Welcome back to part 2 of the series: GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books.
As a person of Ghanaian heritage, I enjoy discovering new Ghanaian writers and learning about our pioneer writers. Being a lover of African literature and literature of the diaspora, I find that Ghanaian authors and their work aren’t as popular as Kenyan, South African, Nigerian or Zimbabwean literature.
GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books is a series that highlights and celebrates various Ghanaian writers and their work. If we don’t celebrate our own, who will? I hope your TBR lists grow once you take the time to appreciate these writers and their work through the series. This is part 2 of a 3-part series and it’s NOT exhaustive by any means. The list is arranged in alphabetical order, of last names.
Kofi Akpabli is a journalist, writer and cultural activist. He is also a two-time winner of the CNN Multichoice African Journalist for Arts and Culture Awards. In partnership with Ghanaian writer – Nana A. Damoah (who was featured in part 1 of this series), they’ve been leading a campaign to promote reading for pleasure around the nation. I need to add their next event to my calendar!
Ayesha Harruna Attah
I’ve spoken a lot about Ayesha’s work and there are lots of photos from her readings on this platform. If you haven’t read Harmattan Rain (2008) or Saturday’s Shadows (2015) yet, please get on it!! I’m a huge fan of Ayesha’s work and I’m looking forward to her new novel – The Hundred Wells of Salaga to be published in 2018.
Yaba Badoe is a Ghanaian-British filmmaker and fiction writer (and actually the aunt of one of my besties, Ashorkor). In 2014, she launched a documentary film entitled: The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, in honor of Ama Ata Aidoo who is one of Ghana’s foremost woman writers. Yaba Badoe was a contributor to an anthology edited by Ama Ata Aidoo – African Love Stories and her story – ‘The Rival‘ was one of my favorites because it was totally absurd, but very entertaining! Her debut novel – True Murder was published back in 2009.
Dr. Yaba Blay is a Ghanaian-American professor, producer, writer and researcher. Her research is mostly centered on Black body politics with specific attention to skin color and hair. Her 2007 dissertation- Yellow Fever: Skin Bleaching and the Politics of Skin Color in Ghana, relies upon African-centered and African feminist methodologies to investigate the social practice of skin bleaching in Ghana. Her coffee table book – (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race (2013), explores the interconnected nuances of skin color politics, Black racial identity and challenges narrow perceptions of Blackness. Blay’s commentary has been featured on CNN, BET, MSNBC, NPR, O Magazine, Ebony Magazine, The Root, just to name a few!
Victoria Adukwei Bulley
Victoria is a British-born Ghanaian poet, writer and creative facilitator. Her work has been shortlisted for the Brunel University International African Poetry Prize, featured on BBC Radio 4, and has been commissioned by the Royal Academy of Arts. Her debut chapbook, Girl B is forthcoming as part of the 2017 New-Generation African Poets series, edited by Kwame Dawes. I’m always down to read a chapbook, especially those in the African Poetry Book Fund collection, so I’m super excited for Girl B to be released! The cover art for Girl B hasn’t been released yet, but a glimpse of her work from the chapbook was shared on Twitter last month.
Efemia is a writer of both Ghanaian and Zambian descent. Her first published story – ‘Chicken’ was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2014 and she’s contributed to a number of anthology collections. She’s currently a fellow of the inaugural Short Story Day Africa / Worldreader Editing Mentorship Programme and one of the editors of the anthology – Migrations: New Short Stories from Africa which will be out September of this year!
Lawrence Darmani is a novelist and publisher. I’m very familiar with his daily devotional articles in Our Daily Bread – a popular Christian devotional, available worldwide. Aside Darmani’s devotionals, he’s popularly known in primary & secondary schools in Ghana for his novel – Grief Child (1991), which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1992 as best first book from Africa. Darmani is the CEO of Step Publishers, which aims at publishing and distributing quality Christian literature.
Esi Edugyan was born and raised in Canada (Calgary, Alberta) to Ghanaian parents. She’s popularly known for her sophomore novel Half-Blood Blues (2011), which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and many other prestigious literary awards. Half-Blood Blues won the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize which was valued at $50,000. I hardly hear people talk about this book. I must get my hands on it!
Martin Egblewogbe is a poet, editor, short story writer and Physics lecturer. He’s popularly known as the co-founder of the amazing organization – Writers Project of Ghana that I’ve spoken about on several occasions on this platform. Martin self-published his debut collection of stories entitled Mr. Happy and the Hammer of God & Other Stories in 2008. Ayebia – a publishing house in the UK that specializes in publishing quality African and Caribbean writing, republished his collection in 2012. Egblewogbe has also edited various anthologies of poetry such as According to Sources (2015) and Look Where You Have Gone to Sit (2010).
