Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012 Caine Prize anthology published in Zimbabwe

'amaBooks are delighted to have published African Violet, the 2012 Caine Prize anthology, joining other African publishers Cassava Republic in Nigeria, Jacana Media in South Africa, FEMRITE in Uganda, Sub-Saharan Publishers in Ghana, Bookworld Publishers in Zambia and Kwani? in Kenya in their commitment to making good stories from Africa available to be read across the African continent. The book is also published by New Internationalist in the United Kingdom.
       The Caine Prize for African Writing collection showcases short stories in English by writers from across the African continent. For the first time, the 2012 anthology is published in Zimbabwe.
Selected from 122 stories from 14 African countries, this anthology contains the stories from the 13th annual Caine Prize for African Writing shortlist, along with those from the 10th Caine Prize workshop for African writers, which was held in South Africa earlier in the year.
The Caine Prize is recognized as Africa’s leading literary competition, often referred to as ‘Africa’s Booker’. The book contains contributions from two Zimbabwean writers, Melissa Tandiwe Myambo, whose story La Salle de Départ was shortlisted for the 2012 prize, and Tendai Rinos Mwanakana.
The winner of the £10,000 Caine Prize for this year is Rotimi Babatunde for his short story entitled Bombay’s Republic, which deals with the story of a Nigerian soldier fighting in the Burma campaign of World War Two. The other authors shortlisted for the Caine Prize appearing in the publication are Billy Kahora (Kenya); Stanley Kenani (Malawi); and Constance Myburgh (South Africa).
The other stories in the collection are by Mehul Gohil (Kenya), Grace Khunou (South Africa), Lauri Kubuitsile (Botswana), BM Kunga (Kenya), Waigwa Ndiang’ui (Kenya), Yewande Omotoso (Nigeria / South Africa), Beatrice Lamwaka (Uganda), Rehana Rossouw (South Africa) and Rachel Zadok (South Africa).

‘Dazzling and splendidly diverse’ – The Times, London

‘A vital collection drawing on a rich treasury of material’ – The Guardian, London

‘Africa’s most important literary award’ – International Herald Tribune

'Over the past ten years, the Caine Prize has done a great deal to foster writing in Africa and bring exciting new African writers to the attention of wider audiences' - J. M. Coetzee

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

'amaBooks as e-books through the African Books Collective

The African Books Collective now sell 'amaBooks e-books on their website

Dancing with Life: Tales from the Township


Intwasa Poetry

Long Time Coming: Short Writings from Zimbabwe

Short Writings from Bulawayo

Short Writings from Bulawayo II

Short Writings from Bulawayo III

Silent Cry: Echoes of Young Zimbabwe Voices

White Man Crawling

Zimbabwe's Cultural Heritage

Intwasa shortlists 10 stories for the Yvonne Vera Award

10 short stories have been shortlisted for the Intwasa Short Story Competition (Yvonne Vera Award) with eight from Bulawayo and the remaining two from Harare. This year there were 81 short stories submitted for the competition, a 26 percent drop from last year’s number of 110. There were 60 males and 21 females who entered the competition.
The competition was inaugurated in the first year of the festival and is an annual literary event seeking to promote original creative writing talent in English.
In 2011 the award was named the Yvonne Vera Award and carries a $500 cash prize.
He said as organisers they were impressed by the quality of stories submitted.
“Forty-four per cent of the entries were from Bulawayo, seventeen per cent from Harare with the rest coming from across Zimbabwe, with one entry from South Africa and one from Algeria. Sixty submissions were from males and twenty-one from females,” said Baya.
He said there were a variety of short stories that were submitted, from love stories to stories about rural life.
It was encouraging to see a wide variety of subject areas in the stories, from teenage love stories to stories of traditional rural life. The judges were also pleased to see the use of humour, which enlivened many of the submissions, and, generally, the good command of language,” said Baya.
However, he said some plots were too complex and the characters were poorly developed.
“There was an overuse of descriptive passages at the expense of moving the story forward. In good fiction a writer will ‘show and not tell’. In several of the stories there were too long descriptions of the main character’s state of mind and emotions,” said Baya. “Several of the plots were overly complex and the characters poorly developed. The endings of many of the stories were unconvincing.”
“Writers do also need to check the spelling, punctuation and general grammar before submitting their work, whether to a competition or to a publisher,” said Baya.
The shortlist will be trimmed to five nominees on 7 September. Intwasa Arts Festival KoBulawayo will run from 18 to 22 September under the theme Bulawayo Blooming.

Below is the list of the 10 writers whose short stories have been shortlisted:

Blessing Hungwe    Coming Out
Violette Kee-Tui    Tattered Cloth   
Mandla Khumalo-    Fading Memories   
Sipho Mpofu    A Congenial Man   
Mahluli Ndlovu    It's Not a Man's World   
Nixon Nembaware    The Rain God of Nyatanga Hill   
Babusi Nyoni    Foolishness
Mgcini Nyoni    Crying Still       
Khotso Sibanda    Not Guilty as Charged   
Chaltone Tshabangu     Scheherazade of a Sort

Three of the shortlisted writers have been previously published by 'amaBooks: Babusi Nyoni in Silent Cry: Echoes of Young Zimbabwe Voices, Mgcini Nyoni in Intwasa Poetry and Chaltone Tshabangu in Long Time Coming: Short Writings from Zimbabwe.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Where to Now? review in The Zimbabwean

Where To Now?

