BLAA’s Literature Today series looks to Africa and its acclaimed writers


Started in 2020 as a platform for contemporary writers, the Literatura Hoy series returns to Bogotá’s largest public library Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango (BLAA) with a focus on African voices and the works of Tanzanian Nobel Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah (b.1948). Gurnah was awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for his 10 novels, among them, Paradise, Pilgrim’s Way, By the Sea and Afterlives. He is Emeritus Professor of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent.

The guest author in charge of moderating the different interviews is Gilbert Shang Ndi, from Cameroon, and who holds a Ph.D in Comparative Literature from the University of Bayreuth (Germany). Shang Ndi specialises in the relationship between African and Latin American literature.

For this second edition of Literatura Hoy, Shang Ndi raises two central ideas that started from two questions that guided his selection of the participating writers. The first, is about the relationship between both territories, mediated by what Nigerian author and feminist Chimamanda N. Adichie, refers to as “the danger of the single story.” The second idea is recognition of the global factors that unite Africa and Latin America, such as: colonization, slavery, independence, segregation, foreign overexploitation of raw materials and their consequences, political dictatorships, and search for happiness in the midst of tragedy. “The construction of spaces to tell the story with our own voice, our resilience, are elements that unite two continents and that should be faced together,” states Shang Ndi.

Below a listing of the seven interviews that are part of the cycle, and available online from November 27 on BLAA’s YouTube channel canal de YouTube de Banrepcultural.

1. What is the object of literature today? / Gilbert Shang Ndi in conversation with Patrick Chamoiseau

2.  Literature, like love, are forms of resistance / Gilbert Shang Ndi in conversation with Lebogang Mashile

3.  Writing is recognizing our space in the world / Gilbert Shang Ndi talks with Tsitsi Dangarembga

4.  Poetry is a form of activism / Gilbert Shang Ndi in conversation with Susan Kiguli

5.  Poetry is a commitment to life / Gilbert Shang Ndi in conversation with Joyce Ashuntantang

6.  Writing about the Congo is talking about globalized suffering / Gilbert Shang Ndi talks with Jean Bofane

7.   Art, like a street or a market, overflows all categorization / Gilbert Shang Ndi talks with Biyi Bandele



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