December 03, 2018

The Caine Prize for African Writing 2018 Anthology

We're approaching the end of another year and so it's time for my annual review of the Caine Prize for African Writing Anthology. I've been reviewing the Caine Prize Anthology on this blog site since 2015! I find great pleasure and excitement in reading short stories from new voices and familiar voices every year. 

As always, I preordered my copy of this years anthology, Redemption Song and Other Stories,  off Amazon but I didn't get to reading it until November in advance of this month's book review blog post. I found Redemption Song and Other Stories disappointing. Right off the bat I found myself skipping stories either halfway through it or after a careful perusal because of an underwhelming opening paragraph or first page. I could not find any story in that collection that I could get through. In light of this I've decided to break tradition and skip this years review of the Caine Prize Anthology. I ended up donating my copy of Redemption Song and Other Stories to the GoodWill store near me because I've made a resolution to only keep books I've read and books I plan to read on my book shelf. I found it necessary to make that resolution because I had so many half finished books abandoned on my shelf causing clutter. I considered not discussing this but I think it's necessary. 

This does not change anything. I will always review the Caine Prize Anthology for as long as this blog is active. I'm already anticipating the literary treasures next year's Caine Prize Anthology will bring. Catch up on previous book reviews of this anthology! 

Osondu Awaraka
Incessant Scribble

[Image via Amazon]

October 27, 2018

FARAFINA Launched an E-Bookstore!

Kachifo Limited launched its new e-book store,, on October 20th, 2018. Now, you can buy and read on your devices your best-loved titles from any of their imprints: Farafina, Tuuti, Breeze and Kamsi.

To Start Reading on Farafinabooks
- Go to
- Click on Free Account on the top right corner of the site and fill in your details
- After completing the form, you'll receive an email containing your verification code
- Enter this verification code on the site
- Log in with your created account and start reading!

A total of 22 books, including Freshwater and What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, are currently available on the store, and the list is constantly being updated. 

August 13, 2018

Book Release!!! | "Of Women and Frogs" by Bisi Adjapon

Farafina is set to publish debut novel, Of Women and Frogs, by Bisi Adjapon, in December 2018. Of Women and Frogs is a coming-of-age story of Esi, a feisty half-Nigerian girl growing up in post-colonial Ghana, with occasional visits to her maternal family in Lagos. When her curiousity about her body leads to punishment from her stepmother, Esi begins to question the hypocrisy of the adults around her who place restrictions on her just because she's a girl.

"The subject of sex and gender disparity has always fascinated me," Adjapon says. "But I didn't want a didactic book. I wanted to entertain and touch hearts. I wanted to write the kind of book I loved to read, a book featuring a woman who is intelligent, well-educated, funny, romantic and has a healthy libido."

Adjapon first published Of Women and Frogs as a short story in McSweeney's Quarterly Issue 38, before the novel itself was completed. Her writings have appeared in journals and newspapers including the Washington Times, Daily Graphic and Chicken Bones. As an International Affairs Specialist for the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service, she won the Civil Rights Award for Human Relations, and a Strategic Objective Award for her work on the Norman Borlaug Capacity Building Fellows targeting women in developing countries.

She holds degrees in French and Spanish and has worked in several embassies, taught and managed projects in Costa Rica, Mexico, South Africa and Ghana. Until recently, she was a language instructor at the Diplomatic Language School in Virginia. Currently, she divides her time between Ghana and America. When not working, she plays tennis and loves to eat chocolate.

Praise for Of Women and Frogs: 
"This is a really wonderful story. [Bisi Adjapon] writes with incredible vividness and clarity. [Her] similes and attention to all of the sense are really extraordinary," Dave Eggers, publisher of McSweeney's Quaterly Concern and Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, says of the forthcoming release.

"Esi is every girl, every woman, who is torn between doing her duty and staying true to herself. We're excited about this beautiful story of courage coming at a time when more women are standing up and speaking their truth." - Enajite Efemuaye, Managing Editor at Farafina.

Of Women and Frogs will be available in retail stores in Nigeria from December 1st, 2018!