Published by amaBooks
Genre - Fiction

Review by Jerá


Where To Now?Short Stories from Zimbabwe, published by ’amaBooks and edited by Jane Morris, is an anthology of 16 potent short stories by Zimbabwean writers. It is the 5th anthology in the short writings series that have been released by ’amaBooks and follows up from the acclaimed 4th collection – Long Time Coming: Short Writings from Zimbabwe.  This latest book is a co-publication with Parthian Books of the United Kingdom and – having been launched at the Jozi Book Fair and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo, as part of the Intwasa Arts Festival – will be launched in the United Kingdom later this year.

Blessing Musariri.
Blessing Musariri
By blending the works of new writers with more established authors, ’amaBooks seeks to promote previously unpublished writers.  Names that are immediately recognizable, among the array of writers, are award winning playwright, Raisedon Baya, award winning author, John Eppel and Oxfam Novib PEN Freedom of Expression award winner and NAMA award winner, Christopher Mlalazi.  Award winning author of children’s books, Blessing Musariri, winner of the Zimbabwe Book Publishers Association’s Best First Book Prize in 2010, Bryony Rheam and woman of the moment, 2011 Caine Prize winner, NoViolet Bulawayo, also grace this collection.

Most of the stories are set against the backdrop of the country’s decade of hyper inflation, economic demise and political strife but, as displayed in this book, Zimbabwean writers do manage to find humour.  It is not all comedy.  The stories in the anthology are divergent in theme – from comic, tragic, social commentary and allegorical.

Caught in a compromising position, a wife outsmarts her husband in Mapfumo Chihota’s comical tale of spousal infidelity - A Beast and A Jete.  Set in rural Zimbabwe, this story leaves a lasting impression for its humour and its clever plot.

Barbara Mhangami’s Christina the Colourful, also within a rural setting, continues the theme of womanly triumph.  However, it is something of a paradox, in that the author illustrates the oppression of women, yet the main character’s chosen profession – prostitution – it can be argued, is one that perpetuates the very same oppression, from which women seek to flee.  However, as a story, Christina the Colourful is well constructed and stands out as one of the best written pieces of the anthology.

The poignant and tragic tale of sexual abuse, Making a Woman, by Thabisani Ndlovu, illustrates the prejudices existing in society, against people with physical disabilities and the social pressure on women to marry and enter into motherhood.  While Mongi, the lead character, a deaf woman, claims a victory of sorts over the men who abuse her, she is left mentally and physically scarred from the ordeal.

Snapshots, set in inflation ravaged Zimbabwe, will draw smiles and chuckles from every reader, before turning into a tragic narrative, in NoViolet Bulawayo’s characteristic style.  The characters, for their names and their quirks, will remain in readers’ minds, long after the story ends.  It is typical NoViolet; uncomplicated yet intense.

Crossroads illustrates the trials and tribulations faced by the Zimbabwean immigrant – from visa application to arrival in Mzansi – in search of a better life.  Precocious talent, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, in this story – as with all her previous works – is a sculptor of words.  Novuyo, who, at only 21, won the 2009 Intwasa Short Story Competition, is a skillful writer who, by her work, promises to emulate past literary greats, such as Yvonne Vera.

Nyevero Muza’s The Poetry Slammer is an unforgettable piece, whose concept is unique, in that there is a character within a character and a story within a story – Nhamo, the lead character is a writer, who invents the story of a performance poet and it is the latter character who dominates this memorable tale.

In this era, where professional women are forced to choose between boardroom success and family, Alone, by Fungai Machirori, is a relevant piece, which is notable for its superb construction and humour.

In this reviewer’s opinion, Sudden Death, by Blessing Musariri is the most outstanding story.  Musariri’s use of language and her writing style, which appears so effortless, will endear her to most readers. Rosanna, known to her colleagues as Agnes, is a care worker, living in England.  Together with her husband, Simba, they labour tirelessly to save for their dream home, back in Zimbabwe.  An unexpected telephone call brings bad news.  The humour of this tale turns into heartache.  This funny and, in some instances, quirky story deserves special mention among a line-up of 16 beautifully composed, expertly edited, fiction stories.

Where To Now? is a recommended read and would be a worthy addition to the bookshelf of any fan of Zimbabwean literature. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bryony Rheam to talk about her writing in Bulawayo

On Thursday 16 August, at 5.15pm, Zimbabwe Academy of Music, Trade Fair Grounds, Bulawayo, Bryony Rheam will talk about her novel 'This September Sun'. The book, first published by 'amaBooks, is a set 'A' level text for ZIMSEC Literature in English until 2017 and  has recently been published by Parthian Books in the United Kingdom.

