Showing posts with tag: Africa


Somewhere Between The Borders: Supersonic Bus

"You are travelling from Port Harcourt to Yenagoa. Everybody knows the best place to board a cheap bus is at Mile One Bus Park, right under the bridge... Loaded shopping baskets have vanished from the heads of women who paused just for one quick bargain before heading home. Here, men have miraculously lost their penises." Read more →

AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers

It’s an exciting time for African science fiction, marked most recently by the release of StoryTime’s 'AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers', a short story collection edited by Zimbabwean writer and publisher Ivor Hartmann: “If you can’t see and relay an understandable vision of the future, your future will be co- opted by someone else’s vision, one that will not necessarily have your best interests at heart.” Read more →

Leah Griesmann Wins Litro’s Random House Books Giveaway

Recently, we asked our readers to send in a short review of their favourite book of 2012. We’re pleased to announce that our favourite review was by Leah Griesmann, of Krys Lee’s short story collection, Drifting House.

Leah wins two Random House titles, Marina Warner’s Stranger Magic and In the House of the Interpreter by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o.

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What’s Your Favourite Book of 2012? Tell Us and Win Two Random House Books!


What’s your favourite book this year? Tell us about it in under 250 words.

We’ll compile a handful of our selections in a Litro Online feature, and our favourite entry will win two books by Random House:

The House of the Interpreter by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, and

Stranger Magic: Charmed States & the Arabian Nights by Marina Warner

…in celebration of our current Africa and upcoming Magic theme.

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‘The Sex Lives of African Girls’ by Taiye Selasi

The title of Taiye Selasi’s debut short story is as blunt as it is ironic, proclaiming bold content while quietly mocking Western anthropological theses of old. I first came upon ‘The Sex Lives of African Girls’ in Granta’s The F Word edition, and cynically wondered whether the story would fulfil its titular promise. Too often, I have been deceived by intriguingly offbeat titles that conceal an average story. As is usually the case with such casual literary assumptions, I was wrong. The sustained tension and desperate sadness of this short story, the closed, heavy atmosphere, and the eerily prescient “you” narrator are even more keenly felt in the context of the stark, detached tone of the title. Read more →

Feature Film: White Material

There’s a scene early on in Claire Denis’ tenth film in which a child soldier fingers a cheap-looking gold lighter and refers to it as "just white material". What does he mean when he says this? It’s a question that wends its way throughout Denis’ remarkable film. Set in an unnamed African country, the inimitable French actress Isabelle Huppert plays Maria, who is resolute in keeping hold of the failing coffee plantation she runs, even as her workers flee and the country around her erupts into civil war. Her decision to stay seems wilfully naive in the face of the chaos around her. A helicopter whips up blinding red dust around her as the French military retreats from the area; similarly, Maria seems blind to the dangers she faces by staying. Even more dangerous: she is harbouring a wounded rebel soldier, known as "the Boxer", even as her ex-husband André negotiates with the mayor to help his family return to France safely. Read more →

Litro #120: Africa — Letter from the Editor

How much do you know about Africa? We tend to speak of it as though it’s one giant, inscrutable territory, and yet Africa contains 54 different countries, all with different cultures, geographies, and people, amongst which are some of the world’s fastest growing economies. For many of us, the only time Africa appears on our radar is when it’s in the news—Somali Pirates, KONY 2012, Darfur, email scammers, the World Cup. Most of our references are sadly negative. Read more →

Grass Wars

The herd wakes me, hungry again and baying for grass, green and juicy. They huddle round the basher, lowing and groaning. Their rolling backsides butt up against the bent branches. Their snot-dripping snouts nose into gaps between the hide-roof and branch-walls. One snorts right over my face. Hot, stale breath clouds over me; spittle rains onto my cheeks and into my eyes. I sit up and rub my face on my robe. Next to me Shahuri continues to snore. It’s his turn to do the milking. Read more →

Harare Revisited

Harare was always a plum to me, a gorgeous memory; blue-black, full and ripe, luxurious and sweet to the tongue. I recall a veranda fringed city, snug with waiters, sunk into earth that feels hot and old. A place punctured with plentiful, crystalline pools. Impressive, near utopian. Of all the things that my unconscious cast away, its grip on Harare, that boyhood visit, never slackened. Read more →

A New Focus on Africa

It was 3:30 in the afternoon sometime in 2010 and I was just about to leave for Heathrow Terminal 5—virtually my second home—to catch a flight to Mozambique when my daughter loudly inquired, “Daddy, is everybody poor in Africa?”I decided the taxi outside could wait for at least few more minutes. “Why are you asking such a question my dear?” Her answer—“Because every time I see Africa on telly they don’t have nice clothes and their houses are really small and the children are all sad.” Read more →

Extract from Tomorrow I’ll be Twenty

I imagine her as a young girl, turning boys’ heads. Somehow she manages to forget I’m there, and imagine it’s someone different listening to her, her eyes are somewhere above my head, not focussed on me directly. She’s talking to someone who doesn’t exist, and I think: ‘That often happens, it happens all the time, grown ups are all like that, they’re always talking to people from their past. I’m still too little to have a past, that’s why I can’t talk to myself, pretending to talk to someone invisible.’ Read more →


Menengai, Alex our guide tells us, means “the place where God is not”. It is a word from the Masai, the great African tribe that traverse the land with their cattle, naming the places as they find them. Looking down into the vast green caldera, all that remains of the immense volcano, I can imagine the handsomely dressed Masai, their scarlet cloaks vivid in the foliage, and their great herds. A desultory drift of smoke catches Nick’s eye. Read more →


Seabirds haunt an area where the contents of a bucket have been tossed. I see fish-heads. Entrails. Farther along, I almost step on a dead jellyfish. Its skin is transparent. Ghostly. Reminds me of the clear plastic bags they issue at security in the airport. I can see all the wiring inside it; looks like telephone cord. Like it has a circuit board inside it.I used to think people were like that. That I could see right through into the heart of them. That I understood them. Thought that was what made me a good social worker. All it took was one misreading and everything fell apart. Read more →