Heavy on literary news from some of the continent’s greatest voices, This Week in African Art and Culture touches on an exhibition in Johannesburg, as well as celebratory news from Zimbabwe, Nigeria and the diaspora. From book deals to more acclaim for writers on the continent, there is a lot to look forward to over the course of the year …
South African Artist Abongile Sidmuzo’s Amagoduka at Absa Gallery, Johannesburg
Absa Gallery, Johannesburg, in partnership with the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), has on view a solo exhibition by South African artist Abongile Sidzumo. He is the 2021 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto award winner. In this exhibition, the artist is presenting recently produced artworks themed Amagoduka, a term used for people who live in urban areas but are originally from rural locations. For Sidzumo, it is a concept of belonging and is what he considers home.
Sidmuzo’s practice is influenced by his life experience and the performance of everyday life in Black communities. In his body of work, he assembles discarded leather offcuts to create imaginary landscapes. The leather offcuts are stitched together by thread to explore ideas around migrant labor, land and class. The act of repurposing leather offcuts draws influence from the livelihoods of the working class.
Cultural attaché and Deputy Director of the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), a lead sponsor of the Gerard Sekoto Award, Sophie Boulé said, “Abongile brought his South African roots to a new city, one known for its culture and inspiration. As part of the award, Abongile will embark on a touring exhibition across South Africa, providing an opportunity for exposure amongst art aficionados. Along with our partners, Absa and South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), we are proud to accompany Abongile and other South African artists in sharing their work both nationally and internationally.”
The work of Sidzumo deals with often overlooked suffering and violence experienced by Black people. His work captures the feeling of being in certain spaces and how those spaces impact the way people navigate through life. The importance of having a place to visit and spending time with family and friends as a form of healing.
“Winning the Gerard Sekoto award has been the biggest highlight of my career,” Sidzumo said. “It has encouraged me to keep going and believe in my art practice. Umntu Ngumntu Ngabantu, a big thank you to Absa and everyone involved.” Sidzumo articulated with a Xhosa saying which means, “A person is a person through other people.”
Following the closing of the exhibition at Absa Gallery on April 6, 2023, Amagoduka will continue as a traveling exhibition in South Africa to Gqheberha from May 2–June 2; Bloemfontein from Aug. 28–Sept. 29; and Tshwane from Oct. 27-Nov. 18, 2023.
Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo’s Glory Longlisted for 2023 Women’s Prize for Fiction
Zibabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo is on the 2023 Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist for her novel, Glory. Of the 16 authors listed, Bulawayo is the only African.
Louise Minchin, the chair of judges said that all 16 longlisted works “offer fresh perspectives on history and humanity, exploring hard truths with empathy, sensitivity, directness and sometimes infectious humor.”
This is Bulawayo’s first nomination for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, which, for 28 years, has celebrated “outstanding, ambitious, original fiction written in English by women from anywhere in the world.” Since its founding, over 20 African women have been represented on its long and shortlists, with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie winning in 2007 for Half of a Yellow Sun and later receiving the Winner of Winners prize in 2020.
Bulawayo is a resounding voice in contemporary African literature today. Glory, her second book, was shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize.
A shortlist of six books will be announced on April 26, after which the winner will be announced on June 14.
South African Comedian Trevor Noah Has a New Novel in the Works
South African comedian and writer Trevor Noah, known for his role as the host of The Daily Show until he signed off, is releasing a second book later this year. Though the title is still under wraps, the novel has been described as a modern fable and will be published by One World, an imprint of Random House.
The publisher has described the book as a “gorgeously illustrated and moving modern fable for readers of all ages about forgiveness, acceptance and the secret to solidarity.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, Noah’s book evokes allegories and fables like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Little Prince.
Noah, who’s been on a global stand-up tour since he signed off at The Daily Show in December, already had established himself as an acclaimed writer with his first book, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, published in 2016, which became a number one international bestseller.
In Born a Crime, Noah told the story of growing up in South Africa as a mixed-race child and the humor and battles that came with that. His collection of personal accounts will be adapted for film with Lupita Nyong’o, who will star as Noah’s mother, Patricia.
One World’s executive vice president and publisher, Chris Jackson, who edited Born a Crime while he was at Spiegel & Grau, acquired the North American translation and audio rights to the latest book from Noah’s book agent, Peter McGuigan at Ultra Literary.
Trevor Noah’s new book is due to be out this fall.
Nigerian Writer Yomi Adegoke’s Upcoming Debut Novel The List To Be Adapted for Screen
Nigerian author Yomi Adegoke’s forthcoming debut novel, The List, scheduled for publishing later this year, has been optioned for television. The TV series will be co-developed by A24, BBC and HBO Max, with Adegoke as creator and executive producer.
The novel has been receiving a lot of attention even before publication. In fact, Adegoke’s sensational debut novel was sold in a fierce 11-way auction to publisher 4th Estate last year. The List will be published by 4th Estate, a HarperCollins imprint, on July 6 in the U.K. and by William Morrow on Sept. 26 in the U.S.
Exploring secrets, lies, and our digital lives, The List is centered on a young, beautiful, internet-famous couple, Ola and Michael, whose “picture-perfect relationship comes under intense scrutiny when a list of unsubstantiated allegations appear online.” It asks whether their relationship can or should survive the storm.
“I truly cannot put into words how excited I am to have the opportunity to tell Ola and Michael’s story on-screen,” said Adegoke. “There is so much more I have to say on the complexities of these characters’ on and offline lives, their friends, their families and everything else; being able to do so in a series is nothing short of a dream come true. The fact that I’ll be working with the best in the business—A24, HBO Max and the BBC—is an absolute privilege, and I am so thankful to them for believing in me and this book before I’d even finished it! I can’t wait for The List‘s next chapter.”
Yomi Adegoke is an award-winning Nigerian journalist and author. She has co-written The Offline Diaries (2022), and authored Loud Black Girls (2020) and Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible (2018). She was named one of Forbes 30 under 30 in 2021 and is a recipient of the Groucho Maverick award and the Marie Clare Future Shaper award. She is a columnist at both The Guardian newspaper and British Vogue.