This serves to notify you that some people beyond my family members and friends believe that I may be all of the above. Yours Trully has been selected as one of the top 39 sub-Saharan African novelists under 40 writing in English, French, Portuguese or an African language. The announcement was made at the London Book Fair this morning. it would have been done at Lancaster House but they weren’t enough Britons on the judging panel :-).
Among the judges waa Elechi Amadi author of one of my all-time favourite books, The Concubine. I hold him in such high regard that as soon as I got the africa39 news my first reaction was, “Elechi Amadi likes my writing! I bet I was Top 1 on his list.” Paused. Said, “oh and the other judges possibly liked my writing too,” then went on excitedly to break a full Castle Lite bottle with my bare hands from sheer excitement. RIP Castle Lite (NB SABMiiller, please call me to chat about that brand ambassadorial role. A reading nation is a leading nation – ask Nigeria).There are 38 other writers on the list. Whilr I would like to congratulate my little sisters Chibundu Onuzo and Novuyo Rosa Tshuma; and my mates Hawa Golakai, Sifiso Mzobe, Ondjaki, Jackee Batanda, Chika Unigwe, Shafinaaz Hassim and Nthikeng Mohlele among others, I’m still convinced I was top of Elechi Amadi’s list.
A shout out should also go to my publishing house, the amazing Kwela for having five of their authors on this list. Given that this was open to writers under 40 of African origin from all over the world, it goes without saying that you’re one of the top publishing houses in the world. Well done Team Kwela – past and present.
Now back to NUMBER ONE.
If you’ve read me, you probably know why I’m one of Africa’s 39 (I reserve the right to brag for a month. This is a hell of a big honour folks). If at this juncture you haven’t, you probably feel like crap. You want to slash your wrists, drink poison, or start a fight with a 7 foot, 400 pound brawler in a bar near you so you can be beaten to a pulp and be in enough physical pain that you don’t feel the mental anguish of not having read me. Despair not. My books are at a good bookstore near you. If they aren’t, it’s not a good bookstore.
The titles are: The Madams (Oshun, 2006); Behind Every Successful Man (Kwela, 2008); Men of the South (Kwela, 2010); Maid in SA: 30 Ways to Leave Your Madam (Jacana, 2013) and London Cape Town Joburg (Kwela, 2014). One of the above was shortlisted for the South African Literary Award’s K.Sello Duiker Prize (The Madams); another was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Best Book Africa Region (Men of the South); while my latest is about to be shortlisted for the AU Best Book Award [just because you haven’t heard of this award it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. in my head]. If you’re an uncle, aunt, parent or grandparent, I’ve also written a children’s book, Refilwe (Jacana, 2014), a contemporary retelling of the classic fairytale Rapunzel. A major reason to buy it is that its endorsed for your nephews, nieces, children and or grandchildren by my very intelligent son and his almost-as intelligent classmates.
Be happy for me.