Bryony will also be available to sign books on Friday 17 August from 11.30 to 12.30pm at Tendele Crafts, River Estate, Cnr. 12th/Oak Ave, Suburbs.

All Welcome. Free admission.

Bryony is working as a teacher in Zambia, but has returned to her home town of Bulawayo for the school holidays.

It’s a long way from Zimbabwe to Swansea, but good stories travel well

It’s a long way from Zimbabwe to Swansea, but good stories travel well. Which is why Welsh publisher Parthian published the winner of the Zimbabwean Best First Book Award. Author, Bryony Rheam, basks in the background to This September Sun:

I’ve always believed I was born in the wrong age. I should have been born in the ’20s or ’30s and lived in a large house in the British countryside.
There would have been a cook, at least two maids, a gardener and perhaps even a nanny thrown in for good measure.
I’d go to boarding school and, in the holidays, I’d explore the nearby woods and find fairies and pixies and elves and we’d all have such splendid fun.
Considering the reading matter I was exposed to as a child, this idea of myself is not surprising.
Yes, Enid Blyton has a lot to answer for – and more so in the colonies where this idea of between-the-wars-Britain lived a far longer life than it did in Britain itself – but she wasn’t alone.
My maternal grandmother was a vociferous reader. She’d sit with a pile of books next to her and eat her way through them in a matter of days. She had a passion for crime novels and would send me off to the library every Friday afternoon to get in her week’s supply. Her choice of reading matter set a precedent that is hard to break and has sometimes been more of a curse than a blessing.
My gran loved Agatha Christie. I don’t know if she ever managed to read all of Christie’s novels, but some of them she read more than twice and would sit there saying, ‘Oh yes, I remember now, it’s the vicar who did it. He murdered his first wife and is being blackmailed by Miss Dimbleby who knew him many years before in Ceylon’.
I think, it was the feeling of something shared between my grandmother, my mother, my sister and myself.
Perhaps, if I got her the right books, I could make her happy, keep her talking and so forget the pain of her broken heart. She had lost her son when he was 21 and reading was one of her less harmful forms of escape.
I had never been to Britain, yet I loved everything I thought I knew about it: the tiny villages, cricket on the green, beautiful summer days, white Christmases, the trains that always ran on time.
It was a world that spun a magical web around me, that drew me in and which finally seemed more real than the world I really did live in.
Like Ellie in my novel, This September Sun, I never felt that I fitted into white Zimbabwean life. I despaired of the lack of culture and the small-mindedness; the propensity of the men to wear veldskoens and short shorts and for the women to grow hard and weather-beaten by the age of 30.
Those who did espouse any sort of knowledge of books and music were usually the elderly schoolteacher type who were stuck in their ways and ran the eisteddfodau and music festivals they organised with military precision, but no imagination.
Many people seem to think that This September Sun is a true story, which I suppose is a compliment.
There are reverberations of my grandmother and her love of Agatha Christie and the loss in her life in the character of Evelyn, the grandmother in the book, and of myself in the granddaughter, Ellie.
I do draw on personal experience, but I can honestly say that no event is absolutely true in the novel and no character is a true copy of someone I have met in real life.
White African writing often falls into the category of autobiography, written with the distance of time and place. With This September Sun, I wanted to write a mystery romance and deliberately shied away from making any political statement.
It chronicles the lives of two women of different generations and the challenges they face in their lives, beginning on the day Zimbabwe gets its independence from Britain, and it charts the changes, both good and bad in Zimbabwe over the next 25 or so years.
Set against this backdrop of political and social change, the book is testimony to the fact that, just as you cannot ignore the personal and familial circumstances that have created you, nor can you escape the impact your country’s history has on you.
This is something with which the main character, Ellie, struggles to come to terms.
Believing that her real roots are in the UK, she longs to leave small-town Bulawayo and a life of which she is almost scornful.
However, her expectations are never met and she finds life in England as empty and lonely.
Stories abound in Africa and they don’t all have to be about starvation, tyrannical leaders and disease.
Nor, for that matter, do they have to be of the swash-buckling Wilbur Smith type.
If my love of Agatha Christie taught me anything, it’s that everyone has a secret and everyone has a story, and often it’s the stories that people don’t mean to tell you that are the most interesting.
Countries change, wars end and dictators do eventually pass into insignificance.
A good story stays forever.
This September Sun is published in the UK by Parthian, £8.99

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Creative Writing Workshop for Mpilo Youth

A creative writing workshop was facilitated by  'amaBooks for young people registered at the resource centre at the Opportunistic Infections Unit at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo. The young people are to write short stories that will be published by 'amaBooks. The 'amaBooks project included workshops facilitated by Fungai Tichawangana and Rudo Nyangulu on social media and photography, and by Fungai Machirori on creating and writing blogs, as well as two by 'amaBooks on creative writing.