Book Chat | Tampered Press – A Ghanaian literary & Arts magazine

According to the dictionary, to tamper is to ‘interfere with (something) in order to cause damage or make unauthorized alterations,’ and that’s exactly what Tampered Press is here to do!

[image via Tampered Press]

Tampered Press is a new Ghanaian literary and arts magazine with the goal of publishing the work of emerging and practicing writers and visual artists – with a bias for Ghana, and Africa. The magazine launched during the summer – July 14th, with it’s first issue: The Future Present. I wasn’t able to attend the launch, but I did buy two copies of the first issue and fell in love with the overall stellar quality of the magazine.

What I enjoyed most about the first edition is how unapologetically Ghanaian it is: from the illustrations, to the poetry, short stories and the essays – it’s just really exciting to witness great work being produced by creatives in Accra.

I simply love the overt advocacy for the arts ingrained into every page of this magazine and had to catch up with the editor & creative director – Ama Asantewa Diaka, also known as ‘Poetra Asantewa.’ In this book chat, Poetra Asantewa gives the gist on Tampered Press’s conception, the magazine’s intended audience and more. Enjoy the mini conversation I had with her below!

(note – ‘PA’ represents Poetra Asantewa’s responses)

 

•••

  • Before we get into talking about Tampered Press – Poetra Asantewa, what are you known for? What is your passion?

PA: I am known widely for poetry. But I am passionate about writing – which takes the form of poetry, fiction or non-fiction.

 


  • How did the idea to create this Ghanaian literary & arts magazine come about? Who was involved in the process? Why the name – Tampered Press?

PA: I think books (writing) are a necessity in every community. But the process of getting published in the Ghanaian community, to the best of my knowledge, is so few and far in between that Ghanaian authored books are either largely independent (and thus limited reach), or so rare when it is traditionally published. The publishing industry is a deep dark hole that deserves a ranting of its own, but I strongly believe that the best way to attempt to dismantle the vastness of it, is to create our own platforms – no matter how small and in which ever form. That is what birthed the idea for Tampered – the name was decided on because in as much as it is small – its aim is to stir the norm, – to disturb. Tampered was a very collaborative process. I may have spearheaded it but a community of writers, poets, designers, and editors brought it altogether.

 


  • From the About section of the magazine’s website – The goal is to publish the work of emerging and practicing writers and visual artists, with a bias for Ghana, and Africa.’ So is it safe to assume that the magazine’s intended audiences are Ghanaians and other Africans?

PA: YES. The magazine’s intended audiences are Ghanaians and other Africans.

 


  • Sounds good to me! The quality of the first issue – The Future Present, is very impressive. What do you look out for in the visual arts, short stories, fiction/ non-fiction pieces and poems you accept for publication? What would you like to see more/less of in the submissions?

PA: In the spirit of collaboration – I think marrying the arts together increases its individual reach, and especially for a country that is not privileged to have an industry for each of the arts, it makes more sense to pair up visual artists with writers, or essayists with musicians – or any other pairing that widens the audience reach.

So every submission is going to have these markers – a combination of different genres and art.

 


  • I hope Tampered Press receives lots of submissions in the future, so that forthcoming issues are thicker! I know it’s quite early, but what’s in store for the future?

PA: Consistency in both quantity and quality is my first goal – to be able to create enough interest so artists submit for every issue – both digital and print. To create a reliable platform that also serves not only as a publishing hub but an archive for Ghanaian artists.

 

Guidelines for submissions to the magazine are – here.

 


My favorite pieces from the magazine are:

 

If you’re in Accra, purchase a copy of the magazine from ANO Ghana’s office in Osu. If you’re outside of Ghana and would love to indulge in the work of Ghanaian creatives in this magazine, download Issue 1 via Tampered Press‘s website and stay tuned for the other issues in the coming year.

 

Familiarize yourself with Poetra Asantewa’s work via her YouTube channel; listen to her EXCELLENT 2015 Spoken Word EP – Motherfuckitude & listen to her other projects on Soundcloud as well!

#ReadGhanaian
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Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

Date Read: July 28th 2017

Published: February 1999

Publisher: One World / Ballantine

Pages: 288

The Blurb 

This moving memoir of an African-American woman’s lifelong fight to identify and overcome depression offers an inspirational story of healing and emergence. Wrapped within Danquah’s engaging account of this universal affliction is rare and insightful testimony about what it means to be black, female, and battling depression in a society that often idealizes black women as strong, nurturing caregivers. A startlingly honest, elegantly rendered depiction of depression, Willow Weep for Me calls out to all women who suffer in silence with a life-affirming message of recovery. Meri Danquah rises from the pages, a true survivor, departing a world of darkness and reclaiming her life.

 

Review – ★★★★★ (5 stars)

I read Willow Weep for Me last year around this time. After reading, I just wanted the memoir to sit with me for awhile before discussing my thoughts! I learned a lot from this book, but one thing that stuck with me is: Black women are not immune to clinical depression. We need to stop contending with the stereotypic image of strength. This image encourages stoicism while several black women live in denial by denying their pain. And it’s harmful.

