The anthology, published by Bloomsbury, will be launched at Southbank Centre on Sunday the 12th October at 6pm. The Africa 39 writers Clifton Gachagua (Kenya), Nadifa Mohamed (Somalia) and Stanley Kenani (Malawi) will talk about their work with the Africa39 anthology editor Ellah Alfrey and discuss the creativity and amazing writing from their region.
Source: Press release (pdf).
even if there’s a conflict people are still trying to live as normal lives as they can…despite the suffering that hits when the war breaks out, they are still pretending as far as they can that their lives are going to be the same as they expected them to be… people are not overwhelmed by conflict. […]
[D]iscussing power and powerlessness in a place that is seemingly always in flux, like Somalia, this becomes much more apparent.
Clifton Gachagua was awarded the 2013 inaugural Sillerman Prize for African Poetry. His sublime debut poetry collection, “The Madman at Kilifi” was described by the esteemed poet Kwame Dawes as having:
[t]he urgency to capture the world before it disappears. And the urgency is further realized in the fact that in his effort to understand this world he is, in fact, trying to understand himself.
Gachagua’s poems are urgently present: they emerge out of sources like the radio, newspaper, television, as well as street stories and rumours. They seek to chart a changing society and while the effort is largely impossible to accomplish, the gesture is important. One of Gachagua’s whimsical speakers describes himself as a “cartographer of water,” and in this Gachagua seems to have found the fit metaphor for his art—quixotic, absurd, and yet necessary. To do this, Gachagua is unabashed about exploring death, sexual adventure, violence, betrayal, and those things that some might term as deviant in his poems. The result is a book that is arresting and full of surprises. Fortunately this material is being handled by a craftsman who has clearly given much of his apprenticeship to the study of both contemporary and past poets.
What is most appealing about Gachagua, however, is even though you can tell that he has read his fill of Shakespeare, Eliot, and Ginsberg, one has the sense that he is not shackled by them but is willing to bend them to his purposes.
(“The Cartographer of Water: A foreword by Kwame Dawes” in “Madman at Kilifi)
Gachagua’s forthcoming novel, “Zephyrion”, was shortlisted for the inaugural Kwani? Manuscript Project.
Stanley Onjezani Kenani was born in Malawi and currently lives in Switzerland. He has twice been shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing, in 2008 and 2012. He is the author of the story collection “For Honour and Other Stories” and is currently working on his first novel.
Kenani’s “Love on Trial” (pdf) was published in “The Caine Prize for African Writing 2012” anthology.