On Tuesday, April 19, at 7 p.m. at New York University, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka will join writers from Africa and beyond in a reading and discussion about African literature considered in both a local and a global context. The event, which is free and open to the public, takes place at NYU’s Vanderbilt Hall, Tishman Auditorium, 40 Washington Square South. Also taking part in the event are: Breyten Breytenbach, Nuruddin Farah, Uwe Timm, Zakes Mda, Achmat Dangor, Elizabeth Alexander, Tsitisi Dangarembga, Pedro Rosa Mendes, and Nguigi wa Thiong’o. For further information call 212.998.8816.
Hosted by NYU’s Creative Writing Program Reading Series, the evening is presented in association with PEN American Center as part of the PEN World Voices International Literary Festival, a week-long festival celebrating writers from every continent.
Soyinka is the 1986 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Nigerian-born, he was held as a political prisoner for 22 months during that country’s civil war in the late 1960s. He is the author of several collections of poetry including Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems, two novels, books of essays and memoirs including The Burden of Memory, The Muse of Forgiveness, and numerous plays.
A native of South Africa, Breytenbach, Distinguished Global Professor of Creative Writing at NYU, is the author of more than 30 books of poetry, numerous novels, short story compilations, essays, and dramatic works. From 1975-1982, he was a political prisoner in South Africa for his opposition to apartheid. His most recent volume of poetry is Lady One.
Dangor, a native of Johannesburg, South Africa, is the author of the novel Bitter Fruit which was short-listed for the Impac Award in 2003 and has been long-listed for the 2004 Man Booker Prize.
Somali novelist Farah spent 22 years in exile from his homeland. His best known and most acclaimed work are two novel trilogies: Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship and Blood in the Sun.
Mda was born in the Eastern Cape. His novels, She Plays with the Darkness, Ways of Dying, and The Heart of Redness, represent a new direction in post-apartheid writing and have been acclaimed for their introduction of magic realism into South African fiction. The Heart of Redness won the Sunday Times Fiction Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Africa region, in 2001.
Born in Hamburg, Germany, Timm is the author of numerous novels, including The Snake Tree, Headhunter, The Invention of the Curried Sausage, and Midsummer Night. He has been awarded the Literature Prize of the Bavarian Academy for Fine Arts, the Munich Literature Prize, and the Schubart Literary Prize, among others.
Alexander is the author of three volumes of poetry, Antebellum Dream Book, Body of Life, and The Venus Hottentot. She has received several grants and awards, including a NEA fellowship and a Pushcart Prize.
Dangarembga was born in Zimbabwe and is the author of Nervous Conditions, the first novel to be published in English by a black Zimbabwean woman. In 1989, it won the African section of the Commonwealth Writers Prize.
Mendes’s dispatches from Angola and Belgrade have twice earned him the Feature of the Year Prize in Portugal for reportage as well as the Lisbon Press Club’s Bordalo Prize.
wa Thiong’o, a Kenyan writer, now writes almost entirely in his native Gikuyu. His novels in English include A Grain of Wheat, The River Between, and Petals of Blood, as well as a memoir of the time he spent detained by the Kenyan government, Detained.
The next reading in the NYU Creative Writing Program Spring Reading Series is The Goldwater Writing Project Benefit Reading with poet Jean Valentine on April 21.
The NYU Creative Writing Program, with permanent faculty members E.L. Doctorow, Galway Kinnell, Paule Marshall, and Sharon Olds, has distinguished itself for over three decades as a leading national center for the study of literature and writing. The Creative Writing Program Director is Melissa Hammerle. The Reading Series, sponsored in cooperation with the NYU Book Centers and the Fales Collection at NYU, is a vital component of the Writing Program, bringing both established and new writers to NYU.
The NYU Creative Writing Program Reading Series is made possible by generous support from the Lila Acheson Wallace Theater Fund, established in The New York Community Trust by the founders of the Reader’s Digest Association. Additional support is provided by Robert E. Holmes.