The Stoop is a podcast that seeks out interesting but often un-publicized stories. It is hosted by Sudanese-American journalist Hana Baba and fellow San Francisco-based journalist Leila Day. For its Episode 15, titled “The African Writer’s Dilemma,” it invited Nigerian novelist Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Zambian writer Namwali Serpell, and Motswana writer and speaker Siyanda Mohutsiwa to discuss African books in white markets.
It is an enlightening conversation that touches on book covers, stereotypes in marketing African books, the problem of asking African writers about their intended audience, the small space carved out for black women even in literary podcasting, and the fresh ideas of Cassava Republic, “the BET of publishing.” They also discuss literary prizes, particularly the colonially tinged Caine Prize events, which are held in London because, as Serpell is informed on a panel, “that’s where the money is.”
Sarah Ladipo Manyika—recently the subject of a personal essay by the Zimbabwean novelist Tendai Huchu—is the author of the novels In Dependence (2008) and Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun (2016). The former, following its inclusion in the syllabus for Nigeria’s secondary school certificate examinations, and ensured by its publishers Cassava Republic’s piracy-beating tactics, has sold more than 1.7 millions copies in the country, as at November of last year. The latter became the first African novel to be shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize.
Namwali Serpell‘s first published story, “Muzungu,” was selected for The Best American Short Stories 2009 and shortlisted for the 2010 Caine Prize for African Writing. Her story, “The Sack,” won the 2015 Caine Prize. In 2011, she received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. In 2014, she was chosen as one of the Africa 39. Her first novel, The Old Drift, is forthcoming with Hogarth Press (Penguin Random House) in 2018. An associate professor of English at UC Berkeley, her first book of literary criticism, Seven Modes of Uncertainty, was published in 2014 by Harvard University Press.
Siyanda Mohutsiwa is a Motswana writer and speaker best known for launching the viral 2015 Twitter hashtag #IfAfricaWasABar, and for her TED Talks: “Is Africa’s Future Online?” (2015) and “How Young Africans Found a Voice on Twitter” (2016). A 2016 essay she published on OkayAfrica, titled “I’m Done with African Immigrant Literature,” caused some controversy in literary circles.
Listen to the conversation HERE.