Book reviews – long list

Life and a Half A Novel
Sony Labou Tansi

Translated by Alison Dundy, Introduction by Dominic Thomas
Indiana University, Series: Global African Voices
1/18/2011
Listed as one of the 100 best books on Africa, Life and a Half was Sony Labou Tansi’s response to the death of close friends during a bloody military and political crackdown in Congo. The novel takes place in an imaginary African country run by the latest in a series of cannibalistic dictators who has captured Martial, the leader of the opposition, and his family. Though shot, knifed, butchered, and bled, Martial’s spirit lives on to guide his followers in their fight against the dictators. Facing censorship, Tansi insisted that his book was a fable and that if he were ever given the opportunity to write about real events, he would be much more direct rather than follow the torturous paths of a novel. This crisp translation by Alison Dundy maintains the fast-paced action and bitingly satiric tone of the original.

The Devil in Silver: A Novel
Victor LaValle

Spiegel & Grau (August 21, 2012)
“Literary horror just found a new master. Profound, and profoundly terrifying, Victor LaValle’s The Devil in Silver is a page-turning delight.”—Gary Shteyngart
“The Devil in Silver is the rare work that takes seemingly disparate parts and brings them together seamlessly into something entirely original. There is madness here, and it is infused with brilliance, and the result is a story that is as illuminating as it is entertaining.”—Mat Johnson, author of Pym
The Devil in Silver brilliantly brings together the compelling themes that spark all of Victor LaValle’s radiant fiction: faith, race, class, madness, and our relationship with the unseen and the uncanny. More than that, it’s a thrillingly suspenseful work of literary horror about friendship, love, and the courage to slay our own demons.

Fine Boys
Eghosa Imasuen

Farafina-Kachifo
May 30, 2012

“With Fine Boys, Eghosa Imasuen proves himself to be a keen observer of Nigerian urban life. He has written an unflinching and witty book, difficult to resist, impossible to ignore. He imbues his energetic prose and compelling characters with candour, grace, and pidgin inventiveness. A writer to watch.”
—A. Igoni Barrett, author of From Caves of Rotten Teeth

“Fine Boys is the first African novel I know that takes us deep into the world of the children of IMF: those post-Berlin wall Africans, like myself, who came of age in the days of The Conditionalities, those imposed tools and policies that made our countries feral; the days that turned good people into beasts, the days that witnessed the great implosion and scattering of the middle classes of a whole continent. Fine Boys takes us deep into the lives of the notorious gangs that took over universities all over Nigeria in the 1990s and early this century. We saw our universities collapse, and we struggled to educate ourselves through very harsh times. It is a beautifully written novel, heartfelt, deeply knowledgeable, funny, a love story, a tragedy; an important book, a book of our times; a book for all Africans everywhere.”–Binyavanga Wainaina, author of One Day I Will Write about This Place

Crossbones
Nuruddin Farah

Riverhead September 1, 2011
“This timely book . . . is politically courageous and often gripping . . . Crossbones provides a sophisticated introduction to present-day Somalia, and to the circle of poverty and violence that continues to blight the country.” (-The New York Times Book Review )
“Harrowing without resorting to sensationalism, this highly topical final volume in Farahs’s Past Imperfect trilogy should burnish his well- deserved reputation. It is dense, complex stuff, but his brave and imperfect characters are a pleasure to follow. [A] gripping but utterly humane thriller set in one of the least understood regions on earth.” (-Kirkus Reviews )
“Farah writes enthrallingly about his native Somalia. . . . Expect sharp insight into both human nature and secretarian strife, told in illuminating language free of cant.”
(-Library Journal )
Completing the trilogy that began with Links and Knots, Crossbones is a fascinating look at individuals caught in the maw of zealotry, profiteering, and political conflict, by one of our most highly acclaimed international writers.

Sounds of a Cowhide Drum/ Imisindo Yesighubu Sesikhumba Senkomo
Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali.

Jacana 2012
Originally published in 1971 by Lionel Abrahams’ Renoster Books, it quickly became a classic but has been unavailable for many years. The new edition carries a simultaneous isiZulu translation of the poems, and a new foreword by Nadine Gordimer.
“Poetry is the language of emotions and a medium for articulating feelings, opinions, ideas, thoughts and beliefs. Much more than an artistic pastime, it is the spiritual repository of human dreams which originate from the depths of the subconscious.”
– Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali, The Light of the Poetic Spirit, SGI Quarterly

Ivan Vladislavić
A Labour of Moles

Cahier Series from Sylph editions
December 2011
“I found myself in the thick of things. I shut my eyes experimentally, opened them again. If I was dreaming, the scene should change – but no, everything was exactly as it had been before.”
So begins A Labour of Moles, by one of South Africa’s most important writers, Ivan Vladislavic: a story which takes the reader into a realm utterly alien and at the same time as familiar as the letters forming the words on the page and the very building-blocks of fiction.

The Loss Library

Seagull Books – The Africa List
“In the tradition of Elias Canetti, a tour de force of the imagination.”—André Brink
“The prose is stunning. It gives the impression of the words and the phrases having been caught from the inside—as though the author lives on the other side of language, where every word is strange and dancing, and the way they are put together produces complicated patterned exchanges like minuets.”—Tony Morphet
“Not writing is always a relief and sometimes a pleasure. Writing about what cannot be written, by contrast, is the devil’s own job.”
In this unusual text, a blend of essay, fiction, and literary genealogy, South African novelist Ivan Vladislavic explores the problems and potentials of the fictions he could not bring himself to write.
Drawing from his notebooks of the past twenty years, Vladislavic records here a range of ideas for stories—unsettled accounts, he calls them, or case studies of failure—and examines where they came from and why they eluded him. In the process, he reveals some of the principles that matter to him as a writer, and pays tribute to the writers— such as Walser, Perec, Sterne, and DeLillo—who have been important to him as both a reader and an author. At the heart of the text, like a brightly lit room in a field of debris, stands Vladislavic’s Loss Library itself, the shelves laden with books that have never been written. On the page, Vladislavic tells us, every loss may yet be recovered.
An extraordinary book about both the nature of novels and the process of writing, The Loss Library will appeal to anyone seeking to understand the almost magical and mythical experience of breathing life into a new work of fiction.

Ambiguous Adventure
Cheikh Hamidou Kane

Translated by Katherine Woods
Part of The Neversink Library
The celebrated classic by a groundbreaking figure in African literature addresses a critical contemporary issue—the collision of Islamic African values and Western culture.
Hailed by Chinua Achebe as one of the greatest African novels ever written, this long-unavailable classic tells the tale of young Samba Diallo, a devout pupil in a Koranic school in Senegal whose parents send him to Paris to study philosophy.

Blue White Red A Novel
Alain Mabanckou

Translated by Alison Dundy
Indiana University Global African Voices
3/15/2013
First published by Présence Africaine in 1998, Mabanckou’s first novel won the Prix de la Société des poètes français. More than a decade after its release its finally available in translation. Named after the colors in the French tricolor flag, Bleu Blanc Rouge tells the story of a Congolese man who attains his dream of living in France,only to discover a difficult reality of hardship and racism in his erstwhile promised land.

