Monday, 15 December 2014

Ankara Press: A New Kind of Romance

The ladies of a new kind of romance
We chose the name Ankara, because, like the cloth, we believe it reflects Africa’s long conversation with the other continents in order to develop a new aesthetics of tradition. This has now become a feature of African cosmopolitan style and modernity. - See more at:
We chose the name Ankara, because, like the cloth, we believe it reflects Africa’s long conversation with the other continents in order to develop a new aesthetics of tradition. This has now become a feature of African cosmopolitan style and modernity. - See more at:
We chose the name Ankara, because, like the cloth, we believe it reflects Africa’s long conversation with the other continents in order to develop a new aesthetics of tradition. This has now become a feature of African cosmopolitan style and modernity. - See more at:
"We chose the name Ankara, because, like the cloth, we believe it reflects Africa's long conversation with the other continents in order to develop a new aesthetics of tradition. This has now become a feature of African cosmopolitan style and modernity." - Bibi Bakare-Yusuf
The wait is finally over for lovers of romance fiction (no pun intended). Today, Monday December 15th 2014, Nigerian publisher Cassava Republic launched their new romance imprint, Ankara Press with six new e-books.

I've been following the launch of this new imprint since July, when it was mentioned at a panel on genre fiction at AfricaWrites 2014. There, Bibi Bakare Yusuf, spoke about the creation of Ankara Press - a romance imprint with more of a mass appeal. Ankara Press, however, has been years in the making - with call for submissions back in 2011. Well, it seems like it was worth the wait with the 6 e-books being released today and all available to download now for NGN500 (less than £2).

Ankara Press' first six e-books
Ankara Press also joins a list of other imprints from publishers on the continent who focus on African romance fiction, such as Nollybooks and Sapphire Press in South Africa and Drumbeats in Kenya.  

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Even More Best Books of 2014 by African Writers

What a difference a week makes! Last week I compiled a list of the Best Books by African Writers in 2014 from the different lists out there, and since then there have been even more Best of Lists.  
It started with 13 .... 
Helen Oyeyemi and Dinaw Mengestu are in one of the lists, but the ones I've come across this week also have some really cool additions to the Best of Lists. 

Starting with The Root, they compiled a list of the 15 best works of fiction by Black authors in 2014, which included Dinaw Mengestu's All Our Names, Nuruddin Farah's Hiding in Plain Sight, Okey Ndibe's Foreign God's, Inc., Teju Cole's Every Day is for the Thief, Helen Oyeyemi's Boy, Snow, Bird, Chris Abani's The Secret History of Las Vegas, Ishamel Beah's Radiance of Tomorrow, Bridgett M. Davis' Into the Go-Slow (yes, I'm claiming that one) and Nadifa Mohamed's The Orchards of Lost Soul.

Over at, their Reviewers' Choice: Best Book of 2014 includes Deji Olukoton's Nigerians in Space, Lauren Beukes' Broken Monsters, Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon and Sarah Lotz's The Three. While at Kirkus, Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon also makes it onto the Top 10 Alien Books of 2014.  

In South Africa, BooksLive showcases the list of all lists - Sunday Times Book Reviewers 2014 books of the year. I counted about 20 (mostly South African) books in a list of about 46 books - pretty awesome right? I also only really focused on fiction (so definitely check out the full list), although there are a few non-fiction books here. This list is insane and has crime, thriller, speculative fiction, YA and more. 

On the list we have Fiona Leonard's The Chicken Thief, Sarah Lotz's The Three, Alex Smith's Devilskein & Dearlove, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor's Dust, Edyth Bulbring's The Mark, Thando Mgqolozana's Unimportance, Masande Ntshanga's The Reactive,  Vernon RL Head's The Search for the Rarest Bird in the World, Dominique Botha's False River, Nadia Davids' An Imperfect BlessingKarin Brynard's Weeping WatersLyndall Gordon's Divided LivesDamon Galgut’s Arctic SummerImraan Coovadia's Tales of the Metric System, Rosamund Haden's Love Tastes Like Strawberries, Joanne Macgregor's Dark WhispersKirsten Miller's Sister MoonMark Gevisser's Lost and Found in Johannesburg (UK title is Dispatcher: Lost and Found in Johannesburg)Jaco van Schalkwyk's The Alibi Club and Lauren Beukes’ Broken Monsters.