The illusion of strength has been and continues to be of major significance to me as a black woman. The one myth that I have had to endure my entire life is that of my supposed birthright to strength. Black women are supposed to be strong – caretakers, nurtures, healers of other people – any of the twelve dozen variations of Mammy. Emotional hardship is supposed to be built into the structure of our lives. It went along with the territory of being both black and female in a society that completely undervalues the lives of black people and regards all women as second-class citizens. It seemed that suffering, for a black woman, was part of the package.

Or so I thought. (pg. 19)

Willow Weep For Me, which was published back in 1999, is a deeply personal memoir on Ghanaian-American writer – Meri Nana-Ama Danquah’s journey through depression. What makes this book truly special is the clarity of Danquah’s writing. This memoir is beautifully laced with poetic phrases and visceral descriptions, giving readers the full experience of various anecdotes and incidences that occurred in her life. I loved how Danquah incorporated the stories of other (black) women’s journeys through depression into this memoir, allowing readers to resonate with the many variations of mental illness. Through other women’s experiences highlighted in this book, I was enlightened on the force of suicidal ideation, seasonal depression and some side-effects of anti-depressants (which varies from person to person).

 

Some of my favorite quotes from the memoir:

White women who suffer from mental illness are depicted as idle, spoiled, or just plain hysterical. Black men are demonized and pathologized. Black women with psychological problems are certainly not seen as geniuses; we are generally not labeled ‘hysterical’ or ‘eccentric’ or even ‘pathological’. When a black woman suffers from a mental disorder, the overwhelming opinion is that she is weak. And weakness in black women is intolerable. (pg. 20)


I’ve frequently been told things like: “Girl, you’ve been hanging out with too many white folk” ; “What do you have to be depressed about? If our people could make it through slavery, we can make it through anything” ; “Take your troubles to Jesus, not no damn psychiatrist.” (pg. 21)


From the beginning, our relationship was formula for disaster. Depressed people often attract unhealthy relationships and inadvertently subject themselves and their already battered self-image, to additional abuse… You feel as if you are worthless so you attach yourself to someone who you think will give your life some meaning, be a safe harbor for your souls. But only you can protect what’s inside. (pg. 41)


I despise the way blackness in the English language, symbolizes death and negativity. Because I believe that the absorption of these connotations contributes to self-hate, I avoid them at all cost (pg 182).


We sat in an awkward silence for some time. I wondered why, after all he had been through with his mother, Eugene welcomed another depressive into his life. Wasn’t he afraid of the consequences? How did he escape the contagious effects of mental illness? (pg. 217)


“Why do you give people so much power over you? That M.D. behind his name just means that he’s trained to facilitate your healing. You’re the one who’s actually got to make it happen. Therapy doesn’t work unless you know what you want out of it. You’re the one who has the power to change things.” (pg. 220)


Racism is definitely in the eye of the beholder. White people have at hand the privilege of choosing whether to see or not see the racism that takes place around them. If Dr. Fitzgerald could not ‘fathom’ my reality as a black person, how would he be able to assess or address the rage, the fear and the host of other complex emotions that go hand-in-hand with being black in a racist society? For whatever reasons, seeing a black therapist had never crossed my mind, until then. (pg. 224)


I love that this memoir ended on a hopeful note and allows readers to view life and it’s challenges from a practical angle. We often forget that going to therapy & support groups, asking questions, talking to family/friends and taking control of your healing by being a partner in your healing process instead of being a mere patient who is being treated, is paramount and empowering.

Now with the importance of mental health getting the attention it needs in the media, I hope more people will discover this timeless memoir. Willow Weep For Me was written almost 20 years ago, and all of Danquah’s experiences and commentary on depression in this memoir are being reiterated in countless articles, think-pieces and seminars on mental health today. Danquah’s daughter (who plays a key role in this memoir!) – Korama (who was a year behind me in high school – GIS) must be SUPER proud of her mother for writing this important, brave, empowering memoir. I’m still in awe and will continue to re-read some of the quotes I highlighted again and again and again. More people NEED to read this memoir.

Before, I used to wonder what my life would have been like had I not gone through my depressions; now, I don’t know if I would trade those experiences. I love who I am. And without those past depressions, I wouldn’t be the same person. (pg. 266)

★★★★★ (5 stars) – Amazing book, I loved it. Absolutely recommend!

Purchase Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression on Amazon

Ghanaian Writers | Book Chat :: with Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

Once again, the month of March is here! Ghana gained independence in March, so I like to dedicate this month to celebrating Ghanaian writers and their work. In the African literature scene, Ghanaian writers and their books are seriously underrated. As a reader of Ghanaian heritage, I enjoy discovering new Ghanaian writers and learning about our pioneer writers. If we don’t celebrate our own, who will?

Last year on African Book Addict! we celebrated 75 Ghanaian writers and their books in a 3-part series. This month, (more like this month), I’ll be in conversation with some of the writers highlighted in last year’s series! This week is the last installment of the conversations I have with writers of Ghanaian descent.


 

This week, I chat with Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond – author of Powder Necklace, which was published in 2010. I enjoyed Powder Necklace back in 2013, before the creation of this book blog (hence no book review on the site). Since my 2018 reading intentions are to re-read some novels and indulge in more work by Ghanaian writers, I shall be re-reading and reviewing Nana Ekua’s coming-of-age debut this year. Enjoy this fun book chat where Nana Ekua talks about what she learned about herself while writing her debut, how she feels about the future of Ghanaian literature, the Black writers who influence her work, new projects that will be published soon & more!