March 07, 2018

A Decade of Blogging | Incessant Scribble

19 Y.O. The night before I turned 20
Ten years ago in an internet cafe on the University of Nigeria, Nsukka campus I created this blog site and published my first blog post titled My Blogenesis. I was there that night with Onyeka Nwelue but he was at a different computer station because that night the cyber cafe was packed. I had needed convincing by my friends Eromo Egbejule and Nwelue (both of whom had blogs at the time) to begin blogging because my major worry was starting the blog and lapsing into irregularity. I was also secretly worried and nervous about putting myself out there and opening myself to scrutiny and criticism. That night I took a leap of faith because they gave me wings and here I am ten years later. Ten years. I was nineteen years old sitting in the cafe that night, 14 days away from turning twenty. I'm twenty-nine years old right now sitting in my apartment, trying to compose this post before heading out to work, 14 days away from that scary number THIRTY. 30 years old. Ohhh myyy gawdd. "What am I doing with my life?" is a question I've asked myself countless times in the past. It's a question that pops into my mind with increasing frequency as these few last days of my twenties flash by.

29 Y.O. This morning. 
I had long imagined that to celebrate this anniversary I would conjure up a thoughtful and lengthy blog post chronicling the last ten years of my life but when I woke up this morning I knew it wasn't going to happen lol. However, it's necessary that I point out the three years break I took from blogging. I started working on getting into pharmacy school the year I moved to America and by 2010 things were heating up. There was lots of stress and pressure as I combined school, secular work, and increased responsibilities at home for the first time in my life. No matter what I had on my plate I needed amazing grades to get into pharmacy school. I was scared of failure and did not want to be distracted so I abruptly restricted all access to this blog site. I locked it up and threw away the key. I have zero blog posts from August 2010 to March 2013, a span of about three years. My leisure reading dipped really low during that hiatus but I'm glad I kept reading. One of the books I always regret not blogging about is Brian Chikwava's Harare North. I wish I had shared how much I enjoyed that book. It wasn't until the end of my first year of pharmacy school that I returned to blogging as a way to deal with the stress of school. Chimamanda Adichie was about to release Americanah and the email from her Nigerian publishers requesting that I announce their release of her novel was the extra push I needed to get back to blogging. I haven't taken any breaks since then.

I had hoped that by today I would have reviewed at least 100 books on this blog site but 77 book reviews from 18 different African countries isn't too shabby. Incessant Scribble has been an incredible blessing in my life. The fact that I've done all of this single-handedly makes me so proud. So freaking proud. I need to thank Onyeka Nwelue & Eromo Egbejule for the love and these wings. I need to thank all my readers. I need to thank all my favorite bloggers who constantly inspire me to work harder at this. I need to thank everyone who visits this blog, subscribes to this blog, tweets, comments, shares and likes my blog posts. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you soo much. You encourage me in more ways that you know. The next decade of my life will undoubtedly bring a lot of change and I'm not yet certain about my plans for this platform that I've cultivated. Whatever I decide I'll keep you posted.

Much Love,

Dr. Osondu Nnamdi Awaraka

March 04, 2018

Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin | Book Review

There are eight short stories in Going to Meet the Man. The first is The Rockpile, a tale of a small family and its abusive patriarch. In The Outing a young black adolescent boy bears the weight of a yet to be fully understood secret that makes him different from the other boys. In The Man Child Eric and his parents celebrate the birthday of his father's childhood friend, Jamie. Jamie, who just turned thirty-four, is "old" and has no wife, kids or property. The tension that bubbles beneath the surface during the birthday dinner doesn't forewarn us of the evil darkness that ends this tale. In Previous Conditions a struggling black actor is broke, alone and frustrated. In Sonny's Blues two brothers try hard to understand each other after the death of their mother. The African American singer in This Morning, This Evening, So Soon readies himself for a trip back home after years of being abroad. Come to the Wilderness is an engaging story of a woman reflecting on all the hurt she's holding on to and all of her choices. It has some of the best, most moving lines in this collection. The last story is the titular Going to Meet the Man which isn't at all the sexual rendezvous its name suggests. In this upsetting story a racist sheriff lies in bed reminiscing on a life changing public event he witnessed while perched atop his fathers' shoulders.

