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Petina Gappah. Photo credit: Cynthia R. Matonhodze for The New York Times.

In 2016, Petina Gappah reached a deal with her UK publisher Faber & Faber to make her books, the story collection Rotten Row and the novel The Book of Memory, available in Zimbabwe—in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo, Mutare, and Victoria Falls—at half the typical price. It was an extension of artistic responsibility and commitment, not to mention financial risk, that was cited in Brittle Paper‘s naming of her as the African Literary Person of the Year 2016. Gappah herself thought of it as an experiment that might hopefully become the springboard for a sustainable book distribution model.

This ethical investment may be why, this year, Gappah is calling out a Harare-based bookshop, Innov8, for overpricing her new novel Out of Darkness, Shining Light. She made a post on Twitter asking readers to not buy the novel at Innov8’s $50 price and to wait for a $20 arrangement with her UK publisher once the book is out there in February.

“I take great exception to this pricing because my books are not subject to the 40% book tax that I have been fighting against,” she wrote. “They are covered by Zim’s EU tariff, so there is no duty to pay. There is no justification for selling it in Zim at almost 3 times the normal price.”

See her tweets below.

Innov8 director Milton Kamwendo replied:

Follow the conversation on Gappah’s Twitter.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he sits on the judging panels of The Miles Morland Writing Scholarships and of The Gerald Kraak Prize. He is Nonfiction 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 Curator at 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 work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. 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 has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. 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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  1. Out of Darkness, Petina Gappah's New Book Shines to The NAACP Image Awards • #ENTHUSE MAG - January 16, 2020

    […] a deal with Faber & Faber to make her books available in Zimbabwe at half the typical price. As Brittle Paper noted, it was an extension of artistic responsibility and […]

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