June 17, 2009

Of Earth ... Barks and Topography

Nnenna Okore, the talented and internationally acclaimed sculptor and installation artist, returns to Nigeria to hold her first major art exhibition beginning June 20th, 4pm, at the Goethe Institut in Lagos. After a successful series of exhibitions at galleries in the US and the UK, the Assistant Professor of Art at North Park University, Chicago will bring her vibrant and constructive approach to sculptural and installation art to a keen Nigerian art audience. The exhibition will be opened by her former professor and mentor at the University of Nsukka and famed art sculptor in his own right El Anatsui.

Nnenna often uses materials found in urban environments. Her artworks reflect the way that natural and man-made materials evolve, decay and transform, while other pieces can take on the character and flowing shape of traditional woven cloths or elements of nature. She has received several awards and residencies worldwide, and has been exhibited in several prestigious galleries and museums including the Museum of Art and Design, New York and the October Gallery, London. The German Cultural center, the Goethe Institut are her hosts for this show presented by Kachifo Limited, publishers of Farafina Books.

This event is sponsored by DANA AIR and proudly supported by FARAFINA.

The show runs at the Goethe Institut from June 20th until July 10th.

Learn more about this artist by logging on to www.nnennaokore.com

This post in its full form was provided by Kachifo Limited

June 07, 2009

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga | Book Review

The buzz surrounding Aravind Adiga’s 2008 Man Booker prize grabbing debut novel, The White Tiger, has been enormous and not without reason. The White Tiger is a fantastic story, narrated brilliantly by an amoral Indian servant who murders his master, makes off with a large sum of money and sets up a business that grows to become worth many more times the sum he “borrowed”. Local tradition demands that anyone telling a story must pray to a Higher Power, in Balram’s words “kiss arse”, and so he takes a moment to kiss the arses of the 36,000,004 gods Christians, Hindus and Muslims have between them before he begins his dark story.

At first Munna Balram , the protagonist, sounds like a servant who has discovered he can write and the first few pages don’t hook. He tells his story in seven nights via letters addressed to the Premier of China. He is brought up in “the darkness”, one of the two sides of India. It’s the side of India mired in poverty and far from the glitz of the big cities suffused with the wealth from the outsourced American companies. Here children dream to be bus conductors dressed in smart khaki uniforms with silver whistles; men struggle to feed large families with meager wages, and local politicians rig election after election, returning again and again with hollow promises and overtaxing the subservient masses.

Balram is christened White Tiger during a surprise school inspection, for his singular academic aptitude despite the decay and inefficiency of the local school system. He is forced to stop schooling by his brash, calculating grandmother but he never stops learning about life. Slowly but gradually he figures out why the impoverished masses never get out of the ‘Rooster coop’- the rat race, even as his disgust and discomfort with the life he lives now and the limited future ahead of him builds up.

He hires himself out as a driver to Ashok, a young man fresh from America and said to be ‘soft’ in the head because his American ways are ill-suited for the jungle he has returned to. Ashok is trusting and fickle; the weakest link in a family of shrewd and ruthless landlords and it’s his throat Balram slits on their way to bribe politicians. Balram in effect becomes that rare person in multitudes who break away from the mental shackles that bind the typical, unambitious, arse kissing, Indian servant to the same pathetic pattern of birth, poverty and death.

The White Tiger shows India throat deep in the corruption and moral decay that is pervasive in third world countries. Adiga brings the experience and skill that made him a seasoned correspondent for Time Magazine into his story telling. Balram is a voice for the masses stuck down in the impenetrable darkness of India's slums, making The White Tiger evoking and unforgettable. Adiga’s fresh voice and style make him one of the White Tigers of literature, that rare literary talent with a fresh voice and a stirring first novel.

[Image via FictionWritersReview]

June 04, 2009

FiledBy - Online Marketing Platform for Authors

Chances are you haven't heard of FiledBy. When I read the email from the company, my first thought was - 'It's "Facebook for Writers!"', a site where published and unpublished writers can socialize, network and share non-plagiarizable ideas. FiledBy, Inc is a "digital marketing company providing membership sites, web tools and community building solutions to content Creators - authors, writers, illustrators and photographers – and their fans." Here authors can create profiles, put up book signing dates, book reading dates and venues, blog and bookseller links and even promote their upcoming books. It's a pleasant concept.

If you search for big name authors like Stephen King, JK Rowling and John Grisham, a profile page with a biography, a list of their titles with "Buy It" links next to them comes up. Sometimes there's a picture. There's a readers list, which is to FiledBy what followers is to Blogger, and there's also a "Rate this Person" box. You're probably wondering if the profile pages of these big names were created by the authors themselves or if they are as fictitious as those celebrity accounts we find on social networking sites. That's why on the right hand side of the page there's a tab with "Are you this Author?" written on it. That eliminates the question of members of the public creating fake profiles.

If you search for big name authors from the African continent such as Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Adichie, Wole Soyinka, Sefi Atta, Chris Abani and Jude Dibia, a corresponding profile page opens. There's no photo and no biography. In it's place there's a tiny paragraph that begins with "Are you this person? If so, join now to enhance your books and much more. Merge you listings into one account, update this bio, manage your books, add links and much more." Their books are then listed below with a "Buy It" link next to each one.

FiledBy's homepage reminds me of the iPod software, iTunes while some of its features remind me of Shelfari. The site has that "air" of one desperately in need of traffic which might be because it restricts itself to authors published in the U.S.A and Canada. Facebook isn't what it is today because Zuckerberg restricted it to Harvard students. The name should be reviewed because FiledBy sounds like something you'd christen a networking site for secretaries. It's site design isn't appealing and its content and provision for its members can be better refined. That's enough to make internet users hop other sites. True, anything too flashy or busy will repel older authors and make FiledBy seem less business-like but there are ways those two can be made to go together to make FiledBy come alive. In the meantime I'll keep my fingers crossed for a "Facebook for Writers".