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New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara

Wole Soyinka (Preface by), Ellah Wakatama Allfrey (Editor)


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In 2014, UNESCO's World Book Capital is Port Harcourt, Nigeria-the first city in Africa to receive the designation by public bid.

This makes it a special year for the Port Harcourt Book Festival, which will be in its seventh year, and bigger than ever. They are joining forces with the internationally renowned Hay Festival, which will bring to Port Harcourt its 39 Project-a competition to identify the thirty-nine most promising young talents under the age of forty in sub-Saharan Africa and the diaspora. It follows the success of Bogota 39 in 2007 and Beirut 39 in 2010. Both recognized a number of authors who now have international profiles: in Bogota, Adriana Lisboa, Alejandro Zambra, Juan Gabriel Vasquez, Daniel Alarcon, and Junot Diaz; in Beirut, Randa Jarrar, Joumana Haddad, Abdellah Taia, Samar Yazbek, and Faiza Guene. In Nigeria this year, the esteemed judges include leading-edge publisher Margaret Busby; novelist and playwright Elechi Amadi, writer and scholar Osonye Tess Onwueme, and Caine Prize winner Binyavanga Wainaina.

For the second time, Bloomsbury is honored to be a part of the festivities, publishing worldwide Africa39-a collection of brand new work from these talented thirty-nine.

With an introduction by Wole Soyinka, Africa39 is a must-read for anyone curious about Africa today and Africa tomorrow, as envisioned through the eyes of its brightest literary stars.

Praise For Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara

“This collection was a really necessary undertaking . . . There’s a kind of renaissance taking place, it seems, among young Arab writers . . .We need their voices more than ever.” —Dave Eggers, Salon, “Favorite Book of the Year 2010” on Beirut39

“Timely and worthwhile . . . Brimming with exuberance and sparkling with innovation.” —The Guardian on Beirut39

“It is a gift to the world that these brave authors have written pieces which both educate and entertain, shedding insight into lives lived beyond the news headlines, and blazing with the idealistic spirit and passion of youth.” —The Independent on Beirut39

"Fascinating . . . Involving and diverse . . . Anyone working on their to-read list will find plenty of ideas." —Publishers Weekly on Beirut39

Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 9781620407790, 361pp.

Publication Date: October 28, 2014

About the Author

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey is the former deputy editor of Granta, and a freelance editor and critic. She was the chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2014. Wole Soyinka, born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, is one of Africa's most important writers. Best known for his plays, including Death and the King's Horseman, he is also acclaimed for his poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, including the classic memoir Ake The Years of Childhood. He was an important activist in Nigeria's fight for independence, and was the first writer from Africa to win the Nobel Prize in 1986. He is Professor in Residence at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.