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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie awarded PEN Pinter Prize

The critically acclaimed Nigerian novelist and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient whose TEDx-talk on feminism was appropriated in Beyoncé’s “Flawless”, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, has been announced as the recipient of the PEN Pinter Prize 2018!

Adichie was selected as the winner of this prestigious award by this year’s judging panel, president of English PEN Philippe Sands; historian, biographer and widow of Harold Pinter Antonia Fraser; writer and critic Alex Clark; poet, playwright and performer Inua Ellams, and Chair of Judges and Chair of trustees for English PEN Maureen Freely.

This globally renowned writer, advocate for gender equality, and vocal supporter of the representation of African culture in the international literary sphere, certainly is a worthy recipient of the PEN Pinter Prize. Established in 2009 and named in memory of Nobel Laureate playwright, Harold Pinter, this prize is allocated to an author who’s work possesses “outstanding literary merit”.

The PEN Pinter Prize is awarded annually to an author from Britain, the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth, who’s penmanship – in the words of Pinter’s Nobel Prize for Literature speech – bestows an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world and shows a ‘fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies’. Previous winners include Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi and Carol Ann Duffy.

Adichie comments:

I admired Harold Pinter’s talent, his courage, his lucid dedication to telling his truth, and I am honoured to be given an award in his name.

She will receive the award on 9 October.

Purple Hibiscus

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Half of a Yellow Sun

 
 

The Thing Around Your Neck

 
 
 
 
Americanah

Launch – Born in Chains: The Diary of an Angry ‘Born-Free’ by Clinton Chauke (7 June)

What is it like to be born dirt-poor in South Africa? Clinton Chauke knows, having been raised alongside his two sisters in a remote village bordering the Kruger National Park and a squatter camp outside Pretoria.

Clinton is a young village boy when awareness dawns of how poor his family really is: there’s no theft in the village because there’s absolutely nothing to steal. But fire destroys the family hut, and they decide to move back to the city. There he is forced to confront the rough-and-tumble of urban life as a ‘bumpkin’. He is Venda, whereas most of his classmates speak Zulu or Tswana and he has to face their ridicule while trying to pick up two or more languages as fast as possible.

With great self-awareness, Clinton negotiates the pitfalls and lifelines of a young life: crime and drugs, football, religion, friendship, school, circumcision and, ultimately, becoming a man. Throughout it all, he displays determination as well as a self-deprecating humour that will keep you turning the pages till the end.

Clinton’s story is one that will give you hope that even in a sea of poverty there are those that refuse to give up and, ultimately, succeed.

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Launch: Who Will Rule in 2019? by Jan-Jan Joubert (30 May)

The ANC received a bloody nose in the 2016 local elections, when it lost three major metros to the opposition. Will the fractured ruling party be able to reunite under Cyril Ramaphosa and gain a majority at the polls in 2019? Or could the DA and the EFF overcome their vast ideological divide to oust the ANC?

The South African political landscape has changed dramatically since Jacob Zuma stepped down as president. Veteran political journalist Jan-Jan Joubert looks at all the possible scenarios, taking us behind the scenes into a world of political horse trading to analyse the options available to all the parties in the run-up to the next election.

Will the oldest liberation movement in Africa have to form a coalition to stay in power? And what is the likelihood of the ANC’s turning to the EFF to bolster its support?

One thing is certain: deals will be done. By examining the results of the local elections, Joubert argues that the 2019 national elections may well be the first in 25 years in which no party wins an outright majority.

In exclusive interviews, political leaders also share their views on the major issues dividing – or perhaps uniting – South Africa today, and point the way to a new political future.

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Launch: Who Will Rule in 2019? by Jan-Jan Joubert (24 May)

The ANC received a bloody nose in the 2016 local elections, when it lost three major metros to the opposition. Will the fractured ruling party be able to reunite under Cyril Ramaphosa and gain a majority at the polls in 2019? Or could the DA and the EFF overcome their vast ideological divide to oust the ANC?
The South African political landscape has changed dramatically since Jacob Zuma stepped down as president. Veteran political journalist Jan-Jan Joubert looks at all the possible scenarios, taking us behind the scenes into a world of political horse trading to analyse the options available to all the parties in the run-up to the next election. Will the oldest liberation movement in Africa have to form a coalition to stay in power? And what is the likelihood of the ANC’s turning to the EFF to bolster its support?

One thing is certain: deals will be done. By examining the results of the local elections, Joubert argues that the 2019 national elections may well be the first in 25 years in which no party wins an outright majority.

In exclusive interviews, political leaders also share their views on the major issues dividing – or perhaps uniting – South Africa today, and point the way to a new political future.

Event Details

Launch: London Rules by Mick Herron (22 May)

London Rules might not be written down, but everyone knows rule one. Cover your arse. Regent’s Park’s First Desk, Claude Whelan, is learning this the hard way.

Tasked with protecting a beleaguered prime minister, he’s facing attack from all directions himself: from the showboating MP who orchestrated the Brexit vote, and now has his sights set on Number Ten; from the showboat’s wife, a tabloid columnist, who’s crucifying Whelan in print; from the PM’s favourite Muslim, who’s about to be elected mayor of the West Midlands, despite the dark secret he’s hiding; and especially from his own deputy, Lady Di Taverner, who’s alert for Claude’s every stumble. Meanwhile, the country’s being rocked by an apparently random string of terror attacks, and someone’s trying to kill Roddy Ho.