Memoirs of a Porcupine
Soft Skull Press
April 17, 2012
All human beings, says an African legend, have an animal double. Some doubles are benign, others wicked. This legend comes to life in Alain Mabanckou’s outlandish, surreal, and charmingly nonchalant Memoirs of a Porcupine.
When Kibandi, a boy living in a Congolese village, reaches the age of 11, his father takes him out into the night and forces him to drink a vile liquid from a jar that has been hidden for years in the earth. This is his initiation. From now on, he and his double, a porcupine, become accomplices in murder. They attack neighbors, fellow villagers, and people who simply cross their path, for reasons so slight that it is virtually impossible to establish connection between the killings. As he grows older, Kibandi relies on his double to act out his grizzly compulsions, until one day even the porcupine balks and turns instead to literary confession.
Winner of the Prix Renaudot, France’s equal to the National Book Award, Alain Mabanckou is considered one of the most talented writers today. He was selected by the French journal Lire as one of fifty writers to watch this coming century. And as Peter Carey suggests, he “positions himself at the margins, tapping the tradition founded by Celine, Genet, and other subversive writers.” In this superb and striking story, Mabanckou brings new power to magical realism, and is sure to excite American audiences nationwide.

Transit A Novel
Abdourahman A. Waberi

Translated by David Ball and Nicole Ball
Indiana University: Global African Voices
7/30/2012
Waiting at the Paris airport, two immigrants from Djibouti reveal parallel stories of war, child soldiers, arms trafficking, drugs, and hunger. Bashir is recently discharged from the army and wounded, finding himself inside the French Embassy. Harbi, whose wife, Alice, has been killed by the police, is there too—arrested earlier as a political suspect. An embassy official mistakes Bashir for Harbi’s son, and as Harbi does not deny it, both will be exiled to France, Alice’s home country. This brilliantly shrewd and cynical universal chronicle of war and exile, translated into English for the first time, amounts to a lyrical and reflective history of Djibouti and its tortuous politics, crippled economy, and devastated moral landscape.

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.

The Weight of Temptation
Ana María Shua
Translated by Andrea G. Labinger
2012. 200 pp.
University Nebraska Press, Latin American Women Writers Series
ystopian fantasy, political parable, morality tale—however one reads it, this novel is first and foremost pure Ana María Shua, a work of fiction like no other and a dark pleasure to read. Shua, an Argentinian writer widely celebrated throughout Latin America, frames her complex drama in deceptively simple, straightforward prose. The story takes place at a fat farm called The Reeds, a nightmare world that might not exist but certainly could. The last resort of the overweight wealthy (or sponsored), The Reeds subjects its “campers” to extreme measures—particularly the regimented system of public humiliation imposed by its director, a glib and sharp-minded sadist called the Professor.
Into the midst of this methodical madness comes Marina Rubin, who experiences all the excesses of The Reeds. The pervasive cruelty of this refined novel distances it from facile conclusions. Amid the mordant social satire, The Reeds’ obese campers are far more than merely victims of the system, subjected to impossible social demands for physical perfection. Out of control, fierce, rebellious, or subjugated, they are recognizable human beings, contending with an unjust but efficient authority in their unique and solitary ways.

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.

Imraan Coovadia
The Institute of Taxi Poetry

Umuzi, 2012. ISBN 9781415201657
Solly Greenfields, the first of the taxi poets, has been shot dead. At the Institute for Taxi Poetry, where they train young people to write poetry on the bodywork of Cape Town’s taxis, Solly’s protégé Adam Ravens tries to make sense of his death. Who killed Solly, and why is Adam’s son acting so odd?
In the world of Imraan Coovadia’s new tragicomic novel taxi companies thrive in a single-party state. Taxi poets are admired, sliding-door men rule, professors and politicians strut and fret and connive in a society shaped by violence and ambition, love, and the unsettling power of the imagination.

*

A Chinese Life
by Li Kunwu and Philippe Ôtié
Translated by Edward Gauvin
SelfMadeHero in July 2012.
“Li Kunwu spent more than 30 years as a state artist for the Communist Party. He saw firsthand what was happening to his family, his neighbors, and his homeland during this extraordinary time. Working with French diplomat Philippe Ôtié, the artist has created a memoir of self and state, a rich, very human account of a major historical moment with contemporary consequences.”

Li’s epic memoir, serialised in France between 2009 and 2011, was co-written with French writer and diplomat Ôtié. If you don’t know your Chinese history, parts of it will mystify, and stretches of this 700-page odyssey drag a little. But this very human march through the making of modern China deserves a wide audience.

*

Metro
A Story of Cairo
Magdy El Shafee, translated by Chip Rossetti
Henry Holt and Co.
Metropolitan Books
June 2012
For proof of the power of comics, look no further than Metro… It is not hard to see why the dictatorship was alarmed by the novel. In a deft black-and-white portrait of Cairo and its neighborhoods, a thriller unfolds along the metro system, giving a powerful insight into why the revolution took place.”
—Newsweek

“There are twists and turns, murders and shadowy conspiracies… The Byzantine plot is saturated with a political commentary on the state of today’s Egypt, depicted as a deeply dysfunctional country whose citizens take government corruption and repression as a given.”
—The National (Abu Dhabi)

“A visual record of the zeitgeist, filled with poverty, sexual frustration, corruption, and abuse… Part thriller, part love story, part socio-political commentary.”
—Daily News Egypt

*

A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola
by Ricardo Cortes
Akashicbooks , October 2012
This book is an incredible work of artistic journalism. Armed with color pencils and an eye for detail, Cortes has produced a beautiful and subversive history of how that bottle of Coke ended up in your fridge. Cortes weaves his people’s history with meticulously and gorgeously crafted drawings–many of them recreations of the primary documents he uses to tell his story. The end product is a damning, epic tale of hypocrisy: while the US government leads the charge to criminalize the 10 million people who chew coca, it has simultaneously conspired with a multinational beverage giant to ensure an endless supply of coca to fuel its profits.”
–Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army

A
RICARDO CORTES is best known for illustrating the #1 New York Times best-selling classic Go the F*** to Sleep; and the G-rated follow-up Seriously, Just Go to Sleep. Cortes first gained notoriety after his debut, It’s Just a Plant: A Children’s Book about Marijuana, sparked controversy from the O’Reilly Factor to Capitol Hill. He has illustrated books about electricity, the Jamaican bobsled team, and jury nullification; his work has also been featured in Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, New York Post, Village Voice, San Francisco Chronicle, and on CNN and FOX News. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

*

Pao The Anthology of Comics 1
Pao Collective
Penguin Books
For years now, the media has been officially declaring the dawn of a new era in Indian comic book culture. But despite the launch of numerous titles, conventions and magazines, the practice of the art form that intersperses text, drawing and photography to tell a story, has not only been scattered, it has lacked wisdom. It is no surprise then that comic books have never been taken seriously by the mainstream, are often dismissed as being low on literary merit, and accused of being a bastard medium with an unconventional taste for design and speech bubbles.
But times are changing. Close on the heels of Blaft’s Obliterary Journal comes the outstanding anthology from the Pao Collective. Here, you not only have the old guard comprising Sarnath Banerjee, Orijit Sen, Vishwajyoti Ghosh and Raj Comics jostling for panels, but newer nameslike Vidyun Sabhaney, Pia Hazarika and Sanjay Ghosh, who bring fresh perspective. Also on board are well-known writers Samit Basu and Ambarish Satwik. Together, they offer a wide range of graphic tales including a lost episode of the Mahabharata retold in manga (the Japanese comic book art form) with a hold-your-belly-and-laugh wit, and a story about establishing contact with aliens through a fiction contest. Other stories feature a man who turns into a flamingo and nostalgia for the first Nike shoes in Pre-liberalised India. The collection is glued together with stunning and, in some cases, surreal art. What the collection misses out on is a non-fiction narrative. One hopes future editions will take care of that. All in all, Pao is a must for those who want an introduction to Indian comics and a glimpse of what the future holds. A collection that is long overdue.

