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One morning in Paris on the way to kindergarten, a little girl asks her father “Papa, why do you dance when you walk?” The question is innocent and serious. Why does her father limp, why can’t he ride a bicycle or a scooter? Her father feels compelled to answer, to bring back the memories of his childhood in Djibouti and tell her what happened to his leg. It was a place of sunlight and dust and sickness, a sickness that made him different, unique. They called him a skinflint and a runt, but he was the smartest kid in his school.
Waberi remembers the shifting desert of Djibouti, the Red Sea, the shanty roofs of the houses in his neighborhood, an immense loneliness and some unforgettable characters: Papa-la-Tige who sold baubles to tourists, his tough, silent mother Zahra who trembled, and his grandmother nicknamed Cochise. He tells of the moment when his life changed forever and the ensuing struggle that made him a man, a man who knows the value of poetry, silence and freedom, a man who is still dancing.
Includes the 2021 and 2022 shortlisted AKO Caine Prize stories as well as stories from the Caine Prize workshop
A woman who carries her fate and that of her community in her hair is beguiled by the deceptive designs of Europeans out to colonise her most prized possession. A man finds happiness in the reincarnation of a lost love. A young woman risks her life for freedom through the cultural practice of a human loan scheme.
Tales of sacrifice, love, freedom, self-discovery and loss fill the pages of this larger-than-life tapestry of stories from across Africa and its diaspora. Forged in a diversity of tempers and forms, these stories range from the epistolary to the experimental, from mysteries, noirs and political thrillers to speculative fiction and futurism, and much more. In prose that moves from visual and lyrical to gritty and visceral, these writers explore fate, memory, the fragility of love and the duplicitous nature of human interactions.
Àdùké lives with her grandparents in Ibadan and Grandma is her favourite person in the world. She loves when Grandma sings to her, and gives her treats from her stall. But one day, Àdùké comes home from school and can’t find Grandma anywhere! Àdùké doesn’t understand why Grandma can’t come back, but then her aunt Yímiká tells her a secret. Can she really see Grandma if she squints up at the moon?
Àdùkẹ́ ń gbé pẹ̀ lú àwọn òbí òbí rẹ̀ ní ìlú Ìbàdàn, Ìyá Àgbà ló sì fẹ́ràn jùlọ lágbàáyé.
Ó fẹ ́ràn kí Ìyá Àgbà máa kọrin fún àti bí wọ́n ṣe máa ń fun ní kókóró láti inú ìsọ̀ wọn.
Ní ọjọ́ kan, Àdùkẹ́ dé láti ilé-ìwé, ṣùgbọ́ n kò rí Ìyá Àgbà níbì kankan! Àdùkẹ́ ò mọ ìdí tí
Ìyá Àgbà ò le padà wá mọ́. Nígbà náà ni àntí Yímíká sọ àṣírí kan fún.
Ṣé lóòótọ́ ni ó lè rí Ìyá Àgbà nínú òṣùpá tí ó bá ṣe ojú rẹ̀ tínńtín?
“This multi-generational, cross-cultural anthology […] is infused with multiple perspectives, aesthetics, preoccupations and sensibilities. It offers up a broad sense of community between Black women writers who are consciously interrogating what it means to be human from our unique perspectives.” Bernadine Evaristo
Featuring the work of Black women poets from Botswana to Brazil, in this collection, we encounter ancestors who made love, just for the sake of love, and women who die with each orgasm while attempting to mark the extent of their own humanities.
This is for the nuns, the singers, the clowns, the diviners and the conjurers who reject the constant attempt to clean up history. The wildly imperfect women of slick braids, shiny skin and succulent lips, building new homes from clouds for future legions.
Here congregate the women, womxn and womyn who do not believe in tough love that disguises hurt just to prove a point. They dance with the dead with exquisite feet, cheekbones high, reflecting their mothers’ smiles.
Because no one claps for martyrs, these dirty/pretty women learn to walk cities like they own them, choosing the battles of their hearts.
If this collection teaches anything, it is that love is always messy, that our sacrament requires wet wipes and that we are just flesh and bone honing practice.
Contributors include iconic poets such as Nikki Giovanni, Diana Ferrus, Miriam Alves, Jackie Kay, NourbeSe Phillip, Cheryl Clarke, Lebogang Mashile, Staceyann Chin, Olumide Popoola, Makhosazana Xaba, Koleka Putuma, Safia Elhillo, Gabeba Baderoon, Warsan Shire, Ladan Osman, Anni Domingo, Elizandra Souza, and Jumoke Verissimo.
