In her new book, Sarah L. Manyika features conversations with major voices in the African and diaspora space. Between Starshine and Clay: Conversations from the African Diaspora was published in October 2022 by Footnote Press. A US release is scheduled for January 31, 2023.
The title of the book is a line from a poem by American poet Lucille Clifton, in which she marvels at her extraordinary achievements, as a black woman, in the face of impossible odds. Drawing from this idea of black struggle and triumph, Manyika brings together a set of conversations she’s had with prominent black voices on the continent and in the diaspora.
Nobel Laureates Wole Soyinka and Toni Morrison, poet Claudia Rankine, Henry Louis Gates, Margaret Busby, Zimbabwe’s Pastor Evan Mawarire, South African filmmaker Xoliswa Sithole, former first lady of the U.S. Michelle Obama are some of the featured writers, activists, and intellectuals. These are all people who stirred the course of history, fought against power, and inspired their communities and the world. Some of them were pivotal to some of the most defining moments of the 20th century.
All through the book, there is a powerful sense of history as these figures look back, take stock, reminisce about their lives and how they came to make the impact that they did. In the process of sharing their stories, they shed light on our moment.
Manyika is an accomplished writer with a distinct style and voice. She has authored two novels, published short stories, and written for publications such as Granta, The Guardian, and the Washington Post among others. Readers go to her for her ability to touch on what is most truthful about life, love, and intimate connections. She brings all of that to this book and more.
There is a powerfully personal dimension to her chronicling of the lives she centers in this book. Readers would love the emotional truth that the book conveys about what it means to create and organize in the most unfavorable conditions. It chronicles the wins but also captures the losses, the struggles, the uncertainties, and the fight. The book goes to all the difficult and uncomfortable places in order to address questions about race, decolonization, systemic inequalities, and the climate crisis in ways that feel urgent and timely.
In this video: where Manyika discusses the inspiration behind the book, she remarks on the book’s intimate atmosphere: “Consider this book like an invitation from me, your host, to a dinner party. It’s a lively and intimate dinner party and you get to meet people from different parts of the world, and you get a window into the lives of Black people from England to America to Nigeria to Zimbabwe.” Beautifully put!
We are delighted to share Manyika’s book with you, seeing that it is such important work, and that it made Brittle Paper’s 100 Notable Books of 2022 list last year!