London’s Overthrow
by China Mieville
    The Westbourne Press
    September 2012
A lyrical, poweful polemic about London today, from Occupy and
the August 2011 riots to the Jubilee and the Olympics
Miéville is an award-winning author with a cult following
Extensive media campaign, including print, radio and online.
Author events planned across London; and to appear at Edinburgh
festival 2012
‘China Miéville does more than reveal the skull beneath the
London’s scabby, piebald skin; he offers effervescent nourishment
for the downpressed souls that stalk the streets of his divided city.
Anybody who wants to know what has happened here – in the
ground zero of a failed neoliberal experiment – must start with his
unsettling panorama.’ Paul Gilroy

AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers
Edited by Ivor W. Hartmann
Storytime 2012
AfroSF is the first ever anthology of Science Fiction by African writers only that was open to submissions from African writers across Africa and abroad. Due for release in Dec 2012, ebook edition first print edition later, and is comprised of original works only. Contributors include Nnedi Okorafor, Sarah Lotz, Chinelo Onwualu, Uko Bendi Udo, Mandisi Nkomo, Chiagozie Fred Nwonwu, Mia Arderne, Efe Okogu and more.

 

Two on Bourdieu

Picturing Algeria
Pierre Bourdieu; Foreword by Craig Calhoun
Columbia University Press
May, 2012
As a soldier in the French army, Pierre Bourdieu took thousands of photographs documenting the abject conditions and suffering (as well as the resourcefulness, determination, grace, and dignity) of the Algerian people as they fought in the Algerian War (1954–1962). Sympathizing with those he was told to regard as “enemies,” Bourdieu became deeply and permanently invested in their struggle to overthrow French rule and the debilitations of poverty.
Upon realizing the inability of his education to make sense of this wartime reality, Bourdieu immediately undertook the creation of a new ethnographic-sociological science based on his experiences—one that became synonymous with his work over the next few decades and was capable of explaining the mechanics of French colonial aggression and the impressive, if curious, ability of the Algerians to resist it.
This volume pairs 130 of Bourdieu’s photographs with key excerpts from his related writings, very few of which have been translated into English. Many of these images, luminous aesthetic objects in their own right, comment eloquently on the accompanying words even as they are commented upon by them. Bourdieu’s work set the standard for all subsequent ethnographic photography and critique. This volume also features a 2001 interview with Bourdieu, in which he speaks to his experiences in Algeria, its significance on his intellectual evolution, his role in transforming photography into a means for social inquiry, and the duty of the committed intellectual to participate in an increasingly troubled world.

Conversations with Bourdieu – The Johannesburg Moment
Karl van Holt, Michael Burawoy

WITS Press, 2012
onversations with Bourdieu presents the first comprehensive attempt at a critical engagement with Bourdieu’s theory as a totality. Michael Burawoy constructs a series of imaginary conversations between Bourdieu and his nemesis – Marxism – from which he silently borrowed so much. Starting with Marx, and proceeding through Gramsci, Fanon, Freire, de Beauvoir, and Mills, Burawoy takes up the challenge Bourdieu presents to Marxism, simultaneously developing a critique of Bourdieu and a reconstruction of Marxism.
Karl Von Holdt, in turn, brings these conversations to South Africa, showing the relevance of Bourdieu’s ideas to a country he never visited. Armed with Bourdieu, Von Holdt takes up some of the most pressing social and political issues of contemporary South Africa: the relation between symbolic and real violence, the place of intellectuals in public life, the intervention of gender in politics, the grappling with race, the critique of education, the importance of habitus, the history and future of class mobilisation, and the legacy of the liberation struggle.

Art books

SPace
Thembinkosi Goniwe
Co-published by Africa World Press, Unisa Press & Cassava Republic
This is a catalogue of artworks and essays that formed the exhibition SPace: Currencies in Contemporary African Art. Curated by Thembinkosi Goniwe and Melissa Mboweni, the exhibition was held at Museum Africa in Newtown, Johannesburg, from 11th May to 11th July 2010. Space featured 25 artists, 4 art collectives and 6 writers whose work provided creative and intellectual dialogue, which in personal and intimate ways animates imaginative and reflective engagement with social matters and human experiences in contemporary Africa and the Diaspora.
Contributors include Simon Njami, Abebe Zegeye, Bettina Malcomess, Jimmy Ogonga, Raphael Chikukwa and Monica Arac de Nyeko. Some of the featured artists include Willem Boshoff, Berni Searle, Barthélémy Toguo, Berry Bickle, Mary Sibande, David Koloane, Godfried Donker, Nandipha Mntambo, Dominique Zinkpé, Miriam Syowia Kyambi and Billie Zangewa. Collectives include El Hassan Echair and Imad Mansour of Collectif 212, Gugulective, Avant Car Guard and Chimurenga.

über(W)unden: Art in Troubled Times

Edited by Lien Heidenreich-Seleme, and Sean O’Toole
Jacana 2012
über(w)unden: Art in Troubled Times is a wide-ranging and illustration-rich investigation into how African and German artists from different disciplines have creatively engaged with social trauma. The book is an edited selection of material generated at a conference hosted by the Goethe-Institut, in 2011; crucially, the book expands on the original material to offer a standalone document, and includes contributions by, amongst others, William Kentridge, Zanele Muholi, Kudzanai Chiurai, Sindiwe Magona, Antjie Krog, Faustin Linyekula, Emmanuel Jal, Djo Munga, Marcel Odenbach and Dierk Schmidt.

Postcolonial Artists and Global Aesthetics
Akin Adesokan

Indiana University, Series: African Expressive Cultures
9/30/2011
What happens when social and political processes such as globalization shape cultural production? Drawing on a range of writers and filmmakers from Africa and elsewhere, Akin Adesokan explores the forces at work in the production and circulation of culture in a globalized world. He tackles problems such as artistic representation in the era of decolonization, the uneven development of aesthetics across the world, and the impact of location and commodity culture on genres, with a distinctive approach that exposes the global processes transforming cultural forms.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing

January, 2012
Cloth, 120 pages,
ISBN: 978-0-231-15950-0
A masterful writer working in many genres, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o entered the East African literary scene in 1962 with the performance of his first major play, The Black Hermit, at the National Theatre in Uganda. In 1977 he was imprisoned after his most controversial work, Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want), produced in Nairobi, sharply criticized the injustices of Kenyan society and unequivocally championed the causes of ordinary citizens. Following his release, Ngũgĩ decided to write only in his native Gĩkũyũ, communicating with Kenyans in one of the many languages of their daily lives, and today he is known as one of the most outspoken intellectuals working in postcolonial theory and the global postcolonial movement.

Our Kind Of People A Continent’s Burden, a Country’s Hope
by Uzodinma Iweala

HarperCollins, 10 Jul 2012
2005 Uzodinma Iweala stunned readers and critics alike with Beasts of No Nation, his debut novel about child soldiers in West Africa. Now his return to Africa has produced Our Kind of People, a non-fiction account of the AIDS crisis every bit as startling and original. HIV/AIDS has been reported as one of the most destructive diseases in recent memory—tearing apart communities and ostracizing the afflicted. But the emphasis placed on death, destruction, and despair hardly captures the many and varied effects of the epidemic, or the stories of the extraordinary people who live and die under its watch.
Our Kind of People opens our minds to these stories, introducing a new set of voices and altering the way we speak and think about disease. Iweala embarks on a remarkable journey through his native Nigeria, meeting individuals and communities that are struggling daily to understand both the impact and meaning of HIV/AIDS. He speaks with people from all walks of life—the ill and the healthy, doctors, nurses, truck drivers, sex workers, shopkeepers, students, parents, and children. Their testimonies are by turns uplifting, alarming, humorous, and surprising, and always unflinchingly candid. Integrating his own experiences with these voices, Iweala creates at once a deeply personal exploration of life, love, and connection in the face of disease, and an incisive critique of our existing ideas of health and happiness.

