US-based, African-founded independent publishing house Iskanchi Press has announced its very first lineup of literary works scheduled for publication. The list of three books is remarkably diverse, featuring works in three different languages and covers areas of African literature that have been neglected in the anglophone world. Two are English editions of previously published novels, while one is an original work.
Barzakh: The Land In-Between is the first English translation of the lauded novel by Moussa Ould Ebnou, a prominent Mauritanian novelist. The book is translated from French by Marybeth Timmermann and will be published in October 2022. Next in line for release is Angola is Wherever I Plant My Field by João Melo. This is the first English translation Melo’s short story collection and is set for publication November 2022. The cover design for the collection features the artwork titled The Chaos of the World by renowned Angolan artist António Ole. These two publications are important works, given how little of Mauritanian and Angolan fiction are available to English readers.
The final publication is Believers and Hustlers by the Nigerian author Sylva Nze Ifedigbo. The novel is set in Lagos and tells the story of a journalist investigating misdeeds in a megachurch.
Congrats to all the authors and Iskanchi press for such a brilliant debut catalog.
See below for books synopsis and covers. You can buy the books and learn more about the press here.
Barzakh: The Land In-Between
The story starts in the distant future with members of the Institute for the Archeology of Human Thought studying the land of Barzakh in the Sahara. They unearth the bones of Gara whose Myelin will unravel the secrets of his ancient consciousness. A foreigner in his own land, the enslaved Gara has traveled through time in search of a better humanity, inadvertently sowing the seeds of his own destruction. The story is tangled up in three eras as Gara travels through time in search of a better humanity. Barzakh “forces us to confront the question of what happens to the narratives of knowledge and truth once they are cast in a literary mold.”
Angola is Wherever I Plant My Field
In this collection of eighteen humorous, absurdist stories, Melo weaves together postmodernism, postcolonial realities, and Angolan history, through an intrusive narrator and authorial intervention. Angola is Wherever I Plant My Field will make the readers laugh as they reflect on life and society through stories set in Luanda, Haifa, America, and North-Korea.
Believers and Hustlers
Ifenna, a young journalist, takes the job of reporting on a popular megachurch in Lagos but veers off-script to investigate the death of a priest during the construction of the church. The article offends the young and powerful Pastor Nicholas who runs the church and Ifenna gets fired from his job. Down and out of luck, Ifenna becomes a blogger to expose the corruption and hypocrisy of the men of God and his path crosses with Pastor Nicholas’ wife, Nkechi, who is investigating her husband’s misdeeds.