(note – ‘NEBH’ represents Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond’s responses)

••

Check out the synopsis for Powder Necklace below:

To protect her daughter from the fast life and bad influences of London, her mother sent her to school in rural Ghana. The move was for the girl’s own good, in her mother’s mind, but for the daughter, the reality of being the new girl, the foreigner-among-your-own-people, was even worse than the idea. 

During her time at school, she would learn that Ghana was much more complicated than her fellow ex-pats had ever told her, including how much a London-raised child takes something like water for granted. In Ghana, water “became a symbol of who had and who didn’t, who believed in God and who didn’t. If you didn’t have water to bathe, you were poor because no one had sent you some.”

After six years in Ghana, her mother summons her home to London to meet the new man in her mother’s life—and his daughter. The reunion is bittersweet and short-lived as her parents decide it’s time that she get to know her father. So once again, she’s sent off, this time to live with her father, his new wife, and their young children in New York—but not before a family trip to Disney World.

 

  • I remember reading your debut novel, Powder Necklace back in 2013 and resonating with it on so many levels. At the time, I hadn’t read a book that accurately articulated the many issues I had with myself and others (mostly Ghanaians) after I moved to Ghana at the age of 10, so I thank you! Why was it important for you to write the story?

NEBH: Thank you! I’m so glad to know Powder Necklace resonated with you. It was important to me to write Powder Necklace because I had so many misconceptions about Ghana before I went to live and school there at 12.

My parents had pumped it up as this utopia where kids never misbehaved, and would threaten to send my siblings and me there whenever we didn’t act right. Meanwhile, it felt like American news programs of the early ‘80s were conflating the Ethiopian famine with all of Africa. Add that to the Save the Children commercials starring Sally Struthers that were repeatedly on air, and it seemed as if Africa was a Land of Flies and Kwashiorkor-Stricken Children. No wonder some of my classmates in the States thought anyone from Africa was a “Booty Scratcher.”

With Powder Necklace, I wanted to share the slice of Africa I experienced in Ghana. Yes, there was poverty, but there was also wealth and both stations were far more complicated than depicted in American media or even by family. Everything and everyone I encountered was far more nuanced.

I also felt like there weren’t many contemporary books for Black kids who weren’t African-American—at least I hadn’t come across many growing up. In the ‘90s, when Black literature was experiencing a wave with books by Terry McMillan, E. Lynn Harris, Bebe Moore Campbell, J. California Cooper, April Sinclair, et al, most centered on the African-American experience. I wanted Powder Necklace to speak to the experience of being Black and African in the diaspora.

 


  • Did you learn anything about yourself while writing Powder Necklace?

NEBH: I did. Powder Necklace was inspired by my experience getting sent to school in Ghana at 12. It fundamentally changed my personality and intensified my faith in God, but I had not fully dealt with the resentment and anger I felt from being tricked into staying in Ghana. As I began to write the book, I realized how much I had suppressed about the experience. I was surprised by how painful it was to revisit the isolation and fear I felt as a kid when it sunk in that I would be in Ghana without my parents for years, at a boarding school two hours’ drive from my home in Accra.

I had also been hazed by many of my schoolmates during my time at school. In my mind they were all villains, but as I wrote, and had the distance to see myself as a character in a bigger story, I could see the cultural chauvinism I brought to my interactions with my fellow students and still held in some ways.

 


  • Three years ago, I read a compelling essay of yours in Mosaic Literary Magazine – ‘The African Renaissance’, where you discussed the trajectory of African literature over the years and the interrogation of ‘authentic’ African identity tagged to stories and writers. Some writers dislike being ‘pigeon-holed’ and labeled as ‘African writer’ or ‘Black writer.’ How do you prefer to be identified as a writer?

NEBH: I appreciate being identified as an “African writer” or “Black writer” because I am proud of my Africanness and my Blackness. It took me a long time to get here. I had to get over years of cultural indoctrination designed to make me feel ashamed of my dark skin, and my Ghanaian name and origin—and now that I have, I refuse to have my identity erased or downgraded by anyone, including myself.

The only reason being labeled an “African” or a “Black” writer can pigeonhole is because mainstream culture is infected with racist notions about what it means to be African and Black, and the powers that be have a track record of allowing only certain types of narratives by Black people to see the light of day. By standing proudly in my identity and working to tell authentic stories, I am defying the idea that we should be ashamed of who we are and forcing people to see that no race or ethnicity can be narrowed down to one story or experience.

 


  • Do you remember the first book you read by a Ghanaian writer? If so, what book was it and how was the experience? After working on the #GHat60 project last year, I was amazed at the great number of Ghanaian writers doing amazing work. How do you feel about the future of Ghanaian literature?

NEBH: The first book I read by a Ghanaian writer was a play—Ama Ata Aidoo’s The Dilemma of a Ghost. I immediately connected with her story of a Ghanaian man bringing his African-American wife home to Ghana and the clash they were dealing with because I was going through a similar experience as I read it at school in Ghana.

I think the future of Ghanaian literature is limitless. Writers like Kofi Akpabli, Nana-Ama Danquah, Nana Awere Damoah, Esi Edugyan, Martin Egblewogbe, Boakyewaa Glover, Yaa Gyasi, Ayesha Harruna Attah, Lesley Lokko, Cheryl Ntumy, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Kwei Quartey, Taiye Selasi, and yourself are not only writing a diversity of stories, but many are creating opportunities and support systems for other writers.

