• Interview

    Podcast #4: Ellah Wakatama Allfrey

    Ellah Wakatama Allfrey is a former deputy editor at Granta magazine and former senior editor at Jonathan Cape, Random House. She has edited anthologies such as Africa 39. New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara and Safe House. Creative Non-Fiction From Africa. Allfrey has been a judge for a variety of literary prizes such as Man Booker, Dublin International Literary Award, and Commonwealth Short Story Prize. This year, she was appointed as the new chairwoman of the Caine Prize for African Writing. Furthermore, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey is the founding Publishing Director of The Indigo Press, a very exciting, fairly new-ish publisher. We sat down in April during the African Book Festival Berlin and talked about…

  • Discussion

    Brilliant Achilles, shining Achilles – Greek myths, women’s voices, and colonial violence

    In “The Public Voice of Women”, the classicist Mary Beard writes about a text by Aristophanes: “Part of the joke was that women couldn’t speak properly in public – or rather, they couldn’t adapt their private speech […] to the lofty idiom of male politics”. Beard examines in her text how (Western) ideas about public speech and debate are infused with ideas (“conventions and rules”) developed in ancient Greece and Rome. Analyzing exemplary texts, she argues that public speaking and oratory was not only a practice women were barred from but even more so “exclusive practices and skills that defined masculinity as a gender”. When I read through her analysis,…

  • Review

    Moving Through the World (Happy?) Fat

    Last year in July, I almost fainted when I saw Danish UK-based comedian Sofie Hagen perform in Berlin. Now my near collapsing wasn’t so much swooning – though Sofie Hagen might merit that – but due to being stuck in a very small, very hot, and pretty much void of oxygen venue. But still, in the end, I was very glad I had persevered because Hagen’s show made me laugh full heartedly, giggle, and tear up.  In a short amount of time, Hagen managed to tell a story of growing up in Denmark, the relationship to her body, and the experience of sexualized violence. Before that performance, I had watched…

  • Lists

    Women’s Prize for Fiction: My Personal Shortlist

    Tonight at midnight the Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist will be announced. So, a few hours left to be cheer for one’s favourite books on the list and guess what will actually make the cut. During the last two months, I have read (almost) all books of the longlist I had not yet read. Having worked my way through the list, I can say that I appreciate the variety in styles and themes. Although I  also questioned the inclusion of some titles (especially when thinking about some ommissions from the list). I tried to categorize all the books and within each category, they are roughly sorted from ‘liked most’ to ‘liked least’.…

  • Interview

    Podcast #3: Namwali Serpell

    Namwali Serpell is an award-winning author and associate professor of English at UC Berkeley.  Her first published story, “Muzungu,” was selected for The Best American Short Stories 2009, shortlisted for the 2010 Caine Prize. Five years later she won the Caine Prize with her story „The Sack“. Her debut novel, The Old Drift, was published in March to much acclaim. (I wrote about five aspects I loved about The Old Drift.) Serpell also regularly publishes essays such as “The Banality of Empathy” or “Beauty Tips From My Dead Sister“. We talked about crossing genres, writing diverse female experiences, mosquitos, re-evaluating history, and why empathy is not everything.  This episode was recorded during the African Book…

  • Lists

    April, May, June: 15(+) Most-Anticipated Books

    The first quarter of 2019 is almost over and it is time to look into the next three month. There are so many fascinating books coming out – some by already well-loved authors and also super-interesting debuts. I share brief descriptions of each book (either from Goodreads or the publisher’s page, sometimes abridged) and in a few words why I am excited about it! I introduce my five top picks for each month and name a few additional titles because there are just so many promising books. April Sabrina & Corina: Stories (Kali Fajardo-Anstine) Synopsis: Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s magnetic story collection breathes life into her Latina characters of indigenous ancestry and…

  • Lists,  Review

    5 Reasons Why I Loved Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift

    In 2009, Namwali Serpell’s short story “Muzungu” published in Callaloo was selected for The Best American Short Stories 2009 and a year later it was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing (a prize she would go on winning five years later). Now, this story – reworked – sits in the middle of Serpell’s spellbinding, epic 560-pages long debut novel The Old Drift. After having finished it, I felt like I had just read five different books. It is so rich, brimming with ideas, fantastical in it turns.  While I am still gathering all my thoughts (for a more thorough review published elsewhere) and already planning a re-read, I want to share…

  • Review

    “All the ghosts of life/ assemble before us”

    This March started with a bang for poetry. On the first day of the month, University Press of Nebraska published Tjawangwa Dema’s debut collection The Careless Seamstress and Mahtem Shiferraw’s sophomore collection Your Body is War as part of the African Poetry Book Series. Both poets are deeply invested in interrogating the ways women experience this world and crafting a specific language and imagery to capture these experiences. Tjawangwa Dema’s chapbook Mandible had been included in the box set Seven New Generation African Poets five years ago – other poets of that group like Warsan Shire, Nick Makoha, and Ladan Osman have also gone on to publish celebrated works since. Now it is Dema’s turn…

  • Discussion

    The Great White Feminist Novel

    On November 28th, Margaret Atwood wrote a tweet which excited many. Thirty years after the publications of her seminal dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale (and during its successful run as a TV series), Atwood announced that she was writing a sequel: The Testaments will be published in September this year. It seems to be a good time for grand feminist novels which do not hide their feminist themes but make them front and centre.  In 2017, Naomi Alderman won the Women’s Prize for Fiction with her dystopian novel The Power in which teenage girls gain physical power and power relations start to shift. Last year, Meg Wolitzer published The Female Persuasion, a 450-pages long examination of different…

  • Interview

    Podcast #2: Musa Okwonga

    Musa Okwonga is a poet, essayist, journalist, writer, and musician. His writing has appeared in several outlets. He has published two books on football –  A Cultured Left Foot (2007) and Will You Manage? (2010) – as well as a poetry collection (Eating Roses for Dinner). Okwonga contributed to award-winning anthologies like The Good Immigrant (2016) and Change Gonna Come (2018). One of his essays (“The Good Bisexual”) is included in the upcoming book Safe: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space (ed. Eric Osuwu). His “future blues” band BBXO released its first singles last year and already garnered a good amount of praise. If you want to follow and support his work, you can check out his…