Biko: The Biography | Biography
Xolela Mangcu

Tafelberg
2012-09-12
The first comprehensive biography of an exceptional and inspirational leader who changed South African history. As leading anti-apartheid activist and thinker, Biko created Black Consciousness, which has resonance to this day. His death by torture, at the hands of the police, robbed South Africa of one of its most gifted leaders. Biko’s intellectual legacy cannot be overestimated.

The Best of Quest
Laeeq Futehally (Author, Editor), Achal Prabhala (Editor), Arshia Sattar (Editor)

Tranquebar Press, 2011
Quest was an intel- lectual rite of passage: many of the boldface names that light up newspapers, magazines, academic journals and even television screens today, first made their mark with a piece in here. The Best of Quest is a collection of some of the most striking essays, poems and stories to have appeared in the pages of the magazine. In an era not long past, Quest was the sign of the times. But such a sign and such a time it was that reading the magazine now is illuminating in an absolutely contem- porary sense. Like its counterparts across the world – Transition in Africa, Encounter in the USA/UK, Quad- rant in Australia, and its fellow publication, Imprint in India – Quest was ideologically free-wheeling and stood for “cultural freedom”, a term not free of complication, given the dirty tricks of the cold war. What endures from that era is this: a testament to a time when writ- ers and readers were renaissance people; a time when independent thought reigned supreme.

Universal Beach and Short Prayer
Vivek Narayanan

Narayanan’s eclectic, exceptionally intelligent, sometimes stellar debut should change that. Raised partly in Africa, well-traveled in the U.S., Narayanan now writes and edits verse and prose from Delhi. His settings, and attitudes, speak to all three continents.

A Bit of Difference
Sefi Atta

Interlink Pub Group (September 20, 2012)
“Atta’s splendid writing sizzles with wit and compassion. This is an immensely absorbing book.” –Chika Unigwe, author of On Black Sisters Street
“An up-close portrait of middle-class Nigeria exploring the boundaries of morals and public decorum. Pitched between humor and despair, with stripped-down, evocative prose, A Bit of Difference bristles with penknife-sharp dialogue, but its truths are more subtle, hiding in the unspoken. Ultimately, A Bit of Difference explores -with a hint of mischief-the problem of how to look like you have no problems when you have abundant problems-the universal problem of the socially-motivated classes.”-Nii Parkes, author of Tail of the Blue Bird
At thirty-nine, Deola Bello, a Nigerian expatriate in London, is dissatisfied with being single and working overseas. Deola works as a financial reviewer for an international charity, and when her job takes her back to Nigeria in time for her father’s five-year memorial service, she finds herself turning her scrutiny inward. In Nigeria, Deola encounters changes in her family and in the urban landscape of her home, and new acquaintances who offer unexpected possibilities. Deola’s journey is as much about evading others’ expectations to get to the heart of her frustration as it is about exposing the differences between foreign images of Africa and the realities of contemporary Nigerian life. Deola’s urgent, incisive voice captivates and guides us through the intricate layers and vivid scenes of a life lived across continents. With Sefi Atta’s characteristic boldness and vision, A Bit of Difference limns the complexities of our contemporary world. This is a novel not to be missed.

How Shall We Kill the Bishop and Other Stories
Lily Mabura

Heinemann African Writers Series, 15 Mar 2012
An artist in mourning for a brother who died fighting in Bosnia, a restless young woman alerted to the possibility of life outside her tight knit community, an unemployed lawyer lingering in a Kenyan hospital – Lily Mabura’s first collection of short stories deals with characters whose fates fascinate and alarm.
Set in Kenya, the USA, Namibia and the Congo, these brief, evocative tales demonstrate an acute sensitivity to the globalised trajectories which increasingly distinguish our world.
One of Kenya’s most promising authors, Lily Mabura’s story ‘How Shall We Kill the Bishop?’ was shortlisted for the 2010 Caine Prize for African Fiction

Chioniso and Other Stories
Shimmer Chinodya
2012 | Weaver Press, Zimbabwe

In this new collection, Chioniso and other stories, we are once again reminded how Shimmer Chinodya mines his experience for nuggets. Playing with his doppelganger, Godfrey, he looks back on life in Harare, and in Zimbabwe, over the last decade, exploring it from a familial perspective. How does a father cope with a rebellious daughter or a wife he perceives as wayward? How does one mediate traditional gender roles? What to do when status in the form of a car undermines the stability of a marriage? How does one manage a friendship with a new farmer? What moral compromises are demanded by new wealth and political cronyism? And what is the effect of religion on our lives? Have we become more caring and compassionate, or does piety provide a mask, to disguise greed and ambition, and justify a contempt for the poor? This collection of stories will make you laugh, but it will also challenge you to reconsider what it means to be Zimbabwean in the 21st century.

Night Dancer
Chika Unigwe
Jonathan Cape (7 Jun 2012)

Mma has just buried her mother, and now she is alone. She has been left everything.But she’s also inherited her mother’s bad name.
A bold, brash woman, the only thing her mother refused to discuss was her past. Why did she flee her family and bring her daughter to a new town when she was a baby? What was she escaping from?
Abandoned now, Mma has no knowledge of her father or her family – but she is desperate to find out.
Night Dancer is a powerful and moving novel about the relationship between mothers and daughters, about the bonds of family, about knowing when to fulfil your duty, and when you must be brave enough not to. Presenting a vista of Nigeria over the past half-century, it is a vibrant and heartfelt exploration of one woman’s search for belonging.

Fine Boys
Eghosa Imasuen
Farafina-Kachifo
May 30, 2012
“With Fine Boys, Eghosa Imasuen proves himself to be a keen observer of Nigerian urban life. He has written an unflinching and witty book, difficult to resist, impossible to ignore. He imbues his energetic prose and compelling characters with candour, grace, and pidgin inventiveness. A writer to watch.”
—A. Igoni Barrett, author of From Caves of Rotten Teeth
“Fine Boys is the first African novel I know that takes us deep into the world of the children of IMF: those post-Berlin wall Africans, like myself, who came of age in the days of The Conditionalities, those imposed tools and policies that made our countries feral; the days that turned good people into beasts, the days that witnessed the great implosion and scattering of the middle classes of a whole continent. Fine Boys takes us deep into the lives of the notorious gangs that took over universities all over Nigeria in the 1990s and early this century. We saw our universities collapse, and we struggled to educate ourselves through very harsh times. It is a beautifully written novel, heartfelt, deeply knowledgeable, funny, a love story, a tragedy; an important book, a book of our times; a book for all Africans everywhere.”–Binyavanga Wainaina, author of One Day I Will Write about This Place

The Tuner of Silences
Mia Couto

Biblioasis, 11 Sep 2012 – 224 pages
“Quite unlike anything else I have read from Africa.”—Doris Lessing
“By meshing the richness of African beliefs . . . into the Western framework of the novel, he creates a mysterious and surreal epic.”—Henning Mankell
The eighth novel by The New York Times-acclaimed 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 was heralded as one of the most important books to be published in France in 2011 and remains a shocking portrait of the intergenerational legacies of war. Now available for the first time in English.
Mia Couto is the author of twenty-five books. Translated into twenty languages, his novels have been bestsellers in Africa, Europe, and Latin America.

