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A Strange New Fiction: Ben Okri and His Stokus

My bookshelves have long since given up. They’ve taken to spitting out books on the carpet at the slightest ache from overload. And Starbook (2007) is one of such books. It is the fourth book from the bottom in a stack sitting on the bare floor, gathering dust. Ben Okri said in a Youtube video […]

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A Thousand Pities That A Book Cannot Write Its Own Preface

It is had to argue against a book writing its own preface, telling its on story about how it came into being. Robert Bridges, the obscure British poet who I quote in the title of this post is clear on one issue: if books wrote their own prefaces, they are probably not going to thank […]

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Frames of Suffering

Abu Graib photos, like other photographs that represent suffering, are unsettling not because they are shocking but because they make demands on us. The act of looking at photographs like that is never quite simple because you come out of it thinking about the need for an ethical response. This tendency to link photography and […]

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Home Sweet Fantasy!

I don’t know what to call this piece of writing. Is it a cross between a review and a summary–two of the most boring genres? If that is what you make of it, I apologize. On the brighter side, let’s just say that it’s my immediate response–written months ago– to a book I read this […]

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Sebald’s Austerlitz

Apart from the fact that the entire novel is one long paragraph, Austerlitz is also a novel that does not want to be a novel. Is it a mock-biography? A picture book of sorts? A reflection on architecture, time, and memory? It’s really hard to say. One thing that is certain however is that whatever […]

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The Case For Books

Common sense tells us that a culture tends to require justification only when it’s existence is very seriously threatened. What better way is there to sound the death knell of books if not by writing a book in defense of the culture and production of books? This is what Robert Darnton, the director of Harvard’s […]

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120 Days of Sodom

“If the book does not shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place?” — Franz Kafka I may have followed Kafka’s exhortation beyond its illogical extreme when I opened Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom, an exhaustive index of sexual excesses in their most revolting […]

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Painting the White in White History

Get past the somewhat presumptuous and oddly ambitious airs of the title, The History of White People, and you will find a genuinely absorbing book. In the book, Neil Painter uproots whiteness from its default position as the colorless race, as the invisible pallet against which all other races are defined as colored and places […]

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Kwame Dawes’s “Yard Boy”: A Powerful Poem for Our Moment

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Kwame Dawes recently wrote a poem titled “Yard Boy” that speaks to the recent events surrounding the death of George […]

Teju Cole’s Spotify Playlists Offer Musical Solace for These Times

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Among Teju Cole’s many talents is his ability to curate music that captures a mood or even the feel of […]

Petina Gappah to Write Play About the Censorship History of Dambudzo Marechera’s Novel Black Sunlight

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Petina Gappah recently announced that she was writing a play that focuses on “the 1982 banning and unbanning” of Dambudzo […]

Oh, Blessed Bri’Land | Jedah Mayberry | Fiction

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Bri’Land glistened at me, her brilliant display of pink sand shimmering in delight.  It would seem that I had finally, […]

Books That Go with Wine and Books That Don’t

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The beverages most associated with reading are tea and coffee. But many readers love to cozy up in bed with […]

In This House | Inok Rosemary | Poetry

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  In this house, we sift our words, Never letting the walls hear what they shouldn’t. The fear of their […]

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