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A new anthology features “short stories inspired by hair.” Edited by Joanne Hichens and Karina M. Szczurek, HAIR: Weaving & Unpicking Stories of Identity is forthcoming from Tattoo Press in September 2019.

Contributors include the novelist Fred Khumalo, Etisalat Prize 2015 winner Songeziwe Mahlangu, Caine Prize 2007 winner Mary Watson, Short Story Day Africa prize 2014 winner Diane Awerbuck, the Caine Prize 2016 finalist Bongani Kona, the Brittle Paper Award 2018 finalist Mapule Mohulatsi, Alex Latimer, Kholofelo Maenetsha, Tumelo Buthelezi, Craig Higginson, Mishka Hoosen, Bobby Jordan, Shubnum Khan, Palesa Morudu, Tiffany Kagure Mugo, Sally-Ann Murray, Sue Nyathi, Alex Smith, Melissa A. Volker, Lester Walbrugh, and Michael Yee.

Here is a description from Karina Magdalena:

HAIR: Weaving & Unpicking Stories of Identity is a collection of short stories inspired by hair. Like skin, hair is a body feature with a complex and controversial history, and is constantly under scrutiny in the media, specifically with regard to identity. HAIR: Weaving and Unpicking Stories of Identity features short stories by contemporary established and emerging South African writers of diverse backgrounds writing about hair and its intimate, personal as well as socio-political meaning. The book includes illustrative photographs by local visual artists. We hope that the stories will entertain, delight and challenge the reader.

The photographs are by Kirsten Arendse, Saaleha Idrees Bamjee, Nina Bekink, Noncedo Charmaine, Keran Elah, Michael Tymbios, Jasmin Valcarcel, Megan Voysey, Retha Ferguson, Sue Greeff, Liesl Jobson, Simangele Kalisa, Andy Mkosi, Manyatsa Monyamane, Nick Mulgrew, Aniek Nieuwenhuis, Chris Snelling, Karina M. Szczurek, Lebogang Tlhako, and Karina Turok.

“Dreadlocks, perms, afros, wigs and braids; hair is an extension of our ever-changing selves,” Efemia Chela writes in her blurb. “In this startling new collection of masterful African stories juxtaposed with vivid modern photography, we see hair woven firmly into lives like generational pain in families. Or watch it blossoming into grand filaments of pride and reservoirs of power. Ranging from the fantastical to the mundane, the surly and mysterious to the jovial and witty, reading the stories in Hair will make yours stand on end.”

“The title is appropriately deceptive,” Palesa Morudu writes in the Foreword. “The reader goes into the stories expecting, and hoping, to engage with the politics and the business of hair. And the anthology brings all that successfully to the fore, but offers much more. Although the common narrative is about the politics of hair, what you will mostly find in these pages are stories about life and/or death, with hair in all its physical manifestations as a recurring motif.”

HAIR: Weaving & Unpicking Stories of Identity will be launched at the 2019 Open Book Festival on 7 September at the Fugard Studio, 20.00-21.00.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young 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 attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he got an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies and English & Literary Studies. He 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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