Nana Awere Damoah has started the Ghana-based online bookstore BookNook, which should make it easier for readers in Ghana to get their hands on books by Ghanaian authors. Together with Kofi Akpabli, Nana Awere Damoah also goes around Ghana producing open mic nights. Martin Egblewogbe co-founded Writers Project Ghana and co-hosts a radio show on Ghana’s Citi FM that features Ghanaian writers as well as writers from all over the continent.

(all these Ghanaian writers were featured in the #GHat60 3-part series, last year)

You have your blog, which promotes African authors, and there are other sites focused on African literature too like Nana-Ama Kyerematen’s AfriDiaspora and Ainehi Edoro’s Brittle Paper. Plus, there are writing contests geared toward young Ghanaians like the #360WritersChallenge, which is aimed at university students and the Blooming Minds Young Writers Award for children, not to mention the proliferation of prizes that have cropped up in the last five years geared toward African writers including the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship.

Right now, Ghanaian writers of any age and stage can find encouragement, support, and inspiration among peers and promoters. If this continues—and I believe it will if we as writers and lovers of literature remain vigilant about creating and supporting individuals, initiatives, and institutions that support us—there’s no reason Ghana can’t be home to a proliferation of powerful literary voices generation after generation.

 


  • What have you been reading and loving lately? And who are some of your favorite Black writers and influencers of your work?

NEBH: I recently devoured Baruch Sterman’s The Rarest Blue. I know I’m so so late on The Life of Pi, but I finally read it and absolutely loved it. Currently, I’m in the middle of Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen.

 

My favorite Black writer is Buchi Emecheta. Reading her work, it’s clear how much empathy she had for her characters, and she had a gift for pacing. In addition to Ms. Emecheta, there are so many Black writers I aspire to be as honest and fearless as in my writing, including Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Both women are such astute and commanding storytellers.

I love the care Ayesha Harruna Attah gives to the tiniest details. NoViolet Buluwayo has a fierce way with words that I deeply admire. I so appreciate the poetry of Taiye Selasi’s style. And Ama Ata Aidoo is a legend. Her commitment to telling nuanced stories of Ghanaian lives, particularly Ghanaian women’s lives, has set the benchmark for contemporary Ghanaian writers.


  • I enjoyed your short story – Mama Africa, which was published in the Africa39 Anthology (2014) and I’m excited to see that you’ll be featured in Everyday People: The Color of Life – a Short Story Anthology this summer (August 2018). Do you have a new novel or collection of stories currently in the works to be published soon?

NEBH: Thank you for reading and following my work! I have finished a second novel that I’m really eager to get out into the world. I don’t have a publication date yet, or a publisher, but I’m confident I will soon. In the meantime, I’m working on another novel, a children’s book series, and a literary project for Ghanaian writers. I also have a short story in the forthcoming anthology Accra Noir.

 


  • Thanks so much for taking the time to participate in this book chat!

NEBH: Thank YOU for all of your support.

 

Purchase Powder Necklace on Amazon

 

 

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Ayesha Harruna Attah, Michael Donkor and Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond for participating in this fun miniseries of book chats! Also, thank you to all the readers of the book blog who have enjoyed these book chats with writers of Ghanaian descent. #ReadGhanaian!


Check out the 75 Ghanaian writers that were highlighted in last year’s 3-part series below:

Ghanaian Writers | Book Chat :: with Ayesha Harruna Attah

Once again, the month of March is here! Ghana gained independence in March (TODAY, March 6th 1957), so I like to dedicate this month to celebrating Ghanaian writers and their work. In the African literature scene, Ghanaian writers and their books are seriously underrated. As a reader of Ghanaian heritage, I enjoy discovering new Ghanaian writers and learning about our pioneer writers. If we don’t celebrate our own, who will?

Last year on African Book Addict! we celebrated 75 Ghanaian writers and their books in a 3-part series. This year (more like this month), I’ll be in conversation with some of the writers highlighted in last year’s series!


 

First up is Ayesha Harruna Attah – author of Harmattan Rain, Saturday’s Shadows and forthcoming The Hundred Wells of Salaga, which will be published by Cassava Republic Press in May! Enjoy this fun book chat where Ayesha talks about the inspirations for her forthcoming novel, the first book she read by a Ghanaian writer & the future of Ghanaian literature, the Black writers who influence her work and why we should indulge in The Hundred Wells of Salaga.

(note – ‘AHA’ represents Ayesha Harruna Attah’s responses)

••

Check out the synopsis for The Hundred Wells of Salaga below:

Aminah lives an idyllic life until she is brutally separated from her home and forced on a journey that turns her from a daydreamer into a resilient woman. Wurche, the willful daughter of a chief, is desperate to play an important role in her father’s court. These two women’s lives converge as infighting among Wurche’s people threatens to cleave the region, during the height of the slave trade at the end of the 19th century.

Set in pre-colonial Ghana, The Hundred Wells of Salaga is a story of courage, forgiveness, love and freedom. Through the experiences of Aminah and Wurche, it offers a remarkable view of slavery and how the scramble for Africa affected the lives of everyday people.

 

  • The Hundred Wells of Salaga is your 3rd forthcoming novel, congratulations on this achievement! When did you first get ideas on the story and how long did it take you to write the novel?