... and became 35 (at my last count).
With less than 3 weeks to go until the end of the year, I'm not sure what surprises will crop up in anymore Best of Lists, but let's wait and see. 

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Another New Release for 2014: Boualem Sansal's 'Harraga' (Translated by Frank Wynne)

UK Cover
Published in 2005 in French by Gallimard, Algerian author, Boualem Sansal's novel Harraga, was released last month in the UK. Translated into English by Frank Wynne, here's the synopsis courtesy of Bloomsbury:

In a crumbling colonial mansion besieged by slums in the old quarter of Algiers, Lamia lives a life of self-imposed isolation, communing only with her ghosts by day, working as a paediatrician by day. Her family are dead, but for her beloved brother Sofiane, who has become a harraga – one of those who risk their lives attempting to flee the country for a better life in Europe/elsewhere. 
US cover

Lamia's tranquil, ordered existence is turned upside-down when a sixteen-year-old stranger knocks on her door in the middle of the night. Only because she has been sent by Sofiane, Lamia takes the girl in. Pregnant, unmarried and dressed in garish finery like an X-Factor contestant, Chérifa is talkative, curiously innocent, and utterly unafraid. She enters the house like a whirlwind, and leaves a trail of destruction in her wake. Lamia must try to teach her, to protect her against a world where a woman who is not meek, subservient, married is an affront, where a girl who is pregnant can be killed to spare her family's honour.

By turns funny and lyrical, luminous and sardonic, Harraga, by the controversial author of An Unfinished Business, is the engaging and ultimately tragic story of two very different women who become friends and allies in a patriarchal world. Harraga will be published in the States January 2015.

Friday, 12 December 2014

bookshy is three today!!!!!

Today, my blog turns 3 and I'm really excited. When I wrote my first ever post New Beginnings on this day in 2011 in Lagos, I had no idea what an amazing journey I was heading on. It really has been a fantastic three years and I have loved every second of it.

I am going to keep it short and sweet this year and say thank you, thank you, thank you for all the love and support my blog gets. For everyone who reads the blog, follows it, likes the facebook page, follows me on Twitter and more.

I can't say enough how much I have truly enjoyed the last three years. So here's to the next year - to (hopefully) more reading, more learning, and more sharing of my love, passion and joy for the wonderful world of African literature.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

African Speculative Fiction

It's almost three years since I put together my first list on African Science Fiction, which included works from Lauren Beukes, J M Coetzee, Kojo Laing, Nnedi Okorafor and Abdourahman Waberi. I followed up that post last summer to reflect the exciting and fun times for African Science Fiction. Well, a lot has happened on the scene in the last few years, so I am adding to the first two lists to further reflect these changes. I'm also using the broader term - speculative fiction (broadly Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror), but if you're going to be specific there are sub-genres (I will not reveal the extent of my geekyness, but you can read more here :)). 

Paradoxa's 'African Sf: Introduction' provides a great overview of African sf and is like a go-to list for African sf. Going as far back as 1863 where the continent was more of just a 'feature [in] scientific expeditions' to works by 'indigenous Africans, either written in or translated into English' such as Mohammed Dib's Who Remembers the Sea (1962), as well as 'African sf texts in indigenous languages - such as UK-based Zimbabwean Masimba Musodza's MunaHacha Maive Nei? (2012)'

Here are some more speculative fiction novels that have been published in the last few years.