The No Variations Journal of an Unfinished Novel
Luis Chitarroni

Translated by Rhett McNeil
Dalkey Archive Press
A cryptic, self-negating series of notes for an unfinished work of fiction, this astonishing book is made up of ideas for characters and plot points, anecdotes and tales, literary references both real and invented, and populated by an array of fictional authors and their respective literary cliques, all of whom sport multiple pseudonyms, publish their own literary journals, and produce their own ideas for books, characters, poems . . . A dizzying look at the ugly backrooms of literature, where aesthetic ambitions are forever under siege by petty squabbles, long-nurtured grudges, envied or undeserved prizes, bankrupt publishers, and self-important critics, The No Variations is a serious game, or perhaps a frivolous tragedy, with the author and his menagerie of invented peers fighting to keep their feelings of futility at bay. A literary cousin to David Markson and César Aira, The No Variations is one of the great “novels” of contemporary Latin American literature.

Faction
Juan Filloy

Translated by Rhett McNeil
Dalkey Archive Press
The second of Argentinean eccentric Juan Filloy’s novels to be translated into English—after Op Oloop—Faction tells the story of seven erudite, homeless, and semi-incompetent radicals traveling from city to city in an attempt to foment a revolution: conspiring with striking workers, setting off bombs, and evading the local authorities. But this is no political thriller. Like his literary “descendant”
Julio Cortázar—who mentions this book in Hopscotch—Filloy is far more concerned with his characters’ occasionally farcical inner lives than with their machinations. While the action might seem to have a fairly straightforward trajectory, the story meanders wherever it pleases, from the increasingly paranoid theories of its seven protagonists to the peculiar countermeasures taken by the regime they are trying to topple. With its almost encyclopedic feel, and its satirical look at both solidarity and nonconformity, Faction is considered to be among Filloy’s greatest achievements.

Vlad
Carlos Fuentes

Translated by Ethan Shaskan Bumas, Alejandro Branger
Dalkey Archive Press
Where, Carlos Fuentes asks, is a modern-day vampire to roost? Why not Mexico City, populated by ten million blood sausages (that is, people), and a police force who won’t mind a few disappearances? “Vlad” is Vlad the Impaler, of course, whose mythic cruelty was an inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In this sly sequel, Vlad really is undead: dispossessed after centuries of mayhem by Eastern European wars and rampant blood shortages. More than a postmodern riff on “the vampire craze,” Vlad is also an anatomy of the Mexican bourgeoisie, as well as our culture’s ways of dealing with death. For—as in Dracula—Vlad has need of both a lawyer and a real-estate agent in order to establish his new kingdom, and Yves Navarro and his wife Asunción fit the bill nicely. Having recently lost a son, might they not welcome the chance to see their remaining child live forever? More importantly, are the pleasures of middle-class life enough to keep one from joining the legions of the damned?

Almost Never
By Daniel Sada

Graywolf Press; Original edition (April 10, 2012)
“Of my generation I most admire Daniel Sada, who writing project seems to me the most daring.”—Roberto Bolanõ
This Rabelaisian tale of lust and longing in the drier precincts of postwar Mexico introduces one of Latin America’s most admired writers to the English-speaking world.
Demetrio Sordo is an agronomist who passes his days in a dull but remunerative job at a ranch near Oaxaca. It is 1945, World War II has just ended, but those bloody events have had no impact on a country that is only on the cusp of industrializing. One day, more bored than usual, Demetrio visits a bordello in search of a libidinous solution to his malaise. There he begins an all-consuming and, all things considered, perfectly satisfying relationship with a prostitute named Mireya.

Água Viva
Clarice Lispector

translated by Stefan Tobler
Edited by Benjamin Moser
New Directions
Lispector at her most philosophically radical.
A meditation on the nature of life and time, Água Viva (1973) shows Lispector discovering a new means of writing about herself, more deeply transforming her individual experience into a universal poetry. In a body of work as emotionally powerful, formally innovative, and philosophically profound as Clarice Lispector’s, Água Viva stands out as a particular triumph.

The Miracle Cures Of Dr. Aira
By César Aira

(New Directions, October 2012)
A poor beleagured miracle worker, scorned by skeptics, bravely decides to use his supernatural powers
César Aira’s newest novel in English is not about a conventional doctor. Single, in his forties, and poor, Dr. Aira is a skeptic. He has a very special gift for miracles, but he no longer cares about them and has no faith in them. Perhaps he is even a little ashamed of his supernatural powers. On top of everything else, he must also confront his archenemy — the hospital chief — who is constantly trying to prove that Dr. Aira is a charlatan. Poor Dr. Aira is indeed a true miracle worker, but César Aira — the authoritative writer — sends the very human doctor stumbling toward the biggest trap of all in this magical book.

The Cardboard House
Martín Adán (Author), Katherine Silver

New Directions (September 25, 2012)
“Wonderfully youthful, poetically miraculous, The Cardboard House is the most representative — and the best — of the Latin American avant garde of the 1920s.” (César Aira )
“This book is profoundly realist, but it is not a reproduction of exterior reality;it is rather the poetic, sensorial, intuitive, non-rational testimony of this reality.” (Mario Vargas Llosa )
“I dreamt I was sixteen and Martín Adán was giving me piano lessons. The old man’s fingers, long as the Amazing Rubber Man’s, plunged through the floor and played a chain of underground volcanoes.” (Roberto Bolaño )
A sweeping, kaleidoscopic, and passionate novel that presents a stunning series of flashes — scenes, moods, dreams, and weather— as the narrator wanders through Lima.
Published in 1928 to great acclaim when its author was just twenty years old, The Cardboard House is sweeping, kaleidoscopic, and passionate. The novel presents a stunning series of flashes — scenes, moods, dreams, and weather— as the narrator wanders through Barranco (then an exclusive seaside resort outside Lima). In one beautiful, radical passage after another, he skips from reveries of first loves, South Pole explorations, and ocean tides, to precise and unashamed notations of class and of race: an Indian woman “with her hard,shiny, damp head of hair—a mud carving,” to a gringo gobbling “synthetic milk,canned meat, hard liquor.”