AHA: Thank you! About ten years ago, I found out that my great-great grandmother was enslaved. I wanted to know more. Who was she? Where had she come from? What were her desires before her dreams were snatched away? To unearth more, I made a trip to Salaga, in northern Ghana, where there was an infamous slave market. But I kept hitting walls – either people didn’t want to talk or they didn’t know enough. So in 2012, I decided to research how people ended up in Salaga and to also put my imagination to work. I officially started writing in 2014.

 


  • Did you learn anything about yourself while writing The Hundred Wells of Salaga?

AHA: I learned just how much I didn’t know about African history. For instance, it was a big surprise to me that in the 19th century in the Sokoto Caliphate, there were women teachers, jajis, who taught other women and they used poetry as a way of disseminating values.

 


  • While reading Harmattan Rain, I saw bits of my life reflected in Sugri’s character and in Saturday’s Shadows, Kojo’s character mirrored a lot of my life as well! How much of your personal life seeps into your stories?

AHA: I don’t consciously set out to put my lived experiences into my writing, but it would be almost impossible to divorce myself from my characters. Even if I were writing the vilest character on earth, it would be with my flavor and through my eyes. Of course, there are certain moments in life that are too good to keep to oneself and, those, I very intentionally put into my stories. For instance, the anecdote in Saturday’s Shadows, where a man cuts himself with a blade to prove he’s invincible—that was a real life scene I witnessed.

 


  • Do you remember the first book you read by a Ghanaian writer? If so, what book was it and how was the experience? After working on the #GHat60 project last year, I was amazed at the great number of Ghanaian writers doing amazing work. How do you feel about the future of Ghanaian literature?

AHA: I think it was The Anthill in the Sea, an illustrated poetry book by Atukwei Okai. I don’t even remember how old I was. Maybe seven. I loved it.

On the future of Ghanaian literature, there is so much potential and possibility brimming, which I find really exciting. I think the work the Writers Project of Ghana is doing is commendable and writers such as Ruby Goka, Nana Awere Damoah, Mohammed Naseehu Ali, Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Boakyewaa Glover give me hope for our generation of writers. What we desperately need are publishing houses with serious distribution networks.

(all these Ghanaian writers were featured in the #GHat60 3-part series, last year)

 


  • What have you been reading and loving lately? And who are some of your favorite Black writers and influencers of your work?

AHA: After almost a year and a half of new mummy duties, I have started reading again. Since January, I have read Akwaeke Emezi, JJ Bola, Ayobami Adebayo, all debut novelists and I have loved all their books.

I devour work by Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Bessie Head, Ama Ata Aidoo, Lucille Clifton, and of course, Ayi Kwei Armah, who gave me the push I needed to write my first novel.

 


  • Finally, why would you like readers to indulge in your forthcoming, The Hundred Wells of Salaga? What would you like us to take away from the story?

AHA: The involvement of Africans in the slave trade is a part of history that I feel hasn’t been confronted or dealt with enough. There were entire villages built in rocks to prevent slave raiders from attacking. It was a traumatic moment we suffered on the continent, and if trauma isn’t healed it manifests itself in disease, passiveness, self-harm… The list is endless. My impression is that most African countries do not want to deal with this past. Just recently, the world learned of slave auctions in Libya. I was ashamed and appalled that Ghanaians and Nigerians were involved, once again as middlemen. I hope that this book will wake us up to the role that we played in the slave trade, and begin us on the path of forgiveness and healing.

 

Pre-order The Hundred Wells of Salaga on Amazon

 

Check out my thoughts on Ayesha Harruna Attah’s novels:

Harmattan Rain  |  Saturday’s Shadows

 


Check out the 75 Ghanaian writers that were highlighted in last year’s 3-part series below:

 

GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books (part 3 – finale)

Welcome back to part 3 – the final installment 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 the final installment of the 3-part series and it’s NOT exhaustive by any means. The list is arranged in alphabetical order, of last names.

Note: Images were taken from Goodreads and the respective writers’ websites.

Ama Ata Aidoo

Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo is one of Africa’s foremost woman writers. She’s a feminist, poet, academic, playwright and novelist with many notable works under her belt! Her first play – The Dilemma of a Ghost was published back in 1966 and her debut novel – Our Sister Killjoy was published back in 1977. Aidoo received the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Africa) for her novel entitled Changes in 1992 and she’s the author of many more poetry collections, short stories collections and plays. Her works highlight women experiences like gender and power dynamics, Western influences on African women and women protagonists defying stereotypical gender roles in family and society. On March 16th of this year, the The African University College for Communication named its new creative writing center after this phenomenal woman- Ama Ata Aidoo Center for Creative Writing.


Kofi Anyidoho

Prof. Kofi Anyidoho is a prominent Ghanaian poet, literary scholar, cultural activist and educator. He’s published 5 collections of poetry and some of these collections are accompanied with audio of the poems in Ewe – his native language. Anyidoho has won many awards for his poetry like the BBC Arts and Africa Poetry Award, Davidson Nicol prize, the Langston Hughes award, Valco Fund Literary Award among others!


