The Caine Prize for African Writing 2012
The Caine Prize for African Writing is the continent’s leading literary prize, sometimes referred to as ‘The African Booker’, and it’s easy to see why when reading the collection of stories from this year’s slew of entries. The winning story, ‘Bombay’s Republic’ by Nigerian author Rotimi Babtunde, was inspired by the author’s desire to delve into a neglected part of African history:
Babatunde said he was moved to write his story because ‘that context of world war two in African history, and the story of the Nigerians who went to the Burmese front, has not been properly explored’. Growing up hearing stories of the war, and reading about it, he also wanted to ‘commemorate the sacrifice’ of the soldiers who died there. Alison Flood at The Guardian
Bye Bye Babylon: Beirut 1975-1979
The Lebanese Civil War between Christians and Muslims ended more than 20 years ago, but the impacts can still be seen around the country – destroyed buildings, shelling holes on houses’ walls and posters of missing people who are still have not been found. The Lebanese avoid talking about the war and media portrayals of the event are highly censored. Nevertheless, it does not stop Lamia Ziade to tell her story growing up during the war.
In her memoir, Lamia uses colorful paintings and illustrations to tell the stories, with sporadic text to explain a little bit more about the images. Her storytelling style shows her simple and innocent mind in looking at the chaos and dangers surrounding her home and family.
The History of English: An Introduction
As an introductory textbook, The History of English by Stephan Gramley isn’t exactly the kind of book you’d imagine someone would sit down and read for enjoyment, from cover to cover – but that’s exactly what I did. Being a (past) student of linguistics and a bit of a word nerd, I wanted to refresh my knowledge of our fair language, its origins and mutations and those little nuggets of curiosity sprinkled throughout. And this book did just that, and a whole lot more.
This comprehensive and wholly-readable text covers everything there is to know about the history of the English language, from its origins with the Germanic tribes, to the invasions of the Vikings and their Old Norse, and the influences of French and Latin, both forced and borrowed. Later imperial and colonial efforts spawned a whole plethora of dialects, pidgins and creoles – the World Englishes – and each of these is discussed in detail.
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