Over the course of Brittle Paper‘s #WeTurnToBooks series, we’ve had eye-opening conversations on Instagram Live with hugely popular novelists like Nnedi Okorafor and Kiru Taye, literary scholars like Jeanne Marie Jackson-Awotwi and Ato Quayson, genre-crossing writers like Mukoma wa Ngũgĩ and Chibundu Onuzo, as well as masters of the short story form like E.C. Osondu and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim. In wrapping up the second installment of the series, we were honored to have a conversation with a similarly prominent individual in the African literary scene: Ayesha Harruna Attah.
Attah is the author of Harmattan Rain (Per Ankh Publishers), which was nominated for the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize; Saturday’s Shadows (World Editions), which was shortlisted for the Kwani? Manuscript project in 2013; and The Hundred Wells of Salaga (Cassava Republic Press, UK; Other Press, US). Educated at Mount Holyoke College, Columbia University, and NYU, Ayesha has degrees in Biochemistry, Journalism, and Creative Writing. She was also a 2015 Africa Center Artists in Residency Award Laureate and Sacatar Fellow, as well as a recipient of the 2016 Miles Morland Foundation Scholarship for non-fiction.
Our conversation with Attah centered on her forthcoming young adult novel, The Deep Blue Between (Pushkin Children’s). The novel will be released in October 2020 and, like her previous novels, can be classified as historical fiction. Naturally, the conversation revolved around the craft of writing historical fiction and the significance of doing so from a feminine perspective. But beyond that, Attah reminded us of the need to continue telling our histories and stories in the way we want them to be told, especially in light of the continuing injustice against Black individuals and communities in the United States and across the world.
We learnt during the conversation that Attah is working on a novel that is a romantic comedy of sorts — a move away from the works which made her name, to be sure, but a move which we’re certain will offer a joyous counterpoint to today’s troubles and which seems to us a solid answer as to why, after all, #WeTurnToBooks!
If you missed the live chat, watch the videos below (the conversation is in two parts). Thank you, Ayesha, for a lovely, important conversation. We wish you all the best for The Deep Blue Between and future endeavors!
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Ayesha Harruna Attah is the author of four novels: HARMATTAN RAIN (Per Ankh Publishers), nominated for the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize; SATURDAY’S SHADOWS (World Editions), shortlisted for the Kwani? Manuscript project in 2013; THE HINDRED WELLS OF SALAGA (Cassava Republic Press, UK; Other Press, US); and a forthcoming young adult novel, THE DEEP BLUE BETWEEN (Pushkin Children’s). Educated at Mount Holyoke College, Columbia University, and NYU, Ayesha has degrees in Biochemistry, Journalism, and Creative Writing. A 2015 Africa Centre Artists in Residency Award Laureate and Sacatar Fellow, Attah is the recipient of the 2016 Miles Morland Foundation Scholarship for non-fiction. Attah currently lives in Senegal and loves cooking, green tea ice cream, and staring at the ocean.
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