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NEW AFRICAN WRITERS TO GÖTEBORG BOOK FAIR

Pressmeddelande   •   Sep 21, 2010 10:06 CEST

They have won The Orange Award, the Wole Soyinka Prize, the Noma Award and The Guardian’s First Book Prize. They have been nominated to the Pushcart Prize, listed as the ‘New Literary Idol’ by New York Magazine, acknowledged by International PEN and praised by media the world over. A literary Dream Team of new African writers are now visiting the 2010 Göteborg Book Fair where Africa will be in focus. Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein (Sudan), Sefi Atta (Nigeria), Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe), Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia) and Irene Sabatini (Zimbabwe) are representatives of a new generation of African authors who are on their way to conquer the world. Read on for a presentation of these writers who deserve more attention.

Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein was born in 1973 into a socially traditional Sudanese environment. She was a well known journalist in Sudan until pressure from the censor forced her to stop writing. In the summer of 2009, Lubna and ten other women were arrested by the police at a restaurant in Khartoum. Their ‘crime’ – they were wearing trousers. The Sudanese law punishes this ‘public morality crime’ with 40 lashes and a fine. She has written the book 40 lashes for a pair of trousers, an eyewitness account of the ‘crime’ against the background of the history of her native land, which is weighed down by the double burden of Sharia law and the traditions of the country. Her brave and open actions have brought her to the attention of International PEN and media the world over. In August, her book was published in Swedish, translated by Camilla Nilsson and published by Sekwa förlag.
Sefi Atta was born in 1964 in Lagos, Nigeria. In 1994 she moved to the US and started writing. Her literary work includes essays, short stories, novels and radio plays. She lives today in Mississippi, but almost all of her stories and books take place in Nigeria. With an unerring sense of style, she tells the tales of ordinary people, often in a humorous and ironic tone. Bokförlaget Tranan publishes Sefi Atta’s debut novel Everything Good Will Come, in September 2010 in a translation by Birgitta Wallin. Her first novel won the first Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature in 2006. That was followed by her short story collection News from Home which was awarded the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa, to be presented at the 2010 Göteborg Book Fair. Her second novel, Swallow, will be published in the US in September 2010.

Petina Gappah was born in Zimbabwe. She studied law at the universities in Cambridge, Graz and Harare. She has worked for many years as legal counsel in an international organization that provides legal aid on international trade law to developing countries. She comes to Göteborg Book Fair with her book debut, the short story collection An Elegy for Easterly, which was published in the spring of 2010 in Sweden by Albert Bonniers, in a translation by Helena Hansson. With her assured style, Gappah guides her readers through the fate of different characters in today’s Zimbabwe, creating a feeling of true and close meetings between reader and character. Every main character is created with irony, inner warmth or friendly humour. While the Zimbabwean character shines through clear and strong, the human attributes are universal: vanity, greed, longing, pride. Gappah won The Guardian’s First Book Prize in December 2009 and has been nominated to several other prizes in 2010.

Maaza Mengiste was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. When she was just four years old, the family was forced to flee, and she grew up in Nigeria, Kenya and the US. She has a degree in literature from the University of New York and lives in New York today. She is recognized as one of the many gifted young voices writing about the African continent and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and named as a ‘New Literary Idol’ by New York Magazine. Her debut novel Beneath the Lion’s Gaze begins the same evening as the brutal Ethiopian revolution breaks out in 1974. It is a portrayal of just how far people are prepared to go in order to reach freedom, and on the great human tragedy which follows in the wake of a civil war. A gripping family history about how feelings are distorted by a brutal regime. The novel will be published in 2010 in Sweden, by Forum bokförlag, in a translation by Ylva Spångberg.

Irene Sabatini was born in south west Zimbabwe forty years ago. After university studies in Harare, and while teaching for four years in Colombia, she began writing. After Bogota she moved to the Caribbean and then back to Harare, where she worked as an editor. She lives now in Geneva and writes full time. Her debut novel, The Boy Next Door, was published in 2009 and enthusiastically received. It tells a tale of love across racial boundaries, and depicts Bulawayo in the 1980s, during the violent years directly after independence. The book won the British Orange Award for New Writers. In August 2010, Norstedts is publishing Pojken på andra sidan in a Swedish translation by Inger Johansson.

Read more about the programme and the entire Africa theme at www.goteborg-bookfair.com

The Göteborg Book Fair is the biggest book fair in Scandiavaia with 100 000 visitors during four days. It is held at the Swedish Exhibition Centre in Göteborg, Sweden, Sept 23-26 , 2010.

For more information, contact:
Partik Lindgren, Press Officer, Africa theme, patrik.lindgren@nai.uu.se,
tel +46709-557225
Birgitta Jacobsson Ekblom, Public Affairs Manager, Göteborg Book Fair,
bje@goteborg-bookfair.com, tel +46 701 61 65 09