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Crime Beat

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Crime Beat: An African crime fiction conference in Frankfurt

Some years ago I remember Deon Meyer going off to an African crime fiction festival or conference in Germany and returning with news of a vibrant crime fiction publishing industry elsewhere on the continent. But, all these years later, those writers still remain fairly unknown to an international English readership, let alone at the southern tip. In an attempt to revisit African crime fiction, Germany is about to take a look at the rise of the genre by hosting another such festival, among other topics.  This happens at the end of next week (Friday and Saturday) in Frankfurt under the auspices of litprom, the Society for the promotion of African, Asian and Latin American Literature, and looks to be fascinating. For German speakers the link to the programme is here.

Afrikanissimo – Festival of African Literatures

Dr. Sonja Vandenrath, Cultural Office of the City of Frankfurt
Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair and first chairman of litprom – Society for the Promotion of African, Asian and Latin American Literatures

4:15–6:00 p.m.
The World is like a Masquerade Dance – New Stories from Africa

Panel discussion
If the world is like a masquerade dance: Who is dancing disguised behind the masks and who is revealing themselves and how? In today’s hybrid globalized world who could answer this question accurately? Yet the authors, who are living in at least two worlds, are precisely positioned in their literary works and have urgent stories to tell. But do these get published and reach the German audience?
With: Helon Habila [Nigeria / USA]; Patrice Nganang [Cameroon / USA]; Indra Wussow; publisher / editor [Germany / South Africa]
Chaired by Ilija Trojanow; writer [Germany]

8:00–10:00 p.m.
Investigations across Borders – Crime Fiction from South Africa and Ghana
The times of “national” crimes and “national” literatures are over. Sub-Saharan Africa – alongside many other possible descriptions – may be considered as a “crime space”, a crossroads of various conflicts consisting of diversely structured narratives. Experience two samples of African crime fiction.
With: Mike Nicol [South Africa]; Nii Parkes [Ghana / UK]
Chaired by Thomas Wörtche; cultural journalist, crime fiction expert [Germany]
Stéphane Bittoun (actor) is reading the German translations.
Both events will be interpreted simultaneously (English/German).

Literatures in Dialogue
The authors are going to converse with the audience and read extracts from their works in workshops.

11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.Workshop 1: No Gender Palava – Women writing
“This is where I planned my house: high, perpetual, made of stone and luminosity”, Conceição Lima writes in one of her poems. Yet the house will not be built; only the plans remain. Where can we live? With whom? And under which political conditions? Fatou Diome and Maaza Mengiste also ask these very questions. Colonialism, racism and their fellow countrymen’s rawness have left traces in their literary works. They write about these issues from a female point of view.
With: Fatou Diome [Senegal / France]; Conceição Lima [São Tomé e Príncipe]; Maaza Mengiste [Ethiopia / USA]
Chaired by Katharina Borchardt; literature critic and radio journalist [Germany]
The conversation will be interpreted consecutively (English/French/Portuguese/German).

11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.Workshop 2: South Africa – New Country, new Topics?
Political changes in South Africa have also had a considerable effect on its literature(s) and led to stylistic diversity. But how is the new South Africa going to continue literarily? Will the growing globalization with its promises of success on the world market of literatures reinstate linguistic as well as genre-related uniformity? Or do regional voices and languages continue to be heard or even be heard increasingly? And do current governmental policies not demand South Africa’s literatures to (re-)position themselves politically in a more explicit manner?
With: Mike Nicol [South Africa]; Indra Wussow, publisher and editor [Germany / South Africa]
Chaired by Manfred Loimeier; journalist and literary scholar with a focus on African literatures [Germany]
The conversation will be interpreted consecutively (English/German).

3:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
Workshop 3: Who are you writing for? National vs. international Audiences
Time and again writers have to answer the question: “Why are you writing?” African writers however are additionally confronted with the question: “Who are you writing for?” There are just as many answers to these questions as there are writers. But isn’t it somehow problematic if many African authors are living abroad? And what consequences does it have that African publishing industries only have few success stories to tell while the majority of African authors is published and read in Europe or the USA?
With: Chirikure Chirikure [Zimbabwe]; Patrice Nganang [Cameroon / USA]; Maaza Mengiste [Ethiopia / USA]
Chaired by Peter Ripken; chairman ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network) [Germany]
The conversation will be interpreted consecutively (English/German).

3:00–4:30 p.m.
Workshop 4: Seeking Traces a little differently
African crime fiction still is a relatively recent phenomenon. Which traditions does it incorporate? What social developments does it reflect? What kinds of images of Africa does it convey? Can it still be considered a “genre”? Where is its position in literary and political contexts? Is it able to interfere in social and political discourses? And last but not least: How does it differ from other crime fiction – esthetically as well as functionally.
With: Nii Parkes [Ghana / UK]; Helon Habila [Nigeria / USA]; Detlef Bernd Blettenberg, crime fiction writer [Germany]
Chaired by Thomas Wörtche; cultural journalist, crime fiction expert [Germany]
The conversation will be interpreted consecutively (English/German).

6:00–7:00 p.m.
Closing Panel: Strong Voices from Africa – Who is listening?
Panel discussion
Strong voices. Who is hearing them and where do they come from? The majority of African writers perceived and translated in Germany are actually living and working in Europe or the US. Does this affect their way of writing making it more accessible to the European audience? Or is it irrelevant and a wider reception of African literatures simply requires more mediation initiatives and awareness raising in the media for example. And what contribution can recommendation lists such as the litprom list of best books “Weltempfänger” (literally: world receiver) make.
With: Fatou Diome [Senegal / France]; Patrice Nganang [Cameroon / USA]; Ilija Trojanow, writer [Germany]
Chaired by Holger Ehling, journalist and expert in African literatures [Germany]
The discussion will be interpreted simultaneously (English/German) as well as consecutively (French).

8:30 p.m.
In between Love and Wrath: Strong Voices – Gentle Notes
Poetry Performances
The Festival of African Literatures culminates in an exceptional literary-musical event: Conceição Lima’s and Chirikure Chririkure’s poetry performances in Shona, English, Portuguese and German will be complemented musically by mbira, drums and percussion.
With: Conceição Lima [São Tomé e Príncipe]; Chirikure Chirikure [Zimbabwe]; Joram Tarusarira, mbira [Zimbabwe / Germany]
Baby Sommer, drums and percussion [Germany]
Presentation and German translations: Thomas Brückner, literary scholar and translator


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    January 18th, 2013 @23:55 #

    This looks amazing. I hope it goes swimmingly, Mike, and that you gain lots of new fans.


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