Ayi Kwei Armah

Ayi Kwei Armah is a highly acclaimed Ghanaian novelist, poet and pan-African. Armah’s work is known to critically examine moral integrity that exists between the past and present, with poetic energy. He’s best known for his debut novel – The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born which was published in 1968 as well as the epic historical novel – Two Thousand Seasons (published in 1973) which received mixed reviews and actually received harsh criticism from Chinua Achebe back in 1987. Last year I attended a talk that featured Ayi Kwei Armah and Ayesha Harruna Attah (who was featured in part 2 of this series) and he discussed his latest projects in hieroglyphics.


Kofi Awoonor

Kofi Awoonor was a phenomenal poet, literary critic and professor of comparative literature. He is the author of novels, plays, political essays, literary criticism, and several volumes of poetry like Rediscovery and Other Poems (1964), Night of My Blood (1971), The House By the Sea (1978), The Promise of Hope: New and Selected Poems (2014) just to name a few. Awoonor made it a point to bring his Ewe culture and ancestry as well as contemporary religious symbolism to depict Africa during the era of decolonization into his poems and other works. Awoonor passed away in the Westgate shopping mall attack in Kenya back in September 2013, but we (Ghanaians and other fans of his work) always make it a point to celebrate him and his great legacy during his birthday. This year on March 13th (his birthday) the hashtag – #Awoonor82 was dedicated to honoring the legend, who would have been 82 years old this year.


Joe de Graft

Joe de Graft was a well-known Ghanaian writer, poet playwright and educator. He’s best known for his play Sons and Daughters (1979) which encourages the youth to follow their dreams. He uses the play to inform Ghanaian youth that careers in medicine, business and law aren’t the only careers that lead to success and inspires them to find interest in the arts like music, dance, writing etc. De Graft is also known for his works Beneath the Jazz and Brass (1975) and Muntu (1977) and Through A Film Darkly (1979). He left a legacy with the launch of the Mfantsipim School (his alma mater) Drama festival.


Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi is a Ghanaian-American novelist who’s debut – Homegoing, has been receiving well-deserved praise ever since it was published last year. I absolutely loved Homegoing and I explain why in a personal book review I posted last year. But we’re still waiting for Yaa Gyasi to grace Accra with her presence ohhh! Hopefully she’ll plan a trip soon, so that Ghanaians can engage with her and her book at a reading.


Kojo Laing

Kojo Laing is a poet, novelist and educator. Laing is the author of the novels Search Sweet Country (1986), Women of the Aeroplanes (1988)Major Gentl and the Achimota Wars (1992), Big Bishop Roko and the Altar Gangsters (2006) and the poetry collection Godhorse (1989). His poetry addresses the themes of identity and alienation while his novels combine magical realism with political commentary. Some readers have described his debut – Search Sweet Country as reading a dream with intense vivid imagery and humanization of inanimate objects. Laing’s work is an absorbing experience I hope to encounter soon when I indulge in his debut.


Atukwei Okai

Prof. Atukwei Okai is a prolific poet, cultural activist and academic with many accomplished works and honors. Some of his works include: Flowerfall (1969), Oath Of The Fontomfrom and Other Poems (1971), Lorgorligi: Logarithms and Other Poems (1974), Freedom Symphony: Selected and New Love Poems (2008), Mandela the Spear and Other Poems (2013) as well as children’s books like – The Anthill In the Sea: Verses and chants for children (1988), amongst others!


Taiye Selasi

Taiye Selasi is a writer and photographer of Ghanaian and Nigerian descent who popularized the term Afropolitan, thanks to her 2005 (controversial) essay – Bye-Bye, Babar. Selasi’s writing explores our relationships to our multiple identities – intersectionalities, if you will. She’s most popular for her debut novel – Ghana Must Go (2013). I particularly enjoyed her TEDGlobal talk (2014): Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m a local.


Efua Sutherland

Efua Sutherland was a phenomenal Ghanaian writer, dramatist, teacher, scholar and cultural activist. For about 40 years, she was in the forefront of literary and theatrical movements in Ghana (from the 1950’s) and was a key player in pushing African performance to the university level. She was instrumental in founding various literary establishments like Ghana Society of Writers, the literary magazine Okyeame, the Ghana Drama Studio and the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Center for Pan African Culture (which is still in great shape in Cantonments, Accra). She’s well known for her works: Foriwa (1962), Edufa (1967), and The Marriage of Anansewa (1975). Find out more about Sutherland at the Mmofra Foundation – where children and culture connect, for which she is the founder.


Below are some HONORARY MENTIONS comprising of both budding and established writers of Ghanaian descent who you should definitely keep an eye out for. Click on their names to check out their writing portfolios, publications and/or websites:

  • Other YA writers: Nana Yaa Amankwa, Kwabena Ankomah-Kwakye, Adwoa Badoe, Elizabeth-Irene Baitie, Manu Herbstein, CNN Lokko.

The end of March is finally here, so the Ghana at 60| Our Writers & Their Books series has come to an end. A TOTAL of 75 Ghanaian writers (including honorary mentions) have been highlighted, as well as some of their work. It has been a pleasure sharing with the world our accomplished Ghanaians writers.

Food for thought: While I feel much pride in highlighting our Ghanaian writers, I also worry that most Ghanaians will never get the chance to read some of these authors’ work. Books by writers of African descent are pretty scarce here in Accra – several titles are either not sold in bookstores or they are super expensive so the average Ghanaian can’t afford them. Readers living abroad can get easy access to all of the works mentioned in this series, thanks to various online bookstores and several well stocked bookstores with African/Black fiction. But how about readers living in Ghana? How can works by Ghanaian writers be accessible to everyone and at affordable prices?