Ruby Yayra Goka
Ruby Yayra Goka is a dentist by profession and a well-known Ghanaian YA (young adult) writer with a myriad of great books for children and young adults. Her debut – The Mystery of the Haunted House (2011) as well as 4 other works, The Perfectly Imperfect (first prize winner in 2013), Lost Royal Treasure, Plain Yellowing (second prize winner for 2014) and When the Shackles Fall won the Burt Award for African Literature. I’m really curious to know, who does the amazing illustrations for Goka’s books? Books by Ruby Yayra Goka are easily accessible to Ghanaians – I always spot her books in bookshops I frequent!
Malaka Grant is a Ghanaian-American author and co-founder of the highly acclaimed blog – Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women. Her debut novel – The Daughters of Swallows (2013) is actually an adaptation of the blog and is a fictional account that follows 3 women in contemporary Ghana who try to adapt to challenging situations in their lives. Grant also writes children’s books and has published – Sally and the Butterfly, as well as Yaa Traps Death in a Basket. Her latest work – Madness & Tea (I love the green hue of the book cover!) was published in 2015. She has a blog on motherhood, marriage and madness (and everything in between!) at Mind of Malaka.
Ben Hinson is a Ghanaian-Nigerian author currently based in New York. He’s popularly known for his super ambitious, action packed historical thriller based on mercenary activity during the Cold War era in the 1990s called – Eteka: Rise of the Imamba (2016). This historical thriller seamlessly fuses Asian, African, American and European cultures and history into an unforgettable reading experience. From an interview I read featuring Hinson, it took him about 6 years (including research) to write this epic novel. From reviews, Eteka: Rise of the Imamba is worth all of its 557 pages. Definitely check it out!
Dorothy Koomson is a British author and journalist of Ghanaian descent. Her books mainly focus on relationships and families. She wrote her first novel (There’s A Thin Line Between Love And Hate) at the age of 13, but her debut, The Cupid Effect was published back in 2003. From then, 9 more of her books have been published! Out of her catalogue of books, I’m a huge fan of her 6th novel, The Ice Cream Girls and actually saw a television adaptation of the novel.
Lesley Lokko is a Ghanaian-Scottish architect and novelist who lives simultaneously in Johannesburg, London, Accra and Edinburgh. She’s written about 8 books and I’ve been very eager to read Bitter Chocolate (2008) for a while now. Lokko has a pretty amazing book catalogue on her website. I definitely would like to read Bitter Chocolate and Sundowners soon!
Nana Malone is a Ghanaian-American writer who is actually a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She’s the author of 3 series: The Love Match Series – which feature contemporary romance stories; The In Stilettos Series – which feature sexy, fun multicultural romantic comedies and The Protectors series – which feature dark, superhero romance stories. I haven’t spotted any of her books here in Accra, but I’m sure they are available wherever books are sold online.
Marilyn Heward Mills
Marilyn Heward Mills is a writer of Ghanaian and Swiss descent. Her debut, The Cloth Girl (2006) is set in the Gold Coast at the end of British rule. It follows 14 year old Matilda – an uneducated, humble ‘cloth girl’ who’s childhood is ended by her marriage to Robert – a lawyer who already has a wife and children. Matilda meets the wife of another white man (a colonial administrator) and the two have tremendous impact on each other. Mills’s second novel, The Association of Foreign Spouses (2011) is set in Ghana in the turbulent 80’s.
Celestine Nudanu is a poet and passionate reader. Last year I attended the book launch of her debut poetry anthology entitled Haiku Rhapsodies – Verses from Ghana (2016) which features wonderful Afriku – haiku of African origin. Celestine is also the creator of the literary blog- Reading Pleasure, which is home to her Afriku as well as book reviews. Celestine was actually one of the first people to visit and offer encouraging comments on my book reviews here on African Book Addict!, so she holds a dear spot in my heart! Check out her poet profile, which was recently added to the prestigious Haiku Foundation registry.
Nii Ayikwei Parkes
Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a poet, essayist, novelist, editor and literary advocate who was born in the UK and raised in Ghana. He also writes under the pseudonym K.P. Kojo and has published a children’s book – The Parade: A Stampede of Stories About Ananse, the Trickster Spider under the pseudonym. I’m yet to indulge in Parkes’s poetry, but his novel- Tail of a Blue Bird (2009) is definitely a must read!
Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah
Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah is a Ghanaian feminist, writer, blogger and entrepreneur. She’s the curator of the highly acclaimed blog – Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women, which was created in 2009 as a space for African women to share experiences of sex and diverse sexualities. She has contributed to a number of anthologies like It Wasn’t Actually Love (2016) and The Pot & Other stories (2015).
Are you familiar with any of these Ghanaian authors? Have you read any of the books mentioned above?
The month of March has been dedicated to honoring Ghanaian authors as it is Ghana’s month of Independence. More writers will be highlighted! Stay tuned for Part 3 – the final installment of the series.
Note: Images were taken from Goodreads and the respective writers’ websites.