Archive for June, 2008

June 30, 2008

Swallow by Seffi Atta


INTRODUCTION

Kachifo Limited, the publishers of Farafina Magazine and Farafina books, are proud to announce the release of an affordable, paperback edition of Sefi Atta’s new novel Swallow in Nigeria. Swallow can be found in all major bookshops.

SYNOPSIS

Swallow is the story of two friends Tolani and Rose; working class girls from entirely different backgrounds with nothing in common except their hustle and struggle not to be crushed by the society. They work at the Federal Community Bank and through their experiences; we see the way people in authority take advantage of those under them and we experience their hardships and frustrations. Sefi very expertly paints a picture of the typical Lagos life like no other writer can. Everyone has t

heir own hustle to which they cling, for therein lies their daily bread or hope for a better life.

In this richly textured narrative, Sefi explores the themes of class and morality. The protagonist is female and displays admirable strength and courage in a world that constantly gnaws at everything she believes in and holds sacred. Her characters are real and we quickly identify with them. We share in their pain, their joy, their hunger and their sweat. They are like our neighbors, our colleagues and our friends. As usual Sefi’s prose sings in clean, uncluttered sentences, laden with humor, satire and wit. Sefi blends the past and the present well with her excellent use of flashback such that one flows seamlessly into the other.

She closes with an emotionally charged ending with Tolani overcome with grief and questioning who her real father is and her mother’s morality. Though Rose is a lady of easy virtue, we feel her pain because at the end of the day, everyone swallows something or the other to get by. Mrs. Durojaiye swallows her pride, Sanwo swallows his morality and threatens to tell on his Uncle’s wife, Tolani swallows her values and beliefs and tries to swallow more… It simply goes on and on.

REVIEWS

In this unique novel, outstanding new literary talent Sefi Atta takes great strides in style and form, to bring wit and passion to the heartbreaking story of Tolani and Rose, two young women struggling, not always successfully to make an honest living in contemporary Nigeria… Atta tells in an eminently readable voice the irreconcilable nature of two friends’ fates.”

Tsitsi Dangarembga, author of Nervous Conditions.

Tender, fierce, vivid and memorable – a bold, distinctive novel from a writer who doesn’t compromise her integrity.”

Leila Aboulela, author of Minaret

The bustle, chaos and fast rhythm of Lagos jump from the pages of Swallow, Sefi Atta’s new book. It is fiction steeped in life.”

  • Veronique Ta djo, author of As the Crow Flies

Sefi Atta has woven a quietly intricate powerful tale that pulls from problems of gender, class and Lagosian life. It’s a novel whose many colorful characters, compelling story, distinct place and turbulent time will stay with you long after you’ve read the last word.”

  • Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, author of Zahrah the Windseeker

Sefi’s Swallow is a triumph of the terse. It throbs with laconic intelligence and the veritable Sefi Atta denoument.”

  • Tade Ipadeola, author of A Time of Signs

BIOGRAPHY

Sefi Atta was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1964 and was educated here, in the United Kingdom as well as in the United States. A former chartered accountant and CPA, she is a graduate of the creative writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles.

Her short stories have appeared in journals like Los Angeles Review and Mississippi Review and have won prizes from Zoetrope and Red Hen Press. Her radio plays have been broadcast by the BBC. She is the winner of PEN International’s 2004/2005 David TK Wong Prize and in 2006, her debut novel Everything Good Will Come was awarded the inaugural Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa.

She lives in Mississippi with her husband, Gboyega Ransome – Kuti and their daughter, Temi.

June 29, 2008

What Does Time Mean to You


I FORGET THAT TIME IS A HUMAN INVENTION.

We often hear the phrase before time. It would be just as accurate to say, before humans felt the need to quantify, to become more efficient, to maximize profits, to duplicate their efforts and move away from instinct. Have you ever said, I’m hungry, only to follow that statement with what time is it? We have become so dependent on time that when our bodies tell us that we are hungry, we must first consult the watch on our wrist or the clock on the wall to verify that our bodies’ messages are indeed sincere. It’s six o’clock, I should eat something!

Too often I’m reminded not of the importance of time but rather of the urgency that time has in my life. Horses remind me of this.

What is time to a horse? Sure there’s feeding time and there is nap time, but beyond these things, what is time to a horse? There is no prescribed time in which a new foal must learn to run from a predator. Foals know only that the must learn to run before being eaten. There are no certain number or hours that a prospective alpha horse must spend proving herself capable of that position.

So what is time to a horse? Time is survival. Time is relationship. Time is herd status. Time is family.