Over at Slough House, the crew are struggling with personal problems: repressed grief, various addictions, retail paralysis, and the nagging suspicion that their newest colleague is a psychopath. But collectively, they’re about to rediscover their greatest strength – that of making a bad situation much, much worse. It’s a good job Jackson Lamb knows the rules. Because those things aren’t going to break themselves.

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Sisonke Msimang & Eusebius McKaiser in discussion at Bridge Books (16 May)


In her much anticipated memoir, Sisonke Msimang writes about her exile childhood in Zambia and Kenya, young adulthood and college years in North America, and returning to South Africa in the euphoric 1990s.

She reflects candidly on her discontent and disappointment with present-day South Africa but also on her experiences of family, romance, and motherhood, with the novelist’s talent for character and pathos. Militant young comrades dance off the pages of the 1970s Lusaka she invokes, and the heady and naive days of just-democratic South Africa in the 1990s are as vividly painted. Her memoir is at heart a chronicle of a coming-of-age, and while well-known South African political figures appear in these pages, it is an intimate story, a testament to family bonds and sisterhood.

Sisonke Msimang is one of the most assured and celebrated voices commenting on the South African present – often humorously; sometimes deeply movingly – and this book launches her to an even broader audience.
 
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Launch: What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons (9 May)

A short, intense and profoundly moving debut novel about race, identity, sex and death. Thandi is American, but not as American as some of her friends. She is South African, but South Africa terrifies her. She is a black woman with light skin.

Her mother is dying.

In exquisite vignettes of wry warmth and extraordinary emotional power, What We Lose tells Thandi’s story. Raw and artful, minimal yet rich, it is an intimate portrait of love and loss, and a fierce meditation on race, sex, identity, and staying alive.

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Master storyteller Wilbur Smith releases his memoir

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An entertaining, rugged read which continues to make you root for the odd, damaged and potentially psychopathic slow horses – Margaret von Klemperer reviews Mick Herron’s London Rules

Published in The Witness

London Rules is the fifth novel in Mick Herron’s Slow Horses series of spy thrillers, and for anyone keen to read them – and they are great fun – the best place to start would be at the beginning. To be able to follow what is going on, knowledge of the back story is vital.

The slow horses are a bunch of disgraced spies who have been banished to a dismal, semi-derelict building called Slough House in a gloomy part of London. They haven’t done anything bad enough to be completely dismissed from the service, or else the service wants to keep an eye on them, not cut them loose. Their boss is the utterly repulsive and fiendishly clever Jackson Lamb, who once worked as a spy behind the Iron Curtain, and who has enough skeletons in his cupboard to furnish a catacomb.

Britain is being targeted by a series of terror attacks, vicious, not entirely competent and increasingly bizarre. It is not something the slow horses have been asked to help with, but Roddy Ho, possibly the oddest member of their odd crew, seems to be the target of another not entirely competent killer. Inevitably, there is a link.

The cover blurb, from Val McDermid, calls Herron “the John le Carre of our generation”, but he isn’t. His books aren’t driven by the moral indignation that makes Le Carre one of a kind and gives his storytelling a fundamental seriousness. Sure, Herron is scathing about contemporary politicians and politics and the spying establishment, and for anyone who follows the news, there are plenty of recognisable figures in the picture he paints, but the main thrust of Herron’s enterprise is entertainment, not outrage.

The entertainment is of a rugged kind: these books are not for the squeamish, and certainly not for those committed to political correctness, but odd, damaged, and potentially psychopathic as the slow horses are, you can’t help rooting for them. And mysterious and awful as he is, Jackson Lamb’s one redeeming feature is that he watches over his team, and can, more or less, dig them out of any trouble they get into. And trouble follows them, in spades.

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Launch: Like Sodium in Water by Hayden Eastwood (19 April)

 

“Dad thinks lots of things are right-wing. He even thinks He-Man is right-wing. I ask Dad who we are and he says left-wing. Left is opposite to right. If right is bad, then we’re the opposite of that, which means we’re good.”

It’s post-independence Zimbabwe and an atmosphere of nostalgia hangs over much of Harare’s remaining white community. Hayden Eastwood grows up in a family that sets itself apart, distinguishing themselves from Rhodie-Rhodies through their politics: left is good; right is bad.

Within the family’s free and easy approach to life, Hayden and his younger brother, Dan, make a pact to never grow up, to play hide and seek and build forts forever, and to never, ever be interested in girls. But as Hayden and Dan develop as teenagers, and the chemicals of adolescence begin to stir, their childhood pact starts to unravel.

And with the arrival of Sarah into their lives, the two brothers find themselves embroiled in an unspoken love triangle. While Sarah and Hayden spend increasing amounts of time together, Dan is left to deal with feelings of rejection and the burden of hidden passion alone, and the demise of a silly promise brings with it a wave of destruction.

Laced with humour, anger and sadness, Like Sodium in Water is an account of a family in crisis and an exploration of how we only abandon the lies we tell ourselves when we have no other option.
 
The Author
When not informing people about the inadvisability of push-starting motorbikes in close proximity to rivers, Hayden Eastwood develops cryptocurrency trading bots as part of a high-risk low-return business venture portfolio. Non-transferable skills from a doctorate in computational physics have likewise ill-equipped him for gooseberry farming, vehicle maintenance and relationships with women. He lives in Harare.

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