I love the first two stories because of its protagonist Johnnie who's lovable, confused and perilously close to his first heartbreak. The first two stories also brought back childhood memories of the pious persons I used to know. The Man Child story hurt and Come Out the Wilderness was sad. I interrupted my reading of Going to Meet the Man to search for the song Glory by Common & John Legend. I listened to it on iTunes, watched Yolanda Adams' mind-blowing cover on YouTube, then watched the Common/John Legend performance of the song at the Oscars before then returning to read the final three pages of the story. It's very important that African migrants continuously educate themselves on America's history. We need constant reminders that the freedoms we currently enjoy were fought for and paid for with human lives. This is a great short story collection. Fifteen months after I bought it off Amazon I finally read this book and I can proudly say I've read something by the revered James Baldwin. You should read this.
This is my fourth and final book pick for my literary celebration of Black History Month. READ my reviews of Gabrielle Union's We're Going to Need More Wine, Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing, and Junot Diaz's Drown

February 27, 2018

Drown by Junot Diaz | Book Review

Junot Diaz's Drown is a collection of ten short stories. It begins with Ysrael, a tale of two brothers who set out to track down a local kid whose mauled face is perpetually hidden behind a mask. In Fiesta a family poses a united front at a party despite the patriarchs' dirty secret. I couldn't make sense of the third story Aurora soooo that's that. In Aguantando a mother and her two sons endure the lengthy absence of the man of the house. In the titular story Drown an ambitious kid returns back to his poor neighborhood from college. His return dredges up feelings of inferiority and shame in the protagonist because of the two brief moments they experimented sexually. In Boyfriend the protagonist is infatuated with the beautiful girl, way out of his league, who lives upstairs. Edison, New Jersey is centered around an experience two boys have while on the job. How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl or Halfie is just like it sounds - an adolescent boy giving advice based on his limited repertoire of experiences. The story No Face takes us back to the mauled boy from the first short story. Negocios is the last short story and my favorite one of the entire collection. I like it because it finally addresses the constant absence of their dad who went away to America. It deals with the American Dream and the grand expectations of success and wealth that those of us from poorer nations carry with us as well as the realities of life in America.

I discovered Junot Diaz via two literary blogs I love. Read Diverse Books dedicated an entire month to celebrate, review and promote books by latin authors. Those series of blog posts by Naz Hernandez greatly inspired me to put in the work necessary for my current annual Black History Month literary celebration. Darkowaa's review of Junot's This Is How You Lose Her on her blog African Book Addict solidified my decision to give this author a shot. Drown is an underwhelming, unimpressive collection of short stories. There wasn't anything exciting in it for me. Junot's well celebrated though so I might give another one of his books a chance.
This is my third book pick for my literary celebration of Black History Month 2018. READ my review of Gabrielle Union's We're Going to Need More Wine and Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing

February 20, 2018

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward | Book Review

The African American family at the center of Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing is broken and hurt in many different ways. Pop, the family's patriarch, is burdened by a secret from his time in prison even as he tries to be present for his grandkids and his dying wife. She's stuck in the bedroom slowly surrendering to cancer that her grandson Jojo says has "...dried her up and hollowed her out the way the sun and the air do water oaks." Jojo's thirteen, mature for his age and saddled with responsibility of caring for his baby sister Kayla but he's still a child. His mom is scattered, a selfish, drug addict who's so blindly intoxicated by feelings for Michael that she numbs herself to everything that signals their incompatibility including the hurt his racist family has inflicted upon hers. She and Jojo take turns narrating Sing, Unburied, Sing, leading us on a journey through their world where the dead speak and the earth is alive.

I discovered the author Jesmyn Ward via a promotional email from Simon & Schuster which I unwittingly signed up for after purchasing Gabrielle Union's We're Going to Need More Wine. The book title and its cover art displayed in the email caught my attention so I did a little online research ordered this title and Salvage the Bones. Jesmyn displays an acute awareness of America's racial history, of small town life, the complexity of human existence. Her writing is lyrical and has an entrancing old school flavor. She's a great storyteller. I'm pleased with Sing, Unburied, Sing but not ecstatic about the tale itself. Regardless, Jesmyn Ward gives off the aura of an author destined for greater things and I'll undoubtedly be keeping up with her literary offerings.
This is my second book pick for my literary celebration of Black History Month 2018. Read the review of my first book pick, Gabrielle Union's We're Going to Need More Wine. Catch up on last year's selection HERE

