I started Brittle Paper 6 years ago as a sanctuary from the beautiful but backbreaking rigor of scholarly life.
I had just finished my first year as a doctoral student at Duke University. It had been a fun year. I loved writing. I loved research work. I loved learning from some the best minds in the world. I loved being immersed in a sea of texts and ideas. Receiving training to become a literary scholar had been a life-long dream, and it was deeply satisfying to actually live the dream.
But there were moments when I felt exhausted and claustrophobic. I longed for a place to breathe, to think freely—outside traditional academic spaces. I wanted to play with ideas. I needed a different kind of intellectual experience—one that was not so much about taking in knowledge but building a space for engaging a wider community of readers and thinkers. That is how Brittle Paper came into being—on August 1, 2010.
What started out as a space for one literature student’s intellectual rant has become a popular online platform for African literature. The journey has been great and so much good has come out of it. A few months ago, Brittle Paper joined The Guardian book network. In a month or so, I will launch a book-publishing arm with the release of Holy Sex by Obinna Udenwe. Between reviews by well-known critics in the African literary community and exclusive interviews conducted with shortlistees, Brittle Paper provided a vibrant space for conversations and debates about the 2016 Caine Prize for African Writing. From media coverage of literary events to book reviews that inspire readers, Brittle Paper chronicles the activities, debates, and publications that attract a global community of readers to African literature.
Apart from recording these milestones, this year is special for another reason. As many of you know, I completed by doctoral studies a few months ago. If you’ve been a fan of the blog long enough, you’d have heard me talk about the joys and pains of writing a doctoral thesis. Some of you have sent me encouraging messages over the years. My conversations with you have helped me work through difficult moments in my writing. I want to take this opportunity to dedicate my PhD to the Brittle Paper community. I hope you feel a shared sense of achievement with me because, in some sense, we did it together.
Brittle Paper began 6 years ago because of my need for creative freedom, but it has since grown into something so much bigger than myself. Today, it is the community of readers that sustain it. Dear Brittlers, you all are the best kind of readers anyone could ever dream of, and, for that, I thank you. I could burn the midnight oil all I wanted, but if you did not share my belief in the idea of African literature and the urgency of changing how it is perceived globally, Brittle Paper would not be here today. So thank you for being the engaging, vibrant, and generous community that you are. To everyone who has visited Brittle Paper, read a post, liked a post, shared a post, left a comment, subscribed to the blog, recommended it to a friend, I say thank you.
To all the writers published on Brittle Paper, I say thank you. It is endlessly generous of you to share your work with our readers. With hard work and persistence, each and every one of you will go on to do great things.
Thanks to everyone in the African literary community for their support—fellow bloggers, critics, colleagues, publishers, writers, fellow scholars, mentors, and everyone contributing towards the global expansion of African literature.
I want to say a big thank you to Tiwalade Adekunle. As you may have noticed, I haven’t been the only one doing the blogging around here. Tiwalade joined the Brittle Paper team about two months ago. She is a creative writer and a student of International Studies and English at the University of Kentucky. It has been great having her on board as part of the editorial team. She is hardworking, brilliant, and sharp—everything I adore in an A+ blogger!
The joy I receive from knowing that I am contributing my bit towards reinventing African literature within the digital and social media space is unbounded. I hope you will continue to share in this joy by letting Brittle Paper enrich your experience of African writing and literary culture.
Happy 6th year anniversary to all the Brittlers out there!