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Last May, we brought news of Huza Press’ new hybrid books imprint RadioBook Rwanda, a collaborative project with Kenya’s Kwani? and UK’s No Bindings funded by the British Council. Hybrid books, hailed as a new approach to form and community publishing, are multi-media literary publications that integrate text, pictures, and sound. Artists and short story writers work together to create an artfully designed book that is also produced as a podcast. RadioBook Rwanda’s hybrid books, by three selected writers, are now here, in pocketbook editions with audio books, and have been launched in Bristol, Nairobi, and Kigali.

“They are not traditional and they are very small and artistically bound,” explained Lucky Grace Isingizwe, Huza Press’ social media manager, via email. “They have artwork in them, and due [to] the stories they contain, we created a bit of a universe around them. So the books have a large portion of their core in the audio books and the podcasts we made after them.” She continued: readers would now “get to hear more stories about Rwanda and Rwandans. In the podcasts we also have conversations with Rwandans who share their real life stories.”

Each hybrid book is inspired by a short story, published both in Kinyarwanda and English, two audio books of the stories in each language, an artwork, and a podcast. The story and the artwork are published in the pocketbook editions of the project. Here are descriptions of the hybrid books.

The Red Radiobook 

Explores the theme, “Relationships”: inspired by the Rwandan writer Eric Mutsinzi’s “Waiting for Words” (“Ayari Yarabuze Ivuga” in Kinyarwanda), with art by the Kenyan artist Nduta Kariuki. The sound production of the project is accessible online for free.

The artwork: Nduta’s portraits depict images, faces of persons looking at you, feeling familiar and full of story.

The story: “Waiting for Words” captures a moment in time and space, and explores the tension between Keza and Gasana, a couple struggling to conceive and struggling to communicate.

Podcast description: In this episode, Lucky Grace and Eloise explore the universe of “Waiting For Words.” Eloise chats to Eric, Beverly chats to Nduta Kariuki who provided the artwork for the book, and we also hear from Dativa and Matthew, a Rwandan married couple who share how they work through disagreements in their own relationship.

The Blue Radiobook

Explores the theme, “Resistance”: inspired by the Rwandan writer Annick La Reine Shimwa’s “The Sykes Are Woke” (“Intaganzwa Ziri Maso” in Kinyarwanda), with art by the Kenyan artist Jess Atieno.

The artwork: Jess’ collage works depict scenes of marches and demonstrations, and place women’s bodies at their centre.

The story: “The Sykes Are Woke” is an African-futurist origin story set in an alternate reality. It is a tale of Shama and how she came to be a respected leader of a young and highly skilled army.

Podcast description: In this podcast, Lucky Grace and Eloise explore the universe of “The Sykes Are Woke.” Eloise chats to Annick in Mauritius, Beverly chats to Jess Atieno who provided the artwork for the book, and Hyppolite talks to his mother Bernadette, about becoming the chief of her village after The Genocide.

The Green Radiobook

Explores the theme, “Modern Myths”: inspired by the Rwandan writer Jimmy Tuyiringire’s “The Thunder Hunter” (“Umuhigi w’Inkuba” in Kinyarwanda), with art by the Kigali-based group Souls: Shingiro Ntigurirwa, Dukuzumuremyi Hamza, and Salma Seif.

The artwork: Soul’s murals decorate an alleyway in Kigali and depict three larger-than-life characters.

The story: “The Thunder Hunter” follows Karemera as he tries to teach his Western friend Deon about his family and his nation’s myths and traditional figures while seeking to uncover his own role in the Thunder Hunter’s story.

Podcast description: In this episode, Lucky Grace and Eloise explore the universe of “The Thunder Hunter.” Eloise chats to Jimmy, who then takes her and Lucky Grace to Musanze to meet his grandmothers. They tell them all they know about fighting thunder as well as a few imigani—folk tales. In Kigali, Souls, who provided the artwork for the book, take Eloise and Lucky Grace to see their street murals.

Brittle Paper congratulates RadioBook Rwanda and Huza Press.

Get the hybrid books HERE

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. 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.

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