Is Just a Movie
By Earl Lovelace

April, 2012
Haymarket Books
“Maker, destroyer, recorder, revealer: that is Earl Lovelace and here he is at his soaring rhapsodic best. Starring two hapless almost-been’s in search of movie fame, Is Just A Movie takes us on wild loving absurdist journey to the heart of a contemporary Trinidad, a Trinidad so ravishingly alive that the Naipuls of the world could never have imagined it or possessed the soul to write about it.”
—Junot Díaz, author, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
“Is Just a Movie is not just a movie, it’s a poem, too.”
—Arundhati Roy, author, The God of Small Things
“Written in a vigorous, patois-inflected prose, Is Just a Movie celebrates the lives of characters caught up in the ferment of 1970. The narrative scissors backwards and forwards in time, yet it memorably documents a period of “dreams and vitality” in Trinidad’s history, when Black Power was briefly in the ascendancy and, in the space of just one year, the island went through an accelerated cycle of political temptation and folly. Is Just a Movie confirms Lovelace as a master storyteller of the West Indies.”
—Financial Times
“Lovelace has written an comic masterpiece. The dazzle of talent on display in this his latest novel is in its own way absurd. Yes, some writers do have it all.”
—Colin Channer, author, Waiting in Vain

The Weight of Temptation
The Femicide Machine – Sergio Gonzáles Rodríguez
05 April 2012 | Michael Schapira
“Sergio Gonzáles Rodríguez is known by many as a columnist for the Mexican journal Reforma and as the inspiration for the character Sergio Gonzales in Roberto Bolaño’s 2666. [However,] the ambitions of The Femicide Machine are much broader than mere reportage. The Femicide Machine attests to years of investigating the unsolved murders of hundreds of women in and around Ciudad Juárez, along with the institutionalized political, economic, and moral corruption that assures these crimes are committed with impunity.”
—Full Stop
“González Rodríguez tells us that the runaway violence [in Ciudad Juárez] isn’t necessarily new, or surprising. Ciudad Juárez is a city with a past: as an American “backyard,” a “dump-desert city,” a “metaphor for private territoriality and subsidiary domain.” This is the subject — how submission (to the U.S.) and danger (acutely in relation to the U.S.) — that he attempts to unpack. The book is a thin volume — more of an essay — and is a helpful guide, a CliffsNotes for the drug war.”
—Los Angeles Review of Books

The Neruda Case: A Novel
Roberto Ampuero
June 14, 2012
Riverhead
Published for the first time in English, an atmospheric, brilliant novel from an internationally bestselling literary luminary.
Roberto Ampuero’s novels starring the wonderfully roguish Cayetano Brulé are an international sensation. In The Neruda Case, readers are introduced to Cayetano as he takes on his first case as a private eye. Set against the fraught political world of pre-Pinochet Chile, Castro’s Cuba, and perilous behind-the-Wall East Berlin, this mystery spans countries, cultures, and political ideas, and features one of literature’s most beloved figures—Pablo Neruda.
Evocative, romantic, and full of intrigue, Ampuero’s novel is both a glimpse into the life of Pablo Neruda as death approaches and a political thriller that unfolds during the fiercely convulsive end of an era.

The Legend of Pradeep Mathew: A Novel
Shehan Karunatilaka
Graywolf, May 8, 2012
“A crazy ambidextrous delight. A drunk and totally unreliable narrator runs alongside the reader insisting him or her into the great fictional possibilities of cricket.”–Michael Ondaatje
Aging sportswriter W.G. Karunasena’s liver is shot. Years of drinking have seen to that. As his health fades, he embarks with his friend Ari on a madcap search for legendary cricket bowler Pradeep Mathew. En route they discover a mysterious six-fingered coach, a Tamil Tiger warlord, and startling truths about their beloved sport and country. A prizewinner in Sri Lanka, and a sensation in India and Britain, The Legend of Pradeep Mathew is a nimble and original debut that blends cricket and the history of modern Sri Lanka into a vivid and comedic swirl.

 

Absent Tongues
Kelwyn Sole

2012 | Modjaji Books, South Africa
Absent Tongues is Kelwyn Sole’s sixth collection of poetry; a collection that speaks of tenderness, anger, ambivalence and fear. This is territory Kelwyn has long made his own – hymnal vignettes that thread the landscape of South Africa with patterns of myth and people, with pasts, presents, and, at times, with futures. We come away from these poems with something akin to nostalgia, something like a yearning to belong in the most fundamental sense – to be water, air, bone, sky. Kelwyn Sole writes with grace, acuity and with thoughtful philosophical purpose, affirming his position in the forefront of contemporary South African poetry.

Two by Tanure Ojaide

Stars of the Long Night

Tanure Ojaide

2012 | Malthouse Press, Nigeria |
Set in the Niger Delta this novel tells the tale of a women’s struggle for equality in a traditional patriachal society. Against the backdrop of a once-in-a-generation festival at which the one chosen by the gods performs the dance of “the mother mask”, Ojaide weaves a tale of suspense while at the same time displaying the traditions and religious beliefs that define the area.

The Old Man in a State House and Other Stories
Tanure Ojaide

2012 | African Heritage Press, Nigeria
The Old Man in a State House and Other Stories is a literary canvas which captures the restless matrix that is today’s Africa: the corruptive influence of a corrosive oil economy, environmental degradation, wealth and hubris, love and more.
A renowned poet, Tanure Ojaide has won major national and international poetry awards, including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the Africa Region (1987), the BBC Arts and Africa Poetry Award (1988), twice the All-Africa Okigbo Prize for Poetry (1988 and 1997), and thrice the Association of Nigerian Authors’ Poetry Prize (1988, 1994 and 2004.
For Tanure Ojaide, “the creative writer is never an airplant, but someone who is grounded in some specific place. It is difficult to talk of many writers without their identification with place. Every writer’s roots are very important in understanding his or her work.” He has read from his poetry in different fora in Africa, Britain, Canada, Israel, Mexico, The Netherlands, and the United States. Some of his poems have been translated into Chinese, Dutch, Spanish and French. He is currently the Frank Porter Graham

The Shock of the Lenders and Other Poems/El shock de los Lender y otras poemas
Jorge Santiago Perednik

Publisher: Action Books
PubDate: 5/15/2012
Poetry. Latino/Latino Studies. Bilingual Edition. Translated from the Spanish by Molly Weigel. Is it “shocking” that Sergio and Pablo Shoklender, two teenage sons of privilege in 80s Argentina, should murder their parents, stuff them in a car trunk, and ride off in different directions on horseback? Or is it consistent with the violence with which capitalism and privilege direct and protect themselves, through oppression, theft and the dirtiest of wars? As the late Argentine poet Jorge Santiago Perednik has written, “Terror settles in people and affects them in unforeseen ways; in the case of Argentine poets, whatever they wrote about, even if they didn’t intend to, they wrote about terror.” His long poem, “The Shock of the Lenders,” is a tour de force in the truest sense of that term, going blow for blow, spectacle for spectacle with the implacable, immoral Power that maimed and split society during Argentina’s Dirty War and continues to make and split the world today. Perednik meets language at the end of its tether and makes it speak the unspeakable.

Octavio Paz
translated by Eliot Weinberger
Publication Date: October 23, 2012
New Directions
The definitive, life spanning, bilingual edition of the poems by the Nobel Prize-winner

At last here is the first retrospective collection of Paz’s poetry to span his entire writing career, from his first published poem at age seventeen to his magnificent last poem. The whole is assiduously edited and translated by Eliot Weinberger – who has been translating Paz for over forty years – with additional translations by several poet-luminaries. This edition includes many poems that have never before been translated into English, new translations based on Paz’s final revisions, as well as a brilliant capsule biography of Paz penned by Weinberger. Above all it demonstrates a life wholly devoted to poetry, a pursuit Paz deemed to be “the secret religion of the modern age.”

Burning City: Poems of Metropolitan Modernity
Jed Rasula and Tim Conley, Editors

Publisher: Action Books
PubDate: 1/17/2012
Poetry. BURNING CITY acts as a “multisensory Baedecker” to the many incarnations of international modernism from 1910-1939. Inspired by the abandoned plans of the early avant-garde poet Yvan Goll to write a history of modernity through the poetry of that era, scholars Jed Rasula and Tim Conley have carried out Goll’s project, scouring the small journals and magazines of the period for both lost and seminal texts. BURNING CITY is organized not just according to the cities which inspired the texts—Paris, Cracow, Buenos Aires, and so on—but according to such icons of the modern urban experience as “Cineland,” “Music Hall,” “Electric Man.” BURNING CITY makes a new contribution to anthologies of both poetry and modernism by its thematic focus on city life, by its inclusion of poets from languages and nationalities seldom represented in standard US surveys, and by its preservation of the typographic versatility of the this feverishly innovating period.

