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Ainehi Edoro, Assistant Professor of Global Anglophone Literatures at Marquette University, who founded Brittle Paper in 2010, celebrated her birthday on December 11. Photo credit: Kumolu Studios.

One evening in mid-2010, in her apartment in Chicago, Ainehi Edoro, then a PhD student at Duke University, looked up at her husband and mentioned that she was starting a blog. On August 1 of that year, she made her first post, a 264-word reflection on reading and coffee in a cafe. “Now think of a poem where flash media meets sound art to create poetic imagery so alive that the ‘reader’ can almost touch it,” she writes later that month. “Think of a novel or an anti-novel where the lost craft of the storyteller—oral narration—is fused with state of the art gaming and graphic design technology.” The literature she saw lived beyond the page, in technology.

There’s something tasking about responsibility, the recognition that something isn’t right and that you could change that, could lay the foundation for something truly beautiful, something to blossom and become bigger than you. By the time she began her blog in 2010, there was such a gap in African literature: its discussion was too formal, not too online, too elitist, not too trendy, not too fun for outsiders. The conversations around it were left to academics, consigned to academic journals and magazines and academic conferences. If she must plug the hole then her blog needed to be more than a platform for publishing writers, finding new writers, more than a site for literary news. Her blog needed to do these and more: create a 12-decade, multi-genre guide to African novels; blog Imbolo Mbue’s afro; publicize-cum-curate social media conversations that would have ended only in corners; blog Alain Mabanckou’s suits; create insistent buzz about initiatives that might possibly go unnoticed; blog Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s shoes; blog Petina Gappah’s singing—make the art and business of writing sexy.

Seven years on, and 2,082 posts later, and now assistant professor of global Anglophone literatures at Marquette University, her blog remains a centre of literature on the continent, with a remarkable non-African following as well: This year, it reached 10,000 and 11,000 Twitter followers. Her blog has elevated new voices and genres that otherwise might not have gotten a platform—speculative and fantasy literature, literature about queerness. It has reinvented African Literature as something fashionable and followable, Tweetable and Instagramable—taught us that writers’ fashion choices and hairstyles are as worthy of interest as their books, can make us to buy their books. In this, it has made celebrities out of writers whose work we might not have known sooner, whose works are offered in style beyond the page, spotting them before the rest of the world caught up, offering that the future of literature in Africa, the necessity that is its extraliterary relevance, lies not only in its adaptability to both technology and pop culture but in how those two spheres can be harnessed to build a community still rooted in literature. She might refer to herself as “the Linda Ikeji of African Literature,” but what she has built is a Bella Naija-meets-Literary Hub Olympics where the grand and the quotidian interact, an eclectic culture with no precedent but with, as far as intellectual things go, unimpeachable street cred.

In 2014, Publishers Weekly named Brittle Paper a go-to book blog. In 2016, New African named Ainehi among “The 100 Most Influential Africans.” Enter 2017: a year in which her blog launched the first literary awards in Africa to be sponsored by a publication, highlighting 48 remarkable works in what she deems a “thank-you gesture”; a year in which writers she published or covered have cleared major literary prizes on the continent and beyond: won the Brunel Prize, the Etisalat Prize, the Commonwealth Prize, two Miles Morland Scholarships; nominated for the LAMBDA Literary Awards, the Caine Prize, the Short Story Day Africa Prize, the Nommo Awards, the Gerald Kraak Award, the Writivism Prize. It is a dynasty that she has founded, and entirely on her resources.

Before Ainehi Edoro, we didn’t think someone could care this much about writers known and upcoming, in public and in private: it is a generosity that puzzles, her tireless advocacy for the literary visions on the continent. Yesterday, December 11, was her birthday. Please join Brittle Paper in wishing her renewed energy and enthusiasm. And love and happiness and fulfillment and the wildest of successes. Happy birthday to the coolest, baddest editor in the game.

Intellectual Mode.

PhD Convocation Mode.

Sports Mode.

Holidays Mode.

All-out Badass Mode.

Hubby Mode.

Slay Mode.

Fashionista Mode.

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

9 Responses to “Photos | Happy Birthday to Ainehi Edoro, Founder and Editor of Brittle Paper” Subscribe

  1. Catherine Onyemelukwe 2017/12/12 at 15:44 #

    A very happy belated birthday wish to Ainehi. I love reading her blog. I quote her often in my own blog with links to her stories. Thank you, Ainehi, for being such a wonderful spokeswoman for African literature.

  2. Anthony Azekwoh 2017/12/12 at 16:25 #

    Happy belated birthday! Thank you very much for being an inspiration to young writers all over the continent and beyond.

  3. Brittle Paper Fan 2017/12/13 at 01:55 #

    Happy Birthday, Ainehi. Thank you so very much for creating this wonderful space. May your favourite dreams come true.

  4. samuel dzombo 2017/12/13 at 05:02 #

    all the best Ainehi Edoro

  5. Hannah 2017/12/13 at 05:08 #

    Happy birthday, Ainehi! Many more years of joy and inspiration to you.

  6. Selali 2017/12/13 at 21:36 #

    I started reading your blog seven years ago…I contributed at your request. I’m proud of it…here’s to 7 additional years and much much more!

  7. Obaji-Nwali Shegun 2017/12/16 at 06:25 #

    You created a world that expanded to twice the whole of the earth. big kudos. and happy birthday. but i think Brittle Paper has become part of too many persons,grown to that point where it deserved to appear in printed forms- and it would be a lucrative market and upscale business.

  8. Abuchi Aniekwe 2017/12/18 at 13:12 #

    Happy birthday to Ainehi, a paragon of ladies. Wish you all the best as you do what you know how to do best. More flamboyant feathers to your wings.

  9. Success Akpojotor 2017/12/19 at 14:56 #

    Writers in Africa] shall some day be heeded, when everybody will think it was always so, that all the privileges which [writers in Africa] now and will possess always were [hers]. They have no idea of how every single inch of ground that [she] stands upon today has been gained from the hard work of some little handful of beautiful souls like Ainehi et al. Happy belated birthday.

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