Taken from Time Well Spent, a journal from the author of Horse, Follow Closely…

For more on the author, GaWaNi Pony Boy, check here.

June 28, 2008

Finding a Right Balance


My day didn’t go right. Everything that could possibly go wrong did just that! At the end of the day, I looked at my TO DO list and could have wept in frustration. I barely mumbled a prayer in the morning; every other item was left undone. I don’t know if its just me or if that happens to you as well. I have many days like that…sometimes in succession. I try really hard not to beat myself up but its not easy. Is it possible to achieve a balance between over-achievement and complacence? I don’t know…

June 28, 2008

Dealing With Loneliness


I got an email from a dear friend not too long ago; he wanted to know if I’d been lonely before and what I did when I was lonely.; this was for a blog post he was working on.

The question set me thinking. Loneliness has been like a second skin to me. I don’t know about you, but that is a feeling I can relate to very well. It’s like a gaping chasm just waiting to swallow me given half a chance. But that’s it, I refuse to give it a chance!

What do you do to get over being lonely? Do you have any specially developed techniques or any home made recipes for that? Personally, I employ a number of antidotes to loneliness:

  • I get lost in the world of fiction. (A good Amanda Quick or Maeve Binchy can do wonders!)
  • I listen to music…and I don’t mean Enya-that only intensifies the loneliness. I listen to something which fits my mood but is also uplifting; like Michael W. Smith or ASA.
  • I write. I’ve been journaling since I was 12 years old. I discovered that once I could capture the emotion I was feeling in words, I could handle it.
  • Nevertheless, nothing beats talking to God. There are times when I try all 3 and nothing seems to fill the empty space and that’s when I do some God conversing.

Now I am aware that this is the wrong order. I should do the talking to God thing 1st! Oh well, I’ll work at it.

OK. So let me know how you deal with your loneliness…just drop a comment. And if you never get lonely, well, let me hear about that too!

June 27, 2008

Encouraging Me


I have been behind with my Thankful Thursday posts – mostly because I’ve been ill. However, this week I’m late because I really did not feel like posting anything; I’ve been feeling quite discouraged.

Well, I decided to combine my Thankful Thursday post with Ten Things Tuesday. I know in the latter I’m supposed to be thankful for things that happened today, but X-Box wife, you’re just going to have to forgive me.

In order to encourage myself, I decided to do a celebratory. This is a list of things I have to celebrate. The last one I did was in January, so I figured that halfway into the year, I should be due for another. So here goes!

  1. I have successfully sent our 6 issues of Sharon’s newsletter.
  2. I started this blog and I’ve been consistent with it. Somewhat.
  3. I made 3 wonderful friends online.
  4. I marked one year of dating B. (Yippee!!!)
  5. I lost some weight.
  6. I call home more often.
  7. I received an autographed copy of Jerry White’s book and oh, what a blessing!
  8. Friends…good and loyal friends are invaluable and I have both (good & loyal).
  9. Thankful Thursday…focusing on gratitude has been great in realigning my attitude.
  10. Ten Things Tuesday…I’ve met some really nice ladies through this.

These are all things to be thankful for. They might not look like much, but I believe its the little things that count.

June 27, 2008

Chaotic Paradise


I’m sitting out on my balcony trying to do some work. The breeze from the nearby creek is divine! The sky is so blue and the clouds are all soft an dreamy in different shades of pastel. I can see the top of several palm trees from where I’m sitting I can see the top of several palm trees – OK, well…if I stretch my neck a bit. A tropical paradise right? Correct. So what’s my problem hmm? There’s this big truck right below my balcony and a huge welding machine right beside it. The combined effect of the noise from thee truck and the welding machine is driving me crazy!!! Or it was until I had to do my stillness exercise. Then I had to search for the rythm in the chaos and concentrate on that. It was invaluable!

For me, stillness means meditating on the word of God; I just grab whatever word of scripture comes to my head at that time and meditate on it. This time is it was “the earth is the Lord’s and its fullness thereof…” Psalm (By the way, I read the New Living Translation but I learned all my memory verses in KJV…).

I’m on Day 25 of the Stillness Experiment. I have not always been faithful but the little time I’ve devoted to being still….wow! It is actually a 30 day experiment; I’ve not made up my mind yet if I’m going to stop after 30 days…I’m not sure I will. But you are invited to try it. Truly…just try being still for a minute, every hour for the next 1 month – it’s an incredible experience! If you need encouragement, well, you can call me of course (or drop a comment here), but you can also go here.