Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Round-Up 14

This is my final Round-Up of 2010, and I am very pleased to be able to start it with mention of Chinua Achebe, who you may recall was the very first author I wrote about in my first ever Round-Up at the start of this year.

Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe was interviewed on the BBC World Service's, arts programme, The Strand,  on the 28 December - listen to the programme here. You have a responsibility to make your story known, he says, I think that this is an inspiring mantra for 2011. There is an interesting discussion about Chinua's decision to write in English, which leads to the revelation that he is translating Things Fall Apart into his first language, Igbo. It is now 50 years since Things Fall Apart was originally published and it has never been out of print. I particularly love the bit at the end of the interview where Chinua says he loves giving interviews to people who say the right things! This is a kind and generous tribute to the interviewer Harriet Gilbert, who is indeed a wonderful interviewer, and who does ask the right questions. Chinua's book of essays, The Education of British-Protected Child, published to celebrate his 80th birthday, is now out in paperback. Details of the book from my first Round-Up 1 in January 2010.

Writing Competition

BBC World Service is running a competition for African performance drama stories, the deadline for entries is 15 January. All the winning entries will be aired during August 2011. More information  here: Writing Competition For a history of African drama on the BBC World Service - visit this link - African Drama

Leila Aboulela

Leila Aboulela's new book Lyrics Alley was published earlier this month. It is a family saga based on members of her own family in Sudan, in particular an uncle who was a famous poet. The story is about the cultural tensions between tradition and modernism - during the 1950s - as the Sudanese try to leave behind the colonialist yoke of the British and Egyptians. Listen to Leila discuss the book here - Lyrics Alley  Aminatta Forna reviewed it in the FT at the weekend - review of Lyrics Alley.

Andrea Levy

Andrea Levy will be talking about her prize winning book, Small Island on January 24 at Kings Place. This is a Guardian Book Club event and you can book a place here: Book a place.

Benjamin Zephaniah and Haroon Anwar

The BBC's Today radio programme has a series of guest editors this week; Tuesday's editor was the actor Colin Firth, who spent part of his childhood in Africa. Listen to the discussion with the chief executive of Oxfam about the effectiveness of  humanitarian aid focusing on Sierra Leone here. However the real reason for this mention is so that you can hear the two generations of poets that Colin included in his programme. First Benjamin Zephaniah reciting The British  and the teenage slampoet Haroon Anwar doing his poem Western Child.

Dambisa Moyo

Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo will be on the radio programme Start the Week on 10 January 2011: Information here. She will be discussing her new book How the West was Lost - here is a link to a video of her presenting her theories in relation to the US, I look forward to hearing what she has to say about the UK.

Kei Miller

Listen out also for the Jamaican poet and author, Kei Miller discussing the King James' Bible. It is part of a series of programmes that the BBC is doing to celebrate 400 years since the first publication of the world's number one bestseller of all time! Information here: 400 years of the Bible. I had the pleasure of hearing Kei talk about his work at a Black History Month event in October, even full of a horrid cold, he was a charming and erudite speaker - I wrote about his book back in August - read it here.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote a lovely piece about what she sees through her Lagos window in The Observer's Windows on the World feature at the weekend. Read it here: View from a Lagos window

Helen Oyeyemi and Aminatta Forna

Both Helen Oyeyemi (for My Daughter the Racist) and Aminatta Forna  (for Haywards Heath) were up for the BBC's (Radio 4) short story award, unfortunately neither won it. All entries for the prize have been included in a new book BBC Short Story Award 2010 - you can get a copy here: Book of BBC Short Story Award.

Bobby Smith

Bobby Smith, co-author of One Love Two Colours: The Unlikely Marriage of a Punk Rocker and his African Queen had a letter about multi-cultural Britain published in The Observer at the weekend. You can read it here: the letter.  It was in response to the Indian journalist Anushka Asthana's piece on her own experiences of growing up in the UK - AA's article.  I read Bobby and Margaret's book in 2009, it a warm-hearted and very open look at their lives - the similarities, differences, compromises; issues that are experienced in any partnership. Its uniqueness is around those issues that are specific to such relationships, such talking through how you are going to bring up children; dealing with disapproving friends; but it is told from the each person's perspective from within a loving relationship. I am in two-minds about self-publishing, but this book is such a rare inside view of a mixed-race marriage in Britain today, it is definitely worth a look.

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