Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Granta Book of the African Story: Helon Habira

The Granta Book of the African Short Story introduces a group of African writers described by its editor, Helon Habila, as ‘the post-nationalist generation’. Presenting a diverse and dazzling collection from all over the continent - from Morocco to Zimbabwe, Uganda to Kenya - Habila has focused on younger, newer writers, interspersed with some of their older, more established peers, to give a fascinating picture of a new and more liberated Africa. Disdaining the narrowly nationalist and political preoccupations of previous generations, these writers are characterized by their engagement with the wider world and the opportunities offered by the internet, the end of apartheid, the end of civil wars and dictatorships, and the possibilities of free movement around the world. Many of them live outside Africa. Their work is inspired by travel and exile. They are liberated, global and expansive. As Dambudzo Marechera wrote: "If you write for a particular nation, or tribe, then f*** you." These are the stories of a new Africa, punchy, self-confident and defiant. Includes stories by: Rachida El Charni; Henrietta Rose-Innes; George Makana Clarke; Ivan Vladislavik; Mansoura Ez Eldin; Fatou Diome; Aminatta Forna; Manuel Rui; Patrice Nganang; Leila Aboulela; Zoe Wicombe; Ala Al-Aswany; Doreen Baingana; EC Osonduq.

This book presented a unique opportunity for me to read stories from no less than thirteen additional countries to those which I have already read, and to to me, was a must, quite apart from the quality of the writing itself. The book contains twenty nine stories from right across the continent, from Morocco in the north, to South Africa in the south, all of which give unique insights into the issues facing modern Africans today - from tales of arranged marriages, to life in the slums, to European racism.

The stories, which are arraged in order of the writers own age provide an enteraining yet insightful read into the lives of African men and women from all four corners of the continent and the issuees that they face. The characters and the writing styles are each different, but remain well balanced. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested to know more.

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