Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Co-Curates PEN World Voices Festival In NYC With Focus On African Literature

The PEN World Voices Festival with a focus on African literature, co-curated by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, will take place May 4-10 in NYC.

The PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature returns to New York City this May for a week-long celebration of contemporary literary movements from across Africa and the diaspora. Grammy-nominated Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was tapped to serve as co-curator of the festival's African program, and will be delivering the festival's closing address.

This year's festival features an impressive roster of 100 writers from 30 countries, including Ghanaian-born Jamaican poet Kwame Dawes, Nigerian essayist Teju Cole, Senegalese screenwriter Boubacar Boris Diop, South African visual activist Zanele Muholi, Cameroonian publisher Ntone Edjabe, Haitan novelist Edwige Danticat, and Kenyan writers Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Billy KahoraYvonne Adhiambo Owuor and Binyavanga Wainaina. A towering mixed-media collage by provocative Kenyan surrealist Wangechi Mutu was also chosen as the official festival artwork (seen below, along with Mutu's Guide To A Fantastic Journey at the Brooklyn Museum).

Launched eleven years ago in the wake of 9/11 to combat "American cultural isolationism," the annual literary extravaganza adopted a new curatorial approach for its 2015 edition which is taking place under the theme "On Africa." This year's event puts a spotlight on the new and old schools of creative writing arising from across the continent with an engaging lineup of workshops, readings, and conversations focusing on varying topics of literary interest including migration, memory and imagination, the importance of bearing witness, the role of literature in Africa's gay rights movement and the future of queer creative communities across Africa and its diaspora.

Festival Director László Jakab Orsós acknowledged the limitations present in trying to encapsulate the breadth of Africa's contemporary literature culture in a statement from the organizers: "Focusing on the African continent is an ambitious undertaking,” said Orsós. “We cannot, in one week-long Festival, even come close to presenting the entirety of the riveting literary landscapes throughout Africa, but we’re excited to present a select group of writers and artists who, I believe, will inspire New York audiences with their uncompromising and brilliant work. It’s our privilege to put the spotlight on these writers, and it is my hope that they will challenge all of us to create art that is bravely subversive and relevant to our time.”

The 11th annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature will take place in various locations throughout NYC from May 4-10. Visit the official PEN World Voices Festival website for more information on the schedule of events and the full list of festival participants.

Wangechi Mutu, Root Of All Eves


Interview: Wavy The Creator Is Ready to See You Now

The multidisciplinary Nigerian-American artist on tapping into all her creative outlets, creating interesting things, releasing a new single and life during quarantine.

A trip canceled, plans interrupted, projects stalled. It is six months now since Wavy the Creator has had to make a stop at an undisclosed location to go into quarantine and get away from the eye of the pandemic.

The professional recording artist, photographer, writer, fashion artist, designer, and evolving creative has been spending all of this time in a house occupied by other creatives. This situation is ideal. At least for an artist like Wavy who is always in a rapid motion of creating and bringing interesting things to life. The energy around the house is robust enough to tap from and infuse into any of her numerous creative outlets. Sometimes, they also inspire trips into new creative territories. Most recently, for Wavy, are self-taught lessons on a bass guitar.

Wavy's days in this house are not without a pattern, of course. But some of the rituals and personal rules she drew up for herself, like many of us did for internal direction, at the beginning of the pandemic have been rewritten, adjusted, and sometimes ditched altogether. Some days start early and end late. Some find her at her sewing machine fixing up thrift clothes to fit her taste, a skill she picked up to earn extra cash while in college, others find her hard at work in the studio, writing or recording music.

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