Chinua Achebe to Help Penguin Infuse New Energy in African Literature
“The last 500 years of European contact with Africa produced a body of literature that presented Africa in a very bad light and now the time has come for Africans to tell their own stories,” said Achebe, author of the classics Things Fall Apart and Anthills of the Savannah. “Africa is not simple – often people want to simplify it, generalise it, stereotype its people, but Africa is very complex.”
Achebe hopes the series will bring new energy to African literature, and will help it reach a wider audience. “This is really what I personally want to see – writers from all over Africa contributing to a definition of themselves, writing ourselves and our stories into history,” he said. “One of the greatest things literature does is allow us to imagine; to identify with situations and people who live in completely different circumstances, in countries all over the world. Through this series, the creative exploration of those issues and experiences that are unique to the African consciousness will be given a platform, not only throughout Africa, but also beyond its shores.”
“I am honoured to join Penguin in inviting young and upcoming writers to accept the challenge passed down by celebrated African authors of earlier decades and to continue to explore, confront and question the realities of life in Africa through their work; challenging Africa’s people to lift her to her rightful place among the nations of the world.”
Penguin also announced today that it would be establishing a new literary prize for African writers, which will offer the authors of previously unpublished works in both fiction and non-fiction the opportunity to win R50,000 (£3,800) and a contract with Penguin South Africa.