Negro League Baseball
Harmony Holiday

Publisher: Fence Books
PubDate: 6/1/2011
ISBN: 9781934200421
Poetry. African American Studies. Winner of the Motherwell Prize. “Negro League Baseball expends itself for us like notes in a trumpeter’s solo, is full of minor sevenths that resolve, knows that any song with lift acknowledges the gravity exerted by everything underneath it, and that its flight is itself a way to demonstrate love: ‘I am proud of the things I favor, so sore from them.’”

Poetry Bites Celebrating poetry from around the world
Wasafari, 2012

A limited edition anthology showcasing 60 poets from around the world who have been published by Wasafiri magazine since 1984. Featuring poets from Argentina, Australia, The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Botswana, Canada, The Cook Islands, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Fiji, France, The Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Grenada, Guyana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Russia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tonga, Trinidad, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, USA, Uruguay, Virgin Islands, Zambia and Zimbabwe!

Impressions of Africa
Raymond Roussel Translated by Mark Polizzotti

Jun 2011
Dalkey Archive
In a mythical African land, some shipwrecked and uniquely talented passengers stage a grand gala to entertain themselves and their captor, the great chieftain Talou. In performance after bizarre performance—starring, among others, a zither-playing worm, a marksman who can peel an egg at fifty yards, a railway car that rolls on calves’ lungs, and fabulous machines that paint, weave, and compose music—Raymond Roussel demonstrates why it is that André Breton termed him “the greatest mesmerizer of modern times.” But even more remarkable than the mind-bending events Roussel details—as well as their outlandish, touching, or tawdry backstories—is the principle behind the novel’s genesis, a complex system of puns and double-entendres that anticipated (and helped inspire) such movements as Surrealism and Oulipo. Newly translated and with an introduction by Mark Polizzotti, this edition of Impressions of Africa vividly restores the humor, linguistic legerdemain, and conceptual wonder of Raymond Roussel’s magnum opus.

Africa Speaks, America Answers
Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times
Robin D. G. Kelley

In Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, pianist Randy Weston and bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik celebrated with song the revolutions spreading across Africa. In Ghana and South Africa, drummer Guy Warren and vocalist Sathima Bea Benjamin fused local musical forms with the dizzying innovations of modern jazz. These four were among hundreds of musicians in the 1950s and ’60s who forged connections between jazz and Africa that definitively reshaped both their music and the world.
Each artist identified in particular ways with Africa’s struggle for liberation and made music dedicated to, or inspired by, demands for independence and self-determination. That music was the wild, boundary-breaking exultation of modern jazz. The result was an abundance of conversation, collaboration, and tension between African and African American musicians during the era of decolonization. This collective biography demonstrates how modern Africa reshaped jazz, how modern jazz helped form a new African identity, and how musical convergences and crossings altered politics and culture on both continents.
In a crucial moment when freedom electrified the African diaspora, these black artists sought one another out to create new modes of expression. Documenting individuals and places, from Lagos to Chicago, from New York to Cape Town, Robin Kelley gives us a meditation on modernity: we see innovation not as an imposition from the West but rather as indigenous, multilingual, and messy, the result of innumerable exchanges across a breadth of cultures.

S is for Samora: A Lexical Biography of Samora Machel and the Mozambican Dream
Sarah LeFanu

KZN University Press
November, 2012
I 1974, Samora Machel led FRELIMO, the Mozambican Liberation Front, to victory over the Portuguese colonial government. The following year, he became the first president of an independent Mozambique. Eleven years later, he was killed in a mysterious plane crash, and many have blamed his death on machinations by the South African government.
Drawing on stories, speeches, documents, and the memories of those who knew Machel well, this biography captures the many facets of a man Nelson Mandela has called “a true African revolutionary.” Machel was trained as a nurse, yet later became a consummate military strategist. He was a farmer’s son, yet possessed the diplomatic skills necessary to negotiate a relationship with China and the Soviet Union while winning over Western leaders like Margaret Thatcher. Machel was a man of the people who at the same time found himself utterly alone. A dedicated seeker of peace, he nevertheless never saw anything but war.
This volume takes stock of the discourse of equality, liberty, and comradeship that motivated the liberation struggles of Machel’s people and other southern African communities in the 1960s and 1970s, all in the face of a dominant Cold War rhetoric.

Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders

by:       Samuel R. Delany

date:     04.17.2012

Like his legendary Hogg, The Mad Man, and the million-seller Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany’s major new novel Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders—explicit, poetic, philosophical, and, yes, shocking—propels readers into a gay sexual culture unknown to most urban gay men and women, a network of rural gay relations—with the twist that this one is supported by the homophile Kyle Foundation, started in the early 1980s by a black multi-millionaire, Robert Kyle III, to improve the lives of black gay men.

In 2007, days before his seventeenth birthday, Eric Jeffers’ stepfather brings him to live with his mother, who works as a waitress in the foundering tourist town of Diamond Harbor on the Georgia coast. In the local truck stop restroom, on his first day, Eric meets nineteen-year-old Morgan Haskell, as well as half a dozen other gay men who live and work in the area. The boys become a couple, and for the next twenty years labor as garbage men along the coast, sharing their lives and their lovers, learning to negotiate a committed open relationship. For a decade they manage a rural movie theater that shows pornographic films and encourages gay activity among the audience. Finally, they become handymen for a burgeoning lesbian art colony on nearby Gillead Island, as America moves twenty years, forty years, sixty years into a future fascinating, glorious, and—sometimes—terrifying.

The Past Ahead Novel
Gilbert Gatore

Translated by Marjolijn de Jager
Indiana University Global African Voices
10/1/2012
The Past Ahead is the story of the destinies of two people after their experiences of the genocide in Rwanda. Isaro is orphaned, exiled, and now returned to her native country. Niko is a character in a novel that Isaro writes to help her understand her country’s recent horrific past. Isaro’s quest to recover the memory of the life she has lost is haunted by her nightmare imaginings, whose horror is given expression through Niko, a mute social outcast. When an army intent on massacre reaches his village, the once gentle young man is forced to become a killer. After the fighting ends, Niko retreats to a cave that he shares with a family of gorillas to try to escape the burden of his guilt. In his solitude, he is plagued with painful memories that will not leave him. As Isaro writes Niko’s story, she succumbs to the sadness of death, violence, and the dreadful reminders of her terrible past. Stunning and powerfully written, Gatore’s novel lays bare the unfathomable human cost of this international tragedy.

Orlando West, Soweto
An Illustrated History
Author(s): Noor Nieftagodien, Sally Gaule

WITS, 2012
Orlando West, Soweto illuminates the genesis of Orlando township and its well-known subsequent history, which is inextricably linked with the lives of prominent South Africans such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, amongst many others. A beautiful photographic essay complements the testimony from residents, who describe the way things were, and the way they are now, in the heart of Soweto, South Africa’s most iconic African township.
Noor Nieftagodien serves as the Deputy Chair of the History Workshop and is Senior Lecturer in the History Department at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. His most recent book is Alexandra: A History, co-authored with Phil Bonner. He serves on the board of the South African History Archives. His primary area of research is on liberation movements and local, urban history. He is currently writing the histories of Orlando West (Soweto), the Vaal Triangle and the Chemical, Electricity, Paper, Plastic and Allied Workers’ Union.
Sally Gaule is Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She teaches, researches and practices photography. The core of her research explores the overlaps between architecture, photography and urbanism. She has held photographic exhibitions on the built environment of Johannesburg and is currently working on an exhibition on the demise of Johannesburg’s Top Star Drive-In. She is a member of the photographic advisory board at Museum Africa.

