University of Exeter: Leading African writers to take part in readings and workshops as part of major Exeter literary festival

Africa Writes – Exeter features AKO Caine Prize winners Okwiri Oduor and Irenosen Okojie, Yewande Omotoso, author of The Woman Next Door, Tjawangwa Dema, author of an/other pastoral, Nikki May, author of Wahala, Karla Neblett, author of King of Rabbits, rapper, Silai Estatira, and poets Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Kadija Sesay George, Al- Saddiq al-Raddi, Bryar Bajalan and Nour Khairi.

Free events also include discussions and a poetry writing workshop for 8 to 12-year-olds.

Africa Writes – Exeter will take place from Friday 17 June to Sunday 19 June. It is run by the Royal African Society and Saseni! working in partnership with the University of Exeter, local independent bookshop Bookbag and Roots Resistance.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Kate Wallis co-producer of Africa Writes – Exeter and Director of MA Publishing at the University of Exeter said: “This series of events builds out of collaborative work with the Africa Writes festival over a number of years to expand audiences for African and African diaspora literary programming outside of London. Exeter becoming a UNESCO City of Literature provided the perfect platform to launch a new locally-based edition of the Africa Writes festival and to grow spaces in the south west supporting and bringing visibility to African and African diaspora writers and creatives.

“Working in collaboration with Bookbag and Roots Resistance, we are bringing an amazing line-up of high profile novelists, short story writers and poets to Exeter this weekend: from Nii Ayikwei Parkes, who will be sharing his first in-person UK readings from acclaimed poetry collection The Geez, to Karla Neblett talking to Zakiya McKenzie about her powerful novel King of Rabbits which through the character of Kai writes the experience of growing up as part of a mixed-race family in rural Somerset, to Caine Prize-winning writer Irenosen Okojie who is known for being one of the most innovative short story writers working today.”

Malcolm Richards, Co-Producer of Africa Writes – Exeter & Co-Owner of Bookbag also spoke about his delight in welcoming such an amazing group of African voices to Exeter: “This event is the first of its kind not just in Exeter but in Devon and far south west. We’ve been able to put together a range of conversations and discussions that really speak to our local context and that celebrate contemporary African thought from African and African diaspora.

“In this particular moment, literary communities are under a lot of scrutiny for the lack of ethnic diversity represented in bookshelves, publishing and across our literature sector, and particularly the low levels of representation of Black and Brown creatives. Africa Writes places the work and words of our communities centrally in acts of celebration: expect to encounter in our programming themes of disruption, transformation, joy, environment and much more!”

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