ankh could be one way of changing that. What do you think?

Cover pic borrowed from the author.

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>Book of the Month: Reading the Ceiling

> I came across an interesting-looking book in the Silverbird Bookstore in the Accra mall last week and now that I have finished it, I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

The book “Reading the Celiling” is written by the Gambian author Dayo Foster. It is Foster’s first novel, and it is an excellent first attempt, producing a lovely main character in reasoning young woman Ayodele and other believable characters like her strict mother, warm Auntie K, annoying Moira, desirable Yuan and kind priest Foday Sillah.

Her description of everyday life in West Africa is also spot on with descriptions of beach outings complete with ice-chests and bbq, a daunty rented two-room house, an altruistic choice of career in Mali and the profitable Mercedes business in the Gambia.

But it is not an “African novel” per se, it is a successful literary examination of choices we ahvein life which made me revisit some of the choices I have made thinking about their possible alternatives.

I enjoy books which take you to another world in which you look around and find the familiar faces and locations as described in the book. Crafting that kind of “real” world in a novel is likely very difficult since just a choice of a few words, saying too much or too little can distort the picture in my head.

The first few pages about Ayodele’s choice that will come to determine her life can be read here, in a website constructed for the book. The site also has more information about the young author and some extras for us who have read her book already. I say, join the club!

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>Kokrobite Beach Vacation

> There’s a beach just west of Accra called Kokrobite that seems so far from my everyday life of metro-boulot-dodo, but in geographical terms is not. This is where I spent this past weekend.

Kokrobite(some native English-speakers spell it Kokrobitey to underline the correct pronunciation, including the “e”) is situated one hour from Tema, 30 minutes from Accra on a good day with little traffic around Mallam junction leading out west from Accra. This backpackers hide-out is complete with cheap accommodation (can wholly recommend Bah’doosh where I stayed this time), Rastafarians, palm trees, cold beer and a beautiful and crowded beach with a glittering and wavy ocean.

Everytime I go, I bring only a pair of flip-flops, a piece of African print that can make a dress or a wrap or a towel or a headgear, a flowy white cotton top to avoid sunburn and my colorful patchwork trousers (bought in Kokrobite last year)- all of which goes with a bikini and some beads around the wrists.

My husband and I also take a long the books we never get to read. In the mornings we have breakfast in the shade reading together, something that is terribly nerdy, I know, but just screams vacation to me. Swedish celebrity blogger Alexandra Pascalidou has made beach life her everyday life in Thailand for a couple of months. It should be possible to do the same in Ghana.

Some people might have ulterior and somewhat more “smokey” reasons to come to Kokrobite, but as for me I just find it relaxing without any additives. It is like I took a plane to vacation land. But I didn’t. Did I say this place is an hour away from home?

Pic: This is how happy I feel on the beach.

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