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Penguin Books Announces New African Writers Series with Chinua Achebe as Editorial Adviser

Chinua Achebe

Penguin logoPenguin Books (South Africa) announces with great pleasure that it is to launch the Penguin African Writers Series later this year – a list that will include, among others, some of the very best books from the iconic Heinemann African Writers Series, which was established in 1962, as well as new books from fresh African voices.

This is the second of two major announcements by Penguin this week, the first being the launch of the R100 000 Penguin Prize for African Writing.

Chinua Achebe, the prize-winning Nigerian writer and author of the classics Things Fall Apart and Anthills of the Savannah, was the original series editor of the Heinemann list, guiding and developing it for its first ten years.

Penguin is delighted, therefore, and deeply honoured to confirm that Achebe has agreed to take up the position of Editorial Adviser for the Penguin African Writers Series and his own collection Girls at War and Other Stories will be one of the six inaugural books to be published in August 2009.

Penguin South Africa’s CEO Alison Lowry commented, “We are excited by the potential of the Penguin African Writers Series. It is an integral part of our strategy to broaden the range of voices already on our list from across the African continent and make them accessible to all.”

Said Chinua Achebe, “Africa is a huge continent with a diversity of cultures and languages. Africa is not simple – often people want to simplify it, generalise it, stereotype its people, but Africa is very complex. The world is just starting to get to know Africa. The last five hundred years of European contact with Africa produced a body of literature that presented Africa in a very bad light and now the time has come for Africans to tell their own stories.

“The Penguin African Writers Series will bring a new energy to the publication of African literature. Penguin Books (South Africa) is committed to publishing both established and new voices from all over the African continent to ensure African stories reach a wider global audience.

“This is really what I personally want to see – writers from all over Africa contributing to a definition of themselves, writing ourselves and our stories into history. One of the greatest things literature does is allow us to imagine; to identify with situations and people who live in completely different circumstances, in countries all over the world. Through this series, the creative exploration of those issues and experiences that are unique to the African consciousness will be given a platform, not only throughout Africa, but also to the world beyond its shores.

“Storytelling is a creative component of human experience and in order to share our experiences with the world, we as Africans need to recognise the importance of our own stories. By starting the series on the solid foundations laid by the renowned Heinemann African Writers Series, I am honoured to join Penguin in inviting young and upcoming writers to accept the challenge passed down by celebrated African authors of earlier decades and to continue to explore, confront and question the realities of life in Africa through their work; challenging Africa’s people to lift her to her rightful place among the nations of the world.”

For more coverage on the announcement, see this article:

Achebe champions Penguin’s new African writing drive

The celebrated Nigerian author Chinua Achebe is to advise Penguin on a new series of books which aims to publish the very best in African writing.

Achebe’s own short story collection, Girls at War, will be one of six inaugural books in the Penguin African Writers series, which launches this August and will also include Ngugi wa Thiong’o's Weep Not, Child, about the effects of the Mau Mau war on the ordinary people of Kenya, and the second novel by Zimbabwean Dambudzo Marechera.

“The last 500 years of European contact with Africa produced a body of literature that presented Africa in a very bad light and now the time has come for Africans to tell their own stories,” said Achebe, author of the classics Things Fall Apart and Anthills of the Savannah. “Africa is not simple – often people want to simplify it, generalise it, stereotype its people, but Africa is very complex.”

The books scheduled to be published in August 09 are:

Girls at War and Other Stories – Chinua Achebe
Hangman’s Game – Karen King-Aribisala
Black Sunlight – Dambudzo Marechera
Neighbours – The Story of Murder – Lilia Momple
As the Crow Flies – Veronique Tadjo
Weep Not, Child – Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Photo courtesy PEN American Center

 

Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    April 23rd, 2009 @09:39 #
     
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    Good work, Penguin! This and the Prize look like some genuine investment in African writing from a major player... just what's needed.

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  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    April 23rd, 2009 @09:46 #
     
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    Seconded whole-heartedly!

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    April 23rd, 2009 @11:25 #
     
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    And thirded...this is excellent news. Particularly glad to see Marechera and Tadjo on this list.

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