Africa's Lit: African books and literature from Exclusive Books
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Volume 1, Issue 1


'The Woman Next Door'

Editor's Note

 “her soul is fierce
  her heart is brave
  her mind is strong”
– r.h. Sin


I'm Nondumiso Tshabangu, a journalist-turned book nerd and African literature enthusiast. I have always had a rather obsessive love for all things Africa and the importance of reading about the realities that television never shows Africa to be.

I would like to welcome you to the first issue of Africa's Lit, the newsletter on African books and letters from Exclusive Books. This would have not been possible without the collaboration of my colleagues on the EB marketing team, and the inspirational consultants from Kajeno Media. Thank you for helping get Africa's Lit off the ground.

This issue is themed 'The Woman Next Door', inspired by Yewande Omotoso's new novel of the same name. The woman next door can, of course, be virtually anyone. In this issue we feature a candid interview with Omotoso, who also gives us three books of Africa that you need to have on your bookshelf (see #unstealable, below). We then turn to the lawyer next door - that is, if you happen to live in Geneva, Switzerland - as I review Petina Gappah's new novel, The Book of Memory.

In #linklove we have the 200th anniversary of the Zulu Nation in Durban - where my great grandfather makes an appearance on a grand international stage (Mtungwa!) - and don't miss our #literaryhotticket pick and #thisislit book club focus below.

Yours in African lit



Johannesburg-based Yewande Omotoso, author of The Woman Next Door, provides the inspiration for issue 1 of Africa's Lit. She's this month's #litrockstar.

Yewande Omotoso was born in Barbados and grew up in Nigeria, moving to South Africa with her family in 1992. Her first novel was Bom Boy, published in South Africa in 2011. In 2012 she won the South African Literary Award for First-Time Published Author and was shortlisted for the South African Sunday Times Fiction Prize. In 2013 she was a finalist in the inaugural pan-African Etisalat Fiction Prize. She lives in Johannesburg, where she writes and has her own architectural practice. The Woman Next Door was published in 2016.

Video interview

Watch our #litrockstar in action, talking about her latest work.

Related review

Petina Gappah: the Zimbabwean author-lawyer next door (if you live in Geneva, Switzerland, where she practices law)

Star Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

The Book of Memory
Petina Gappah
Faber & Faber, September 2015
Online Price: R302.00

The Book of Memory is the second work of fiction by Petina Gappah, a work that underscores why she won the Guardian First Book Award for her first, the short story collection An Elegy for Easterly. This lawyer-turned-author is not a one-hit-wonder and will remain a bright spot within the African fiction spectrum for many years to come.

“Even the big mansions hold their secret miseries. They hold more of them because there is more room for them.”


Must-see African lit - mark it down in your calendars!
The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA), within UKZN's College of Humanities, will host the 20th Poetry Africa International Festival from 10 to 15 October.

Approximately 20 poets from South Africa, Africa and different parts of the world will feature in this year's week-long edition. This year's programme will include a variety of performances, seminars and, most importantly, an archival exhibition of the past 19 years since the festival was launched.
The festival will also pay homage to South Africa's first National Poet Laureate and one of the symbols of isiZulu poetry, the late Professor Mazisi Kunene. Kunene is best known for his poem, Emperor Shaka the Great.

#linklove - Africa links that caught our eye

The Zulu Nation's 200th Anniversary Celebration in
20 Powerful Images

A Short History of Zaka the Zulu by Petina Gappah in the New Yorker

#unstealable - curated by Yewande Omotoso
un - STEAL - a - ble
Books of Africa that you need to own and must never lend out.

We help you build your African literature home library, starting with these classics. This issue features picks from our #litrockstar Yewande Omotoso.

Yewande recommends:
The Joys of Motherhood
Buchi Emecheta
Woman at Point Zero
Nawal El Saadawi
So Long A Letter
Mariama Ba

#thisislit - the Afro-Freedom Book Club

Named after its host venue, The Afrikan Freedom Station - one of Jozi’s most exciting cultural and live music venues - The Afro-Freedom Book Club is a Pan African club made up of an interesting mix of people spanning different generations and careers.

We all know how difficult it is to make time to gather, that’s why many book clubs fizzle out after a few meetings. Somehow, this diverse book club has stood the test of time. It’s an important escape for many of the busy members - time to connect over drinks in a beautiful setting to discuss the book of the month, which is always written by an African author. Here are snaps from the latest gathering of the club.

The next meet-up is on 26 October. To join the mailing list and/or for more information please feel free to contact Lungile Zakwe on, and click here to find the club on Facebook.



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