Men Don’t Cry invites us into the home of Mourad Chennoun in Nice, where his father spends his days fixing things in the backyard, his mother bemoans the loss of her natal village in Algeria, and the name Dounia is taboo.
When Mourad’s father has a stroke, he is forced to rise above his fear of becoming an overweight bachelor, tied down to home by his mother’s cooking, and take steps to bridge the gulf between his family and estranged sister.
This quest takes him to the Paris suburbs where he starts his teaching career, and falls into the world of undocumented Algerian toyboys and discovers that Douania has become a staunch feminist, aspiring politician and fierce assimilationist.
Can Mourad adapt to his new, fast-paced Parisian life and uphold his family’s values? A poignant coming-of-age story from the widely-acclaimed author of Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow.
Sex and friendship, ambition and political intrigue, secrets and betrayal will set the fate of two slaves— Jamīla and Abimelech—in this ground-breaking debut novel.
Inspired by the only existing first-person narrative of an Abyssinian slave in Iran, Jamīla Habashī, In the Palace of Flowers recreates the opulent Persian royal court of the Qajars at the end of the nineteenth century. This is a precarious time of growing public dissent, foreign interference from the Russians and British, and the problem of an aging ruler and his unsuitable heir.
Torn away from their families, Jamila, a concubine, and Abimelech, a eunuch, now serve at the whims of the royal family, only too aware of their own insignificance in the eyes of their masters. Abimelech and Jamila’s quest to take control over their lives and find meaning leads to them navigating the dangerous politics of the royal court, and to the radicals that lie beyond its walls.
Richly textured and elegantly written, at its heart In The Palace of Flowers is a novel about the fear of being forgotten.
A Man Who Is Not A Man recounts the personal trauma of a young Xhosa initiate after a rite-of-passage circumcision goes wrong. With frankness and courage, this powerful novel details the pain and lifelong shame this protagonist experiences as a result not only of the physical trauma, but the social ostracism from being labeled ‘a failed man.’ He decodes the mysteries of this long-standing cultural tradition and calls to account the elders for the disintegrating support systems that allow such tragic outcomes. But it is also through this life-changing experience that the protagonist is forced to find his strength and humanity and reassess what it really means to be a man.
Unbury our Dead With Song is a novel about four talented Ethiopian musicians – The Diva, The Corporal, the Taliban Man and Miriam, who are competing to see who can sing the best Tizita (popularly referred to as Ethiopian blues). Taking place in an illegal boxing hall in Nairobi, Kenya, the competition is covered by a US educated Kenyan journalist, John Thandi Manfredi, who writes for a popular tabloid, The National Inquisitor. He follows the musicians back to Ethiopia in order to learn more about the Tizita and their lives. As he learns more about the Tizita and the multiple meanings of beauty, he uncovers that behind each of the musicians, there are layered lives and secrets. Ultimately, the novel is a love letter to African music, beauty and imagination.
On the noisy Ajayi Crowther Street in Lagos, neighbours gather to gossip, discuss noise complaints, and faithfully head to church each Sunday. But beneath the surface lies a hidden world of clandestine love affairs, hidden pregnancy, spiritual quackery and hypocrisy, that threatens to destroy the community from within.
On Ajayi Crowther Street peels back the curtains on the lives of Reverend Akpoborie and his family, to reveal a tumultuous world full of secrets and lies. His only son, Godstime, is struggling to hide his sexuality from his parents whilst his daughter Keturah must hide the truth of her pregnancy by her pastor boyfriend to preserve her and her family’s image. But it is the Reverend himself who hides the darkest secret of them all, as his wondering eye lands on Kyauta, their young live-in maid.
Imprisoned for ten years for his rage against society, activist and retired academic Prof resolves to live a life of darkness after his release from prison. He holes up in his apartment, pushing away friends and family, and embraces his status as an urban legend in the neighbourhood until a knock at the door shakes his new existence.
His new visitor is Desire, an orphan and final year student, who has grown up idolising Prof, following a fateful encounter in her hometown of Maroko as a child. Tentatively, the two begin to form a bond, as she returns every night at 9pm to see him. However, the darkness of the room becomes a steady torment, that threatens to drive Desire away for good.
A Small Silence is an intimate and evocative debut charges us to look again at the alienating effects of trauma and the power of solitude and darkness to ignite the imagination.
In the early sixties, Tayo Ajayi sails to England from Nigeria to take up a scholarship at Oxford University. There he discovers a whole generation high on visions of a new and better world. He meets Vanessa Richardson, the beautiful daughter of a former colonial officer. Their story, which spans four decades, is a bittersweet tale of a brave but doomed affair and the universal desire to fall truly, madly and deeply in love.
