2020 is coming to a close, and what a year it has been! We at Brittle Paper would like to thank all our readers for your unwavering support throughout a year that, as eventful as it has been, was nonetheless filled once again with fabulous achievements by African and African diasporic authors and literary figures that we’ve been proud to document.
Our Notable African Books of 2020 list captures some of these achievements, and in a year during which many author tours and in-person events had to be canceled, we’re delighted to see the African literary community find workarounds through the use of digital tools. Our Brittle Paper Persons of the Year awards was launched this year expressly to recognize the creativity and dedication of several individuals and platforms in using such tools to continue helping audiences across the world connect with authors and their books in spite of the pandemic, and to honor the work that they do to develop the infrastructures vital for a thriving African literary ecosystem. Congratulations once again to Zukiswa Wanner (African Literary Person of the Year), Mona Eltahawy (Writer-Activist of the Year), Ato Quayson (Academic of the Year), Sarah Ozo-Irabor (Social Media Influencer of the Year), and the teams behind Doek! (Literary Platform of the Year) and Huza Press (Publishing House of the Year).
2020 was also the year that we introduced the #WeTurnToBooks Instagram Live series, in which we discussed what books meant in times of crisis. But 2020, above all, was the year that we turned ten! To mark the occasion, we launched The Decade Project — an almost-two-month long virtual festival of ideas during which we published a collection of specially curated content that reflected on the growth of the African literary scene since 2010 (when we were born) and its future. We were delighted to bring you essays by and interviews with Ben Okri, Taiye Selasi, Minna Salami, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Kalaf Epalanga, and many other notable figures, alongside profiles of literary platforms and publishing houses. All this in addition to collaborations with Kiru Taye, for a revival of “Thighs Fell Apart” (her hit fan-fiction erotica series based on Things Fall Apart), Ozoz Sokoh, for an #EatTheBook series featuring recipes based on food in particular books, and Wole Talabi, for the publication of the first-ever anthology to focus solely on the concept of Africanfuturism (not Afrofuturism!). And on top of that (as you will have noticed), we relaunched our website!
In her reflections on the past ten years of the African literary scene, our editor-in-chief Ainehi Edoro observes that “we have built a literary world about which [our literary ancestors] dreamed but may not have imagined to be possible.” Moving into 2021 and the decades beyond, we look forward to playing our part, among the many others who are doing so, in continuing to build this literary world that will one day in turn be exceeded by our literary “descendants.”
We will be taking a break from December 23, 2020 to January 3, 2021; we’ll be back with the freshest and most exciting African literary news and more on January 4. A Merry Christmas to all those who are celebrating, and a Happy New Year to all our readers – see you in 2021!