With the plethora of Ghanaian writers and books highlighted in this series, there is no excuse if anyone claims they don’t know (m)any writers from Ghana! I’d love to know who I missed (there are many more writers out there!) – kindly share other writers in the comments. And be sure to share this loaded resource with others, so they can indulge in Ghanaian literature as well.

GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books (part 2)

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

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

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.


Yaba Blay

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 Chela

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books (part 1)

Happy Independence Day to all Ghanaians! Ghana is 60 years old today.

After about 113 years of British rule, Ghana gained independence on this day – March 6th, 1957. Our independence pioneered and encouraged other African nations to also fight for their independence from colonial rule. We’ve come a long way and still have a ways to go, but I’m proud to be a Ghanaian.

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 1 of a 3-part series and it’s NOT exhaustive by any means. The list is arranged in alphabetical order, of last names.

Sophia Acheampong

I think Sophia Acheampong’s books have the cutest book covers, ever! Acheampong is a Ghanaian-British author of YA (young adult) fiction. Growing Yams in London (2006) and iPods in Accra (2009) follow fourteen year old British-born Makeeda who’s trying to balance both Ghanaian and British identities in the ultra-modern world of social media and instant messaging.


G.A. Agambila

Dr. Gheysika Adombire Agambila is a native of Bolgatanga (in the Upper East Region of Ghana) and is the author of two novels – Journey (2006) and Emigrant (2016). I’m not really crazy about the cover art for Journey, but I’ve seen the book in quite a few bookshops here in Accra. Ann Morgan of blog – A Year of Reading the World chose to read Journey for her Ghana pick and her book review made me add it to my TBR.


Mohammed Naseehu Ali

Mohammed Naseehu Ali is a Ghanaian writer based in New York City. I read a book review of Ali’s short story collection – The Prophet of Zongo Street (2006) last year and was determined to purchase it once I spotted it in bookstores. If you would like to get a feel of his writing, check out two short stories: Mallam Sile & My Name is Not Cool Anymore, published in The New Yorker & The New York Times respectively.


Asabea Ashun

Asabea Ashun is the pseudonym of Dr. Mary Ashun who has published a good number of YA (young adult) fiction and adventure stories for children. Last year, I purchased her latest novel, Serwa Akoto’s Diary (2013) which follows a young lady, Serwa Akoto on her quest to blend her Ghanaian heritage and Canadian lifestyle.


Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is a Ghanaian-American writer who is the author of Powder Necklace (2010). Powder Necklace is a coming-of-age tale that follows Lila, who was born and raised in England. She’s later sent to Ghana to attend a local boarding school (mirrored off Mfantsiman Girls’ High School in Cape Coast, Ghana) and life takes a 360 degree turn for Lila with respect to her identity and the concept of home. I read the novel back in 2013 and deeply appreciated it as I could relate to the story on many levels. I hope Nana Ekua’s second novel is in the works!


Akosua Busia

If you’ve seen the film The Color Purple, Akosua Busia may look familiar as she played Nettie in it! Akosua Busia is an actress, author, song-writer and film director. The Seasons of Beento Blackbird: A Novel (1997) is Busia’s debut.


Nana Awere Damoah

Nana Awere Damoah is a chemical engineer and author of four non-fiction books. I’ve spotted his most recent book – Sebitically Speaking (2015) in bookshops here in Accra. His other works include I Speak of Ghana (2013), Through the Gates of Thought (2010), Excursions in my Mind (2008) and a collection of short stories called Tales from Different Tails (2011). Damoah’s writing draws readers’ attention to issues that plague the nation and its citizens, with a satirical flavor that will kick anyone into questioning their priorities. Damoah’s work will be reviewed on this platform soon!


Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

Meri Nana-Ama Danquah is a Ghanaian-American writer, editor and journalist. I purchased an anthology edited by Danquah – The Black Body, back in 2009 and found it compelling. Meri Nana-Ama Danquah is best known for her 1998 memoir Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression, which I MUST get my hands on soon. In these tumultuous times, her memoir would definitely be a timely read with discourse on mental health and self-care.


Amma Darko

Amma Darko is one of my favorite Ghanaian writers and I feel she is SERIOUSLY underrated. Her 1995 debut, Beyond the Horizon is a tragic masterpiece that I think all book lovers need to read! It’s an uncomfortable read, but important work of art on feminism, immigration, racism, chauvinism and so much more. I plan on reading her 2003 novel, Faceless at some point this year.


Amu Djoleto

Amu Djoleto is a writer and educator who’s novels are quite popular in Ghanaian primary and secondary schools (elementary, middle and high schools). He’s best known for his debut novel – The Strange Man, which is part of the African Writers Series.


Boakyewaa Glover

I met Boakyewaa Glover early last year and she was gracious enough to gift me with two of her novels – Tendai: Nature and Science Unleashed and The Justice: A Political Thriller! I finished reading Tendai last year and the novel was a good blend of sci-fi and mystery. Her latest novel – The Justice was published back in 2013 and is very high up on my TBR list. Apparently the sex scenes in The Justice are pretty spicy, which is rare for Africa fiction. I love that Glover’s books are available in many boutiques and shops, including Shell service station shops, making her work accessible to all Ghanaians.


