I saw the British Museum exhibition Kingdom of Ife Sculptures from West Africa yesterday. We (Mr Muse and I) thought that it was tremendous. The selection is beautiful, wonderfully displayed and opens up lots of questions about what the sculptures were for and who they are, and what they might have been like when originally produced. I would say this is definitely the show to see this season – even with the strong contenders of the Chris Ofili retrospective at the Tate and 150 years of photography at the Whitechapel. A rich programme of events supports the Ife exhibition. The highlights for me are an ‘In conversation’ with author and Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Wole Soyinka on Friday 14 May and a film of the work of the French photographer Pierre Verger, (Friday 21 May) who did his most significant work of the Afro-Brazilian people in the north eastern region of Brazil. You can see the full list of British Museum events here – full list.
Helen Fraser, the former managing director at Penguin, has sent through a few words of encouragement for anyone considering applying for The Helen Fraser Fellowship, that I mentioned a few posts ago.
'Becoming a commissioning editor is one of the hardest things to do in publishing, and Penguin is hoping that through this fellowship it will be possible to make it easier for a greater number of diverse candidates to get a foot on the editorial ladder. Hamish Hamilton has a fantastically interesting list and is one of the leading literary imprints in London publishing, so anyone spending time there on the fellowship is more or less guaranteed a fascinating time and the opportunity to learn a great deal about literary commissioning and publishing'.
Jackie Kay and a number of her author colleagues from publishers Picador will be at the Foyles bookshop on Saturday 20 March: Foyles events Jackie will be taking part in two discussions one on Family and Self and the second on Poetry and Beyond. It looks like you have to book in for the whole day as it costs £18.
Crime writer Dreda Say Mitchell was the guest on Saturday Live yesterday morning. You can listen to the programme and click through to Dreda’s website from this link Saturday Live. She was a really insightful guest and gave a good sense of her passion for writing and how to inspire young people - particularly young boys into writing and reading too. The churlish listener who emailed in to complain about her accent and pronunciation did not in the least bit put her of. And she also received an offer of marriage!
This festival kicks off on Saturday March 20 in Oxford. Ben Okri delivers the English Speaking Union lecture on Thursday 25 March at 4pm and he will also be one of the authors taking part in the creative writing course that will run throughout the week of the festival. Malorie Blackman will take part in a children’ s session to discuss what fantasy tells us about reality – Saturday 20 March at 10am.
Fourth Estate has published a limited edition of Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s prize-winning novel, Half of a Yellow Sun to celebrate their 25th anniversary. There are only 2,000 copies and the cover folds out to become a special edition print by artist Hurvin Anderson. He is from Birmingham of Jamaican parents, unfortunately I could not find out anymore about the print that he has done for Half of a Yellow Sun – but I can tell you that it looks elegant. The publisher’s link above says that the book will be published on May 15, but I have seen a copy in Stanfords bookshop in Covent Garden and it is £30. It seems a lovely idea to link an author and artist in this way, though it would have been even better if the print had been signed by both of them. Here is a link from Ted.com of Chimamanda explaining why she writes.
I think that I am becoming obsessed with Dorothy Koomson. Her new book The Ice Cream Girl, has been out two weeks and it is already number four on the Sunday Times’ bestsellers list. Over 6,000 people have brought this Koomson book in the past two weeks! Who are these people? I read two last year, her first one The Cupid Effect and the one that came out last year, Goodnight Beautiful, they are involving romps of romance and they are well done, but they don’t do anything for me. At our book club discussion one of the members’ said that this is the kind of book that gives women a bad name. I would not be that harsh, but oh my word, she is filling a spot and so they fly off the shelf.