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Showing posts from April, 2011

Capturing The Memory of Love: Praise for Sierra Leone

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Happy Birthday, Sierra Leone! We're 50 today. As I write, I sip a chilled glass of homemade palm wine (really coconut water with ginger beer). In the background, sweet, soft n' low is George Lewis' Burgundy Street Blues. His clarinet fills my senses and I take fictional flights of fancy out of the world Aminatta Forna based on Sierra Leone.

To borrow Lynda R. Young's words: In The Memory of Love, Aminatta tweaked a lot and a little. She offered enough familiar elements so the readers can imagine the worlds for themselves...offered enough detail to make the world believable, intriguing, inviting, scary, and beautiful.

My first fantasy into The Memory of Love, is Mamakay playing in the Ruby Rooms with her quartet; then convalescing in bed. Like George Lewis, once upon a time, Mamakay's friends have brought their instruments-- drums, guitar-- to her bedside and they record their signature piece. Something I imagine is a cross between Afro National, Supa Combo, Eben…

Vitabubooks Interview | Rosemary Ekosso

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Rosemary Ekosso was born and grew up in Buea, Cameroon. She trained as a translator and interpreter. After working for Cameroon government bodies from 1996 until 2003, she joined the international civil service. The House of Falling Women is her first novel.

Vitabu Books: What are you working on now?
Rosemary Ekosso: I am working on my second novel which is about a woman who drifts into a Pentecostal church and then changes it in ways that neither she nor anyone else could have imagined. I enjoy thinking about the book and its plot and characters much more than I enjoy writing it! I am particularly interested in exploring how well the main character knows herself. I also want to depict a neighborhood in my hometown where we lived for a while and where I was very happy, so that’s largely where the novel is set.

My first novel, House of Falling Women, was published in 2008 and talks about a woman who wants to do good but who keeps coming up against her own personal needs and the opposit…

Vitabubooks Interview | Precious Wiliiams

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Precious Williams is a journalist and author of the memoir Precious, A True Story, published by Bloomsbury in August 2010. A German translation of the book, titled Farbenblind, was published in October 2010 and a US edition, titled Color Blind, is published by Bloomsbury USA. Precious's first book is about growing up in trans-racial 'private foster care'. Vitabu Books presents a candid conversation with the author.

Vitabu Books: In your brilliant interview with Belinda Otas, you said it took you about a year to write Precious, but several more years to do all the research. Exactly how long was the process? Can you walk us through the time period? When did you start thinking you wanted to write a book about your experiences? What made you want to do it? You mention documents and data you collated with a lawyer and having family members read the manuscript and give feedback? What was that like? Did it make a difference? How?

Precious Williams: It took me about a year to wri…

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton on Queen Pokou

When Favorite Books Of 2010 asked NPR personalities to write about one book from the past year that they loved, Ofeibea Quist-Arcton , an NPR foreign correspondent who covers West Africa, chose Queen Pokou.

The reason she said was that Reine Pokou — translated in English as Queen Pokou: Concerto for a Sacrifice-- is an attractive, slim volume of poetic prose, with a colorful cover illustration by the author, about an African queen from a country that is back in the headlines — Ivory Coast.

Quist-Arcton also said another reason we should grab this book and read it was because Veronique Tadjo , who is Ivorian-French, was weaned on the legend of Queen Pokou.

She has presented us with evocative and captivating stories — ancient tales based on historical fact and fable — that reach right into the soul and pull at your heartstrings.

Quist-Arcton told Favorite Books she had picked up Reine Pokou (the 2009 English translation of a book I devoured when it was first published in French …

Vitabubooks Interview | Eustace Palmer, Novelist and Book Critic

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Sierra Leonean-born Eustace Palmer is English Professor and Africana Studies coordinator at Georgia College & State University. Palmer received a Master of Arts with honors in English Language and Literature and a Ph.D. in 18th Century English Literature from The University of Edinburgh. Returning to his native West Africa, he taught at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, rising through the ranks to become a full professor and chair of the English Department. While teaching at Fourah Bay, he became one of the pioneer critics of African literature and published four books on the subject: An Introduction to the African Novel; The Growth of the African Novel; Of War and Women, Oppression and Optimism: New Essays on the African Novel; and Knowledge Is More Than Mere Words: A Critical Introduction to Sierra Leonean Literature (jointly edited with Abioseh Michael Porter). He has also published over 60 articles on English and African literatures. He was an associate editor…

Vitabu Reads | The Last Harmattan of Alusine Dunbar

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I am currently reading Syl Cheyney-Coker's The Last Harmattan of Alusine Dunbar: A Novel of Magical Vision. The 398-pager was published October 1st, 1990 by Heinemann and won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book in Africa in 1991.  Here's what Black Biographies says about the book.

The story is a fictionalized history of a fictional Atlantic port city-state called Malagueta. Two hundred years of its traumas are chronicled, concluding with a coup. The "harmattan" of the title refers to a fierce, dust-carrying seasonal wind from the Sahara Desert that plagues this part of Africa. A prophet, Sulaiman the Nubian, appears and forecasts doom for Malagueta because of human folly, and he returns generations later as Alusine Dunbar. Cheney-Coker's literary style uses elements of the surreal, including distorted physical features and outlandishly outrĂ© events. Publishers Weekly reviewer Penny Kaganoff wrote that "in the tradition of magical realism, a …