Friday, August 5, 2011

The Sowetan covers Jozi Book Fair and the Launch of Where to Now?

Reading gets a boost


IT IS all systems go for the annual Jozi Book Fair with the organisers Khanya College having confirmed the exhibitors and the guest speakers.

The fair takes place from Saturday August 6 to Monday August 8.The book fair, which takes place every year at Museum Africa, Newtown in Johannesburg, seems to be growing bigger and better as more publishing companies and authors attend.

And to demonstrate how the fair is now assuming a serious life of its own, a number of pre-book fair events have been lined up, including a reception on Saturday at Movement House on Pritchard Street.

These will be attended by an assortment of authors and publishers. This year's special guest is Ellen Banda-Aaku, originally from Zambia but now lives in the UK with her two children.

Banda-Aaku was born in Woking, Surrey, in 1965. The middle child of three, she grew up in Zambia and has lived and worked in Zambia, Ghana, South Africa and the UK.

She has a BA in public administration from the University of Zambia, an MA in financial management with social policy from Middlesex University and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. She has tutored in literary studies and was a writing consultant at the University of Cape Town.

She has published three books for children and her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in Australia, South Africa, the UK and the US.

Her first book for children, Wandi's Little Voice, won the 2004 Macmillan's Writers Prize for Africa. In 2007, her short story, Sozi's Box, won the Commonwealth Short story competition.

This year she published her first novel, Patchwork, which she will chat about at the book fair. The book is set in Zambia at the end of the 1970s and is written from the vantage point of a child growing up in that country.

Patchwork is the 2011 winner of the Penguin Prize for African Writing in the fiction category.

Besides launching Patchwork, Banda-Aaku will also discussWomen and South African Publishing: between gloss and literature.

Banda-Aaku will host a workshop on writing skills for young girls.

She will also be involved in other events, including the children's programme, which runs for three days at the fair.

Another event associated with the book fair, which is bound to attract interest in both literary and political circles, is a book launch t by Zimbabwean publisher, amaBooks, tomorrow at the Jozi Book Fair.

They are one of the regulars at the annual event and will set the tone for the fair at the University of the Witwatersrand by launching Where to Now? Short Stories from Zimbabwe.

This launch is the first of its kind since the Jozi Book Fair was started three years ago and it will take place at the Writers Centre, Wartenweiler Library, East Campus, Wits University between 4pm and 6pm.

The writing in this collection, at times dark and at other times laced with comedy, is set against the backdrop of Zimbabwe's "lost decade" of rampant inflation, violence, economic collapse and the flight of many of its citizens. Its people are left to ponder - where to now?

All the voices are Zimbabwean. Even though some speak from the diaspora, their inspiration comes from their homeland and their stories are of Zimbabwe.

In these pages, you will meet the prostitute who gets the better of her brothers when they try to marry her off, the wife who is absolved from a charge of adultery, the hero who drowns in a bowser of cheap beer and the poetry slammer who does not get to perform his final poem. And many more.

Some of the writers in this collection include Raisedon Baya, NoViolet Bulawayo, Diana Charsley, Mapfumo Clement Chihota, Murenga Joseph Chikowero, John Eppel, Fungai Rufaro Machirori, Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende, Christopher Mlalazi, Mzana Mthimkhulu, Blessing Musariri, Nyevero Muza, Thabisani Ndlovu, Bryony Rheam, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, Sandisile Tshuma with readings by Thabisani Ndlovu, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma and Sandisile Tshuma.

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