Fox & Raven (an SA Indie Publisher of Speculative Fiction) have published some really cool books I've been wanting to read. They'll also be publishing Cristy Zinn's first middle-grade/teen fantasy novel The Dreamer's Tears in March 2015. Really enjoyed her short story Five Sets of Hands in AfroSF so definitely looking forward to her debut novel. And

For more speculative fiction, especially from South Africa check out Dave-Brendon de Burgh's post on SA writers and publishers of speculative fiction. See also's Under the Radar: (Even More) South African Genre Fiction. And for more YA SF/Fantasy, check out Nick Wood's The Stone Chameleon, Edyth Bulbring's Cornelia Button and the Globe of Gamagion andThe Mark and S.A. Partridge's Sharp Edges and the Deadlands Trilogy by Lily Herne (the pseudonym of mother/daughter due Sarah and Savannah Lotz)



The excitement continues as last week a new speculative fiction e-magazine, Omenena arrived. Curated and edited by Mazi Nwonwu and Chinelo Onwualu, Omenana is a platform where speculative fiction from Nigeria can be achored. Additionally, Jalada's second anthology, Afrofuture(s), will be centred on Afrofuturism and AfroSF, while Short Story Day Africa will also be publishing a speculative fiction anthology, Terra Incognita, with the longlisted stories. Finally, Malawian author, Shadreck Chikoti, announced last month about a book being published in the near future with 'stories [that] will be set 500 years from now ... about Africa'.

And there's more. Next year (May 5, 2015 to be exact), Nnedi Okorafor The Book of Phoenix will be published by DAW Books. This is the prequel to her 2010 World Fantasy Award-winning novel Who Fears Death

North African Speculative Fiction should not be left out and I would like to do another post focusing on that, but Arab Literature (in English) has written a lot on Arab Sci-Fi and particularly on Arab SF in translation, if you're interested. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Another New Release for 2014: Nael Eltoukhy's 'Women of Karantina' (Translated by Robin Moger)

Another new release for 2014, this time from Egyptian writer and journalist Nael Eltoukhy. Born in Kuwait in 1978, and moving to Egypt as  a toddler in 1981, Nael Eltoukhy's latest, Women of Karantina, was originally published in Arabic in 2013 by Egyptian publisher Dar Merit. The English translation is by Robin Moger and the book sounds amazing. Here's an interview on Arabic Literature (in English) with Robin Moger and Nael Eltoukhy on Women of Karantina and the synopsis courtesy of AUC Press

A baroque novel of crime and excess in a future Alexandria, from a young Egyptian writer of promise.

Back in the dog days of the early twenty-first century a pair of lovebirds fleeing a murder charge in Cairo pull in to Alexandria's main train station. Fugitives, friendless, their young lives blighted at the root, Ali and Injy set about rebuilding, and from the coastal city's arid soil forge a legend, a kingdom of crime, a revolution: Karantina.

Through three generations of Grand Guignol insanity, Nael Eltoukhy's sly psychopomp of a narrator is our guide not only to the teeming cast of pimps, dealers, psychotics, and half-wits and the increasingly baroque chronicles of their exploits, but also to the moral of his tale. Defiant, revolutionary, and patriotic, are the rapists and thieves of Alexandria's crime families deluded maniacs or is their myth of Karantina - their Alexandria reimagined as the once and future capital - what they believe it to be: the revolutionary dream made brick and mortar, flesh bone?

Subversive and hilarious, deft and scalpel sharp, Eltoukhy's sprawling epic is a masterpiece of modern Egyptian literature. Mahfouz shaken by the tail, a lunatic dream, a future history that is the sanest thing yet written on Egypt's current woes. 

My Favourite African Book Covers of 2014

I'm back again, with my obsession for book covers. So much so that my 'Best of 2014' list is on my favourite African book covers of the year. Back in May, Africa is a Country wrote about The Dangers of a Single Book Cover, with African Literature often getting the Acacia tree treatment. As someone who judges books by their covers, I wanted to step away from the single acacia tree book cover and so showcased some of the book covers I've featured on my Tumblr (African Book Covers). So which covers did I love this year?

My favourite cover of the year is South African illustrator and designer Joey Hi-Fi's design for Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon. I first gushed about it back in 2013 - going on about how absolutely gorgeous it was with images of Lagos above and the sea life and activity below. I loved everything about it and the cover still speaks to me on so many levels - it gives me chills, but it also excites me.

Well, here are 21 more of my favourite African book covers of 2014 - and there is no Acacia tree in sight.

Reissue with special edition covers from Faber & Faber

French Translation cover of Who Fears Death designed by Joey Hi-Fi

This is the second edition cover reprinted by Kwela this year