Mamle Kabu

Mamle Kabu or Mamle Wolo are the pseudonyms of Martina Odonkor, who is a writer of Ghanaian and German ancestry. I was pleasantly surprised to find that her short story ‘The End of Skill’ was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2009 (the year E.C Osondu won!). Kabu’s YA (young adult) novel The Kaya-Girl won the Burt Award for African Literature in 2011. The cover art for The Kaya-Girl is stunning.


Benjamin Kwakye

Benjamin Kwakye is a lawyer and novelist with a couple of book awards under his belt. His debut novel, The Clothes of Nakedness (1998) won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Kwakye’s sophomore novel, The Sun By Night (which has awesomely eccentric cover art) rightfully won the 2006 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Africa Region). Out of Kwakye’s books catalogue, I think his debut and sophomore books have the best book covers!


Nana Prah

Nana Prah is a Ghanaian multicultural romance writer. She has about 8 books that have been published and most of them are available for purchase online. Does anyone know if her books are sold here in Accra? Last year I read 2 romance novels and I can’t wait to grab a book from Nana Prah’s collection next! Check out her blog: http://nanaprah.blogspot.com/


Kwei Quartey

Dr. Kwei Quartey is a Ghanaian crime fiction writer. His Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery series is pretty popular, and I love the cover art work for all the books in this series! Late 2014, I really enjoyed his reading that was held here in Accra. He currently resides in California and juggles being a physician and a writer. Book 5 of the series, Death by His Grace will be released August of this year.


Frances Mensah Williams

Frances Mensah Williams is an award-winning Ghanaian-British author of women’s fiction. If you’ve read any books published by the independent publishing house based in London – Jacaranda Books, Williams’s name and her books may look familiar. She created the light-hearted, contemporary series – From Pasta to Pigfoot (2015), which follows London born and bred Faye Bonsu, on her journey to understanding her native Ghanaian culture.



Are you familiar with any of these Ghanaian authors? Have you read any of the books mentioned above? 

The month of March will be dedicated to honoring Ghanaian authors as it is Ghana’s month of independence. Many more writers will be highlighted in this series! Stay tuned for Part 2 of GH at 60 | Our Writers & Their Books.

Note: Images were taken from Goodreads and the respective writers’ websites.

Lizard & Other Stories by Marcelle Mateki Akita

Date Read: December 27th 2016

Published: December 18th 2016

Publisher: Marcelle Mateki Akita

Pages: 63

 

 

 

 

The Blurb

Follow the stories of five young characters who try to make sense of loss, sex and sexuality in Lizard & Other Stories. Marcelle Mateki Akita explores how topics such as broken family and romantic relationships, sexual violence and masturbation impact a young girl and woman’s development. The collection’s short stories and flash fiction focus on girls and women of Ghanaian and mixed heritage. Written in an imaginative and sobering style, Lizard & Other Stories will unsettle and surprise you.

 

Review – ★★★ (3 stars)

How cute is the cover art of Lizard & Other Stories? The beads are truly attractive! Lizard & Other Stories is the good debut of short stories by reader, researcher and co-founder of Afrikult. (a literary platform that discusses, explores and celebrates the diversity of African literature) – Marcelle Mateki Akita. The collection consists of five stories that focus mainly on girls and women of Ghanaian or mixed heritage. The stories in this collection are vivid, bold and told in a calm manner. Once I started reading, I was drawn into Marcelle’s comfy, calm writing style, which allowed me to get to know the characters at relatively good paces. Some issues explored in this collection are: coming of age, religion, family, sexuality, (domestic) violence, naivety and betrayal.

What makes this collection special is the ambiguous nature of all the stories. If you read this collection more than once – which I highly encourage, you will realize that there are various interpretations and extra, juicy details you probably missed during the first reading. When I got the chance to discuss Lizard & Other Stories with Marcelle during Christmas break, I realized I interpreted the stories, especially the final one, entitled Kwesi, in a completely different way than she did. It takes talent to pull that off, even if it’s never a writers’ intention to give stories various meanings. Another thing that’s great about this collection is the unpredictability of the stories. I felt really cozy while reading the first story, entitled Ama, until the story took an unexpected turn and left a sour taste in my mouth. From the way the stories commence to their finality are polar opposites, which was refreshing!

I would’ve been more satisfied with these stories if the characters were developed a little further for readers to fully understand their actions. Also, some passages in this collection seemed overly descriptive, which isn’t my preference when reading short stories and flash fiction. But I must say, the vivid descriptions certainly allow one to picture exactly what is being observed, which was appreciated.

If you want to indulge in bold, unpredictable stories written in a calm voice, definitely look into reading this collection! I eagerly look forward to Marcelle’s future projects – a novel soon, maybe? Pretty please?

Special thanks to Marcelle, for the free copy of Lizards & Other Stories, in exchange for an honest review 🙂


To get a feel of her writing, check out Marcelle’s story that was published by AFREADA last year – Cassava’s Finest

Read more of Marcelle’s work on her websiteShe posts wonderful musings of the mind and soul every Monday and 100 word stories every Wednesday.

★★★ (3 stars) – Good book. I recommend it, I guess.

Purchase Lizard & Other Stories on Amazon