A lyrical and moving story of unfulfilled love fraught with the weight of history, race and geography and intertwined with questions of belonging, aging, faith and family secrets. In Dependence explores the complexities of contemporary Africa, its Diaspora and its interdependence with the rest of the world.
Olivia Evezi’s childhood is a happy one; her days are spent listening to highlife records and poring over colourful postcards from Germany. When she leaves her hometown of Warri behind to live out her Enid Blyton fantasies in a boarding school in Lagos, instead of adventure and lacrosse, she is met with punishments, endless chores and hazing rituals.
Olivia’s restlessness takes her to Germany, her mother’s homeland, where she is thrown into a hidden world of workers and migrants; a world of constant vigilance, where a piece of paper can hold the key to survival. Olivia finds that she is destined to always be an outsider – too white for Nigeria and too black for Germany – and so must learn to define herself and her place in the world beyond the labels that have been given to her: exotic, foreign, oyinbo.
German Calendar, No December is a candid and reflective coming of age tale about learning to navigate the world, with the help of good music, good books, good friends, and a touch of courage.
Best mates Karl and Abu are both 17 and live near Kings Cross. It’s 2011 and racial tensions are set to explode across London. Abu is infatuated with gorgeous classmate Nalini but dares not speak to her. Meanwhile, Karl is the target of the local ‘wannabe’ thugs just for being different.
When Karl finds out his father lives in Nigeria, he decides that Port Harcourt is the best place to escape the sound and fury of London, and connect with a Dad he’s never known.
Rejected on arrival, Karl befriends Nakale, an activist who wants to expose the ecocide in the Niger Delta to the world. Increasingly distant from happenings in London, Karl falls headlong for Nakale’s feisty cousin, Janoma.
Meanwhile, the murder of Mark Duggan triggers a full-scale riot in London. Abu finds himself caught up in its midst, leading to a tragedy that forces Karl to race back home.
When We Speak of Nothing launches a powerful new talent. The stream of consciousness prose, peppered with contemporary slang, captures what it means to be young, black and queer in London. If grime music were a novel, it would be this.
Author: Olumide Popoola | Print ISBN: 978-1911115458 (UK) | Print ISBN: 978-9785517712 (Nigeria) | E-Book ISBN: 978-1911115465 | Format: Flapped paperback | No. of Pages: 256 | Pub. Date: UK: 3rd July 2017 | Pub. Date: Nigeria: 3rd August 2017
WINNER OF THE NLNG NIGERIA PRIZE FOR LITERATURE
An affair between 55-year-old widow Binta Zubairu and 25-year-old weed dealer Reza was bound to provoke condemnation in conservative Northern Nigeria. Brought together in unusual circumstances, Binta and Reza faced a need they could only satisfy in each other. Binta – previously reconciled with God – now yearns for intimacy after the sexual repression of her marriage, the pain of losing her first son and the privations of widowhood. Meanwhile, Reza’s heart lies empty and waiting to be filled due to the absence of a mother. The situation comes to a head when Binta’s wealthy son confronts Reza, with disastrous consequences. This story of love and longing – set against undercurrents of political violence – unfurls gently, revealing layers of emotion that defy age, class and religion.
Author: Abubakar Adam Ibrahim | Print ISBN: 978-1911115007 | E-Book ISBN: 978-1911115014 | Format: Flapped paperback | No. of Pages: 320| Pub. Date: May 2016
SHORTLISTED FOR THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARDS 2017
SHORTLISTED FOR THE GOLDSMITHS PRIZE 2016
Dr. Morayo Da Silva, a cosmopolitan Nigerian woman, lives in San Francisco. On the cusp of seventy-five, she has a zest for life and makes the most of it through road trips in her vintage Porsche, chatting to strangers, and reminiscing about characters from her favourite novels. Then she has a fall and her independence crumbles. Without the support of family, she relies on friends and chance encounters to help keep her sanity. As Morayo recounts her story, moving seamlessly between past and present, we meet Dawud, a charming Palestinian shopkeeper, Sage, a feisty, homeless Grateful Dead devotee, and Antonio, the poet whom Morayo desired more than her ambassador husband.
A subtle story about ageing, friendship and loss, this is also a nuanced study of the erotic yearnings of an older woman.
Author: Sarah Ladipo Manyika | Print ISBN: 978-1911115045 | E-Book ISBN: 978-1911115052 | Format: Flapped paperback | No. of Pages: 126 | Pub. Date: April 2016