February 17, 2018

We're Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union | Book Review

It wasn't until January of 2017 that I paid attention to BET's TV series Being Mary Jane. My cousins were surfing Netflix for entertainment options while I read a novel on the living room couch that first week of January. I fell asleep while reading and when I woke up Gabrielle Union was on the screen looking gorgeous, bourgeois and pissed off. She was mad at an equally gorgeous man, the actor Omar Hardwick. They seemed to have been arguing then she reminded him that she had asked him to fix the pool lights a long time ago yet he still hadn't done it. She was looking at the dimly lit pool through the floor-to-ceiling windows of her gorgeous home. Omar Hardwick walks out, dives into the pool fully clothed then using powerful strokes he swims gracefully to the other end of the pool. He fixes the pool light, swims back towards the beautiful, no longer irate goddess, and emerges out of the pool completely soaked. His white shirt was now skintight and translucent, his mouth slightly agape so he could catch his breath. This hot muscular god was standing in front of this goddess wordlessly asking her if there was any other way she wanted him to prove that his love for her is real. I was wide awake now and completely sold on Being Mary Jane. Immediately I got the chance I binged all the episodes available on Netflix and then when the new season began later that year I watched it week after week. I discovered the song Mary Jane by Alanis Morissette via the show and I bought it on iTunes. I was confused and shocked at the season 4 cliffhanger finale and then disappointed to learn BET had chosen to end the series and would wrap up the storylines with a two hour movie. It was on Instagram that I saw Gabrielle's video announcing that she was now an author and that fans could get signed copies. I hurried to Simon & Schuster, followed the instructions and eventually got my "Signed First Edition" copy. In conclusion, I've loved Gabrielle Union since I first saw her in Bring It On.

We're Going to Need More Wine is a stellar collection of essays that spans over four decades of Gabrielle's life. She begins with her family's upward move from Omaha, Nebraska to Pleasanton, California and then dives right in with her early memory of a third-grade classmate calling her "N-word Nickie". She fearlessly covers topics like masturbation, virginity loss, teenage sex and abortion, rape, cheating, colorism in her life and in the black community at large etcetera. She opens up about feeling unpretty because of her skin color, her struggle with black hair, her negro nose, interracial relationships and all the frogs she kissed before getting to her Prince, Dwayne Wade. In the book she recommends the movie Splendor in the Grass starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty. It's a good one so find it and watch it. I was able to rent it on Amazon Video.

I enjoyed this book a lot. I also love its title too. It's one of those "I wish I had thought of that" kinda book titles. I can't tell you how many memoir galleys I've turned down or how many I've accepted and just been unable to get through. Memoirs seem to be a hit or miss. Sometimes they are stilted other times they're boring so I've sort of given up on them except when the spirit moves me to take a chance like it did with this book. We're Going to Need More Wine is so entertaining. Gabrielle is humorous, raw and honest in a way that I hope to be someday. I'm impressed and inspired. You should read this.
This is my first book pick for my literary celebration of Black History Month. Catch up on last year's selection HERE.

February 16, 2018

Black History Month 2018 Book Picks | Incessant Scribble

Another year = Another Black History Month = Another month of celebrating books by black authors! If this is your first time visiting this blog catch up on my inaugural bookish celebration of Black History Month HERE. I originally intended to have four book picks for every celebration of Black History Month but I almost didn't make it this year. In fact I'm not even in the clear yet until I finish my fourth book. Here are my book picks for February 2018:

1) We're Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
2) Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
3) Drown by Junot Diaz
4) Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin

I finished reading the first three books in January but I was too exhausted to put together any words decent enough to be tagged a book review. I even considered postponing my reading of Baldwin because I was eager to get started on We the Animals by Justin Torres (I finished it last week. It's awesome!) and Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris (I'm four pages deep). However, all the social media excitement about the Black Panther movie and Yara Shahidi's birthday post on Instagram about reading Baldwin books galvanized me and I'm going to try to finish my first ever Baldwin book within the next 12 days. Right now I need to go put together three book reviews. Stay Tuned. 

January 01, 2018

My Year in Books | Incessant Scribble 2017

If one meme could sum up my life in 2017 it would be the Kylie Jenner one where she talks about a year of realizing stuff. I literally realized so much stuff in the year 2017. Some of it was good and some of it was bad. I moved out of my parents house permanently in January to a city five hours away so I could work full time. It has been a lot of work but I'm really grateful for every experience and every blessing that came my way in 2017.

I had always imagined that after I'm done with grad school I would have a lot of time to read all the books I've ever wanted to read. My resolution for 2017 was to review at least two books every month and at the time I felt it was a very achievable goal. However, I only reviewed nine books on this platform even though I read fourteen books in all. That's roughly one book a month so I did achieve my minimum expectations for myself which is great considering the kind of year 2017 was for me. One of the reasons my book count is low this year is because I abandoned a good number of books midway! Let me use lists to explain.

