Tuesday July 3, 2012: Breaking Borders with Dinaw Mengestu & José Eduardo Agualusa

AFRICAN WRITERS’ EVENING (Conversation Series) featuring Dinaw Mengestu & José Eduardo Agualusa
Thursday 3 July 2012, 6.30pm
Level 5 Function Room, Royal Festival Hall,
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road,
London SE1 8XX
8.00 / 4.00 (conc/limted) [ BUY HERE ]

Since the emergence of African narratives in print, from anthologies such as the Langston Hughes-edited An African Treasury, to the Chinua Achebe-curated African Writer’s Series, writers from Africa have generally been held by editors and publishers to, in an almost anthropological sense, write only about the countries from which they come, ‘write what they are’. But Africa is a continent whose history of nomadism marks the genetic map of the world, with borders more porous than wind; is this approach actually impoverishing the world of readers and ideas? In a combination of readings and discussion, author-journalists, José Eduardo Agualusa (Angola) and Dinaw Mengestu (Ethiopia) explore the limitations of borders. Moderated by writer and social commentator, Nii Ayikwei Parkes (Ghana).




Dinaw Mengestu and Jose Eduardo AgualusaJosé Eduardo Agualusa was born in Huambo, Angola in 1960 and is one of the leading literary voices in the Portuguese language today. Author of several novels, in which history melds with invention and exquisite prose, his most famous books in English are: Creole, which was awarded the Portuguese Grand Prize for Literature and The Book of Chameleons, which won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2007. José Eduardo has done journalism on the African community in Lisbon as well as on African music and poetry. His most recent books in English are My Father’s Wives, a novel of music, magic and secrets, that travels from Angola, through Namibia and South Africa to Mozambique, and Rainy Season (2009). José Eduardo divides his time between Angola, Brazil and Portugal.


Winner of The Guardian First Book Award in the UK and the Prix Femina Étranger in France for his début novel, Children of the Revolution, Dinaw Mengestu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1978 and immigrated to the United States with his mother and sister in 1980. His other accolades include a 2006 fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Lannan Fiction Fellowship in 2007 and selection for The New Yorker’s 2010 list of 20 writers under 40. Dinaw has written non-fiction for many publications including Harper’s, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone and Jane magazine, where he profiled a young woman who was kidnapped and forced to become a soldier in the brutal war in northern Uganda. His second novel, How to Read the Air, was released in 2010.



Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a writer, editor, socio-cultural commentator, broadcaster and performance poet. A 2007 recipient of Ghana’s national ACRAG award for poetry and literary advocacy, he is the author of the acclaimed hybrid literary novel, Tail of the Blue Bird (Random House), which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize and translated into Dutch and German. As an editor, Nii Ayikwei has helped flipped eye publishing become one of the most respected small presses in the UK, with several authors who have been shortlisted for, and won major awards. In 2011 he received a grant from the James Irvine Foundation for a series of talks in California and became a member of the panel of judges for the Commonwealth Prize. Nii’s Ballast sequence of poems, described in the Guardian as, “An astonishing, powerful remix of history and language” forms part of his latest collection, The Makings of You (Peepal Tree Press).

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