BOOKNEWS One of 12 great­est books ever writ­ten

CityPress - - Voices - AVAN­TIKA SEETH avan­tika.seeth@city­press.co.za

Things Fall Apart

Things Fall Apart, the best-known work of the late Nige­rian lit­er­ary icon Chinua Achebe (pic­tured), this week made it on to a list of 12 of the “great­est books ever writ­ten” pub­lished by En­cy­clopae­dia Britannica.

Achebe’s novel joins a list of ti­tles that in­cludes Anna Karen­ina by Leo Tol­stoy, To Kill a Mock­ing­bird by Harper Lee, The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzger­ald and One Hun­dred Years of Soli­tude by Gabriel García Márquez.

Things Fall Apart, first pub­lished in 1958, has been trans­lated into 57 lan­guages and was one of the first mod­ern African nov­els to re­ceive global crit­i­cal ac­claim.

The story is based on pre­colo­nial life in Nige­ria and the ar­rival of the Euro­pean colonis­ers. The ti­tle of the book was taken from the poem The Second Com­ing by Wil­liam But­ler Yeats. The novel is widely con­sid­ered to be a mile­stone in African lit­er­a­ture and has been used as a set­work in schools across the con­ti­nent, in­clud­ing South Africa. Achebe, who was recog­nised for his out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to African lit­er­a­ture, won the Man Booker In­ter­na­tional Prize in 2007. He died in 2013.

The Wo­man Next Door

The Wo­man Next Door, pub­lished by Pen­guin Ran­dom House South Africa in 2016 was writ­ten by Ye­wande Omotoso, and is one of 10 ti­tles to be short-listed for “the world’s rich­est book prize”, the In­ter­na­tional Dublin Lit­er­ary Award. Omotoso was born in Bar­ba­dos, grew up in Nige­ria and lives in South Africa. Last year the novel was also short-listed for the Barry Ronge Fic­tion Prize and long-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fic­tion.

The win­ner of the Dublin award will be an­nounced on June 13 and is worth a whop­ping £100 000 (about R1.5 mil­lion), of­ten de­scribed as the rich­est an­nual prize for fic­tion in the world.

“The ti­tles on this year’s short list were nom­i­nated by public li­braries in Canada, Es­to­nia, Ger­many, Hun­gary, Ire­land, Italy, Mex­ico, Nor­way, South Africa, Spain, Switzer­land and the US,” said Dublin’s Lord Mayor Ardmhéara, Mícheál Mac Don­n­cha, pa­tron of the award.

The Wo­man Next Door is a com­pelling story about the com­plex­i­ties of two neigh­bours, one white and one black.

The women, re­cently wid­owed, are sworn en­e­mies and are brought to­gether by un­fore­seen cir­cum­stances.

City Press re­viewed the novel in 2016 and said of the book: “In her second novel, Ye­wande Omotoso weaves the lay­ers of the main char­ac­ters’ per­sonal nar­ra­tives through­out the story del­i­cately and de­lib­er­ately, in a way that can only be truly ap­pre­ci­ated af­ter read­ing the last page.”

Kingsmead Book Fair

The an­nual Kingsmead Book Fair will be tak­ing place on May 12 and will in­clude au­thors Ye­wande Omotoso (pic­tured) (The Wo­man Next Door), Sizwe Mpo­fuWalsh (Democ­racy & Delu­sion), Fred Khu­malo (Danc­ing the Death Drill), Jac­ques Pauw (The Pres­i­dent’s Keep­ers), Mandy Wiener (Min­istry of Crime) and An­gela Makholwa (The Blessed Girl), to name but a few.

A se­ries of en­gag­ing and stim­u­lat­ing work­shops and panel dis­cus­sions are go­ing to be held with the au­thors and there will be a wide va­ri­ety of food ven­dors to cater for the di­verse lit­er­ary food palates.

Some of the fa­cil­i­ta­tors in­clude pub­lisher and author Melinda Fer­gu­son (Crashed: How Trash­ing a Fer­rari Saved My Life), Euse­bius McKaiser (Run Racist Run: Jour­neys Into the Heart of Racism) and Sarah Jayne-King (Killing Karo­line). For more in­for­ma­tion and to book tick­ets, go to kingsmead.co.za/book­fair.

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