BLAA’s Literature Today series takes a look at Africa and its acclaimed writers


Launched in 2020 as a platform for contemporary writers, the Literatura Hoy series returns to Bogotá’s largest public library, Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango (BLAA), with a focus on African voices and works of the Tanzanian Nobel Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah (born 1948). Gurnah received the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature for his 10 novels, including Paradise, Pilgrim’s Way, By the Sea and Afterlives. He is Professor Emeritus of English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent.

The guest author responsible for moderating the various interviews is Gilbert Shang Ndi, from Cameroon, and holder of a doctorate in comparative literature from the University of Bayreuth (Germany). Shang Ndi specializes in the relations between African and Latin American literature.

For this second edition of Literatura Hoy, Shang Ndi raises two central ideas that started from two questions that guided his selection of participating writers. The first concerns the relationship between the two territories, mediated by what the Nigerian author and feminist Chimamanda N. Adichie calls “the danger of the single story”. The second idea is the recognition of the global factors that unite Africa and Latin America, such as: colonization, slavery, independence, segregation, foreign overexploitation of raw materials and their consequences, political dictatorships and the search for happiness in the midst of tragedy. “The construction of spaces to tell the story with our own voice, our resilience, are elements that unite two continents and that must be faced together,” says Shang Ndi.

Below is a list of the seven interviews that are part of the cycle, and available online from November 27 on BLAA’s YouTube channel Banrepcultural YouTube channel.

1. What is the object of literature today? / Gilbert Shang Ndi in conversation with Patrick Chamoiseau

2. Literature, like love, are forms of resistance / Gilbert Shang Ndi in conversation with Lebogang Mashile

3. To write is to recognize our space in the world / Gilbert Shang Ndi talks with Tsitsi Dangarembga

4. Poetry is a form of activism / Gilbert Shang Ndi in conversation with Susan Kiguli

5. Poetry is a commitment for life / Gilbert Shang Ndi in conversation with Joyce Ashuntantang

6. Writing about the Congo is talking about globalized suffering / Gilbert Shang Ndi talks with Jean Bofane

7. Art, like a street or a market, overflows all categorization / Gilbert Shang Ndi talks with Biyi Bandele


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