Books I READ in 2017
1) Voice of America by E. C. Osondu
2) Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo
3) The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
4) The Mothers by Brit Bennett
5) Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
6) Ruby by Cynthia Bond
7) What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
8) Eyo by Abidemi Sanusi
9) Yellow-Yellow by Kaine Agary [Didn't review]
10) The Day Ends Like Any Day by Timothy Ogene [Didn't review]
11) How to Make Lemonade by Beyonce Knowles-Carter [Didn't Review]
12) Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire (Poetry) [Didn't review]
13) Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman [Didn't review]
14) The Caine Prize for African Writing 2017 Anthology

Books I ABANDONED Midread in 2017
1) Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
2) When We Speak of Nothing by Olumide Popoola
3) Season of Crimson Blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
4) The Famished Road by Ben Okri
5) Stock Investing for Dummies by Paul Mladjenovic
5) How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu
6) Gratitude in Low Voices by Dawit Gebremichael Habte
7) Resemblance by Afolabi Opanubi
8) Unstoppable: Challenge Accepted Volume 1 by Tariku Bogale

Here are a few words on the five books I was unable to review earlier this year:

Yellow-Yellow by Kaine Agary is about a girl called Yellow-Yellow, the only child of a single mother. Her mother has dreams of her going to school and rising out of poverty and does everything in her power to make sure her daughter has an education. Does Yellow-Yellow want those same things? The last forty pages gave me anxiety. This girl who had grown up in squalor and had been handed great opportunities seemed like she was about to squander them because of fleshly desires. After I read the last page I just stared at it for a few minutes and then I shut the book and sat in silence. I like this novel. I hate, hate, hate the book cover art on my copy published by "Dtalkshop" in Lagos, Nigeria. It's so ugly! Whoever approved it for publishing should be suspended. That person and "CLAM" who's credited with "designing" the cover.

The Day Ends Like Any Day by Timothy Ogene was a good read but somehow I couldn't find the words to review it and I really, really wanted to. Ogene writes with tremendous skill and I savored his words. The novel is about a young boy who's from a poor background and never quite seems destined to lift himself from all of that. He's also harboring same sex attractions deep inside. He goes to college and meets a boy but... I was impressed with Ogene at the beginning but then the novel became foggy with big words and big thoughts. Maybe it's just me. Get yourself a copy.

How to Make Lemonade by Beyonce Knowles-Carter is a beautiful work of art that chronicles the Lemonade album in its entirety. It's a coffee table book with lots of photos interlaced with lyrics and poetry. Its foreword, written by the amazing Michael Eric Dyson, is a gift in itself, a delightful read wholly befitting for a work of this calibre and magnitude. While I waited for my copy to arrive this unboxing video by Kalen Allen had me laughing out loud. My copy is No. 2254. How to Make Lemonade is a treasure.

Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire is beautiful. Beau. tiful. This is the first book of poetry that I've ever bought and it's worth it. I discovered Warsan Shire through Beyonce's monumental visual album, LEMONADE. Warsan's poetry is airy and pretty at times but also really dark and deep. I love it a lot. You should read this collection of poetry. It's really tiny collection too about the size of a pamphlet.

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman is my pick for BEST BOOK I READ IN 2017! It's so deep and humourous and sexual and well written and poetic and generous. It's a tale about a seventeen years old boy whose dad hosts graduates every summer. Elio is deeply, deeply infatuated with their newest guest, Oliver, and he spends a lot of the novel pinning for him then... You should read this.

That Ladies and Gentlemen was my year in books! I'm currently reading Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward and it's so good. So good. I'm on page 47 as at the time of this post. I want to read it greedily but I also want to take my time with it. I just discovered last night that it was one of Barack Obama's Best Books of 2017! Obama and I have similar tastes in books LOL :P

New Year Resolutions for 2018
1) Return back to reading diversely - For quite a while I've been focused on blogging about books by African authors and then I expanded to African-American authors. Henceforth I'm going to go back to reading the way I read before all of this extra stuff. I'll read everything and anything I find interesting :)

2) I'll drop a book if I don't find it interesting - I'm done struggling through bad prose just so I can say I've read a certain author or to increase my count of the number of African countries I've read from or to increase my book review count in general. If I buy a book and I start reading it and it's difficult to get through I'll drop it like it's hot and move on to the next book on my shelf. There are way too many novels out there to waste time on one. It makes me sad to imagine all the books I'll never ever read.

Have a WONDER-FULL, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! May 2018 be everything you hope it will be!