There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra [Hardcover]
Chinua Achebe

Allen Lane (27 Sep 2012)
Chinua Achebe, the author of Things Fall Apart, is a writer whose moral courage and storytelling gifts have left an enduring stamp on world literature. There Was a Country is his long-awaited account of coming of age during the defining experience of his life: the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War of 1967-1970. It became infamous around the world for its impact on the Biafrans, who were starved to death by the Nigerian government in one of the twentieth century’s greatest humanitarian disasters.
Marrying history and memoir, with the author’s poetry woven throughout, There Was a Country is a distillation of vivid observation and considered research and reflection. It relates Nigeria’s birth pangs in the context of Achebe’s own development as a man and a writer, and examines the role of the artist in times of war.

Negro marfil / Ivory Black (Trenchart Recon Series)
Myriam Moscona (Author)

Les Figues Press (September 1, 2011)
oetry. Latino/Latina Studies. Bilingual Edition. Translated from the Spanish by Jen Hofer. NEGRO MARFIL / IVORY BLACK, Myriam Moscona’s first book translated into English, is a book-length experiment in inversions: at times the text can be read from left to right or vice versa, the poems reverberate from top to bottom or the other way around, at moments the book itself can be read backwards or forwards. The visual and the textual converse acrobatically. Binaries become multiples. As any painter knows, Ivory Black, also known as bone char, is the name of a color: to obtain ivory black bone is burned. Introduction by Francine Masiello and visual art by Renee Petropoulos.

Jubilation!: Poems Celebrating 50 Years of Jamaican Independence
Kwame Dawes
Peepal Tree Press, 01 Sep 2012 – 170 pages
In this compilation, more than 50 contemporary Jamaican poets reflect in outspoken, meditative, humorous, and outrageous ways upon the historical and existential moment of Jamaican independence. Ranging from the lyric and the pastoral to the declarative and the celebratory, these poems employ language registers across the full spectrum of Jamaican English and patois. Often surprising and sometimes alarming, this book affirms the contributors’ recognition of what it means to be Jamaican.

The Chameleon Couch: Poems
Yusef Komunyakaa

Farrar, Straus and Giroux;March 27, 2012
The latest collection from one of our preeminent poets, The Chameleon Couch is also one of Yusef Komunyakaa’s most personal to date. As in his breakthrough work, Copacetic, Komunyakaa writes again of music as muse—from a blues club in the East Village to the shakuhachi of Basho. Beginning with “Canticle,” this varied new collection often returns to the idea of poem as hymn, ethereal and haunting, as Komunyakaa reveals glimpses of memory, myth, and violence. With contemplations that spring up along walks or memories conjured by the rhythms of New York, Komunyakaa pays tribute more than ever before to those who came before him.
The book moves seamlessly across cultural and historical boundaries, evoking Komunyakaa’s capacity for cultural excavation, through artifact and place. The Chameleon Couch begins in and never fully leaves the present—an urban modernity framed, brilliantly, in pastoral-minded verse. The poems seek the cracks beneath the landscape, whether New York or Ghana or Poland, finding in each elements of wisdom or unexpected beauty. The collection is sensually, beautifully relaxed in rhetoric; in poems like “Cape Coast Castle,” Komunyakaa reminds us of his gift for combining the personal with the universal, one moment addressing a lover, the next moving the focus outward, until both poet and reader are implicated in the book’s startling world.

The Future is Not Ours nthology
Diego Trelles Paz
Open Letter Books

he Future Is Not Ours: New Latin American Fiction brings together twenty-three Latin American writers who were born between 1970 and 1980. The anthology offers an exciting overview of contemporary Spanish-language literature and introduces a generation of writers who came of age in the time of military dictatorships, witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, the birth of the Internet, the murders of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and the September 11th attacks in New York City.
The anthology features: Oliverio Coelho, Federico Falco, and Samanta Schweblin (Argentina); Giovanna Rivero (Bolivia); Santiago Nazarian (Brazil); Juan Gabriel Vásquez and Antonio Ungar (Colombia); Ena Lucía Portela (Cuba); Lina Meruane, Andrea Jeftanovic, and Alejandro Zambra (Chile); Ronald Flores (Guatemala); Tryno Maldonado and Antonio Ortuño (México); María del Carmen Pérez Cuadra (Nicaragua); Carlos Wynter Melo (Panama); Daniel Alarcón and Santiago Roncagliolo (Peru); Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro (Puerto Rico); Ariadna Vásquez (Dominican Republic); Ignacio Alcuri and Inés Bortagaray (Uruguay); and Slavko Zupcic (Venezuela).

The Planets
Sergio Chejfec

Open Letter books, June 12, 2012
When he reads about a mysterious explosion in the distant countryside, the narrator’s thoughts turn to his disappeared childhood friend, M, who was abducted from his home years ago, during a spasm of political violence in Buenos Aires in the early 1970s. He convinces himself that M must have died in this explosion, and he begins to tell the story of their friendship through a series interconnected vignettes, hoping in this way to reanimate his friend and relive the time they spent together wandering the streets of Buenos Aires.
Sergio Chejfec’s The Planets is an affecting and innovative exploration of mourning, remembrance, and friendship by one of Argentina’s modern masters.

We Have Crossed Many Rivers
New Poetry from Africa
Edited by Dike Okoro

2012 | Malthouse Press, Nigeria
We Have Crossed Many Rivers: New Poetry from Africa is a fascinating anthology of some of the finest contemporary poetic voices from twenty-nine African countries. Inspired by the examples of first generation African poets like Wole Soyinka, Christopher Okigbo, Dennis Brutus, and Mazisi Kunene, the poets in this anthology display rootedness in, and preoccupation with, the discourses of identity and political freedom. At the same time, they engage the more contemporary themes of human and economic rights, governance, the natural environment, love, family and generational relations representative of the African continent. Poems from Tanure Ojaide, Yewande Omotoso, Reesom Haile and Frank Chipasula are included and in all there are contributions from 68 poets.

Noo Saro-Wiwa
Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria

Soft Skull Press, 21 Aug 2012 – History – 272 pages
Noo Saro-Wiwa was brought up in England, but every summer she was dragged back to visit her father in Nigeria ? a country she viewed as an annoying parallel universe where she had to relinquish all her creature comforts and sense of individuality. After her father, activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was killed there, she didn’t return for several years. Recently, she decided to come to terms with the country her father given his life for.
Saro-Wiwa travels from the exuberant chaos of Lagos to the calm beauty of the eastern mountains; from the eccentricity of a Nigerian dog show to the decrepit kitsch of the Transwonderland Amusement Park. She explores Nigerian Christianity, delves into the country’s history of slavery, examines the corrupting effect of oil, and ponders the huge success of Nollywood.
She finds the country as exasperating as ever, and frequently despairs at the corruption and inefficiency she encounters. But she also discovers that it si far more beautiful and varied than she had ever imagined, with its captivating thick tropical rainforest and ancient palaces and monuments. Most engagingly of all, she introduces us to the many people she meets, and gives us hilarious insights into the African character, its passion, wit and ingenuity.

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