May 1 (GIN) – Prize-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is hoping to break down some stereotypes at the upcoming World Voices Festival sponsored by the PEN America free expression group.
Chimamanda is the co-curator in the festival which starts from May 4. The author of Purple Hisbiscus, her first book; Half of a Yellow Sun (2006) and Americanah (2013), she warns of the “danger of a single story” – the idea that people living in certain areas of the world all have one kind of experience.
In the hopes of winning a wider audience for African writers, she’s chosen Nigerian-American author Teju Cole, author of The White Savior Industrial Complex, and Cameroonian writer Achille Mbembe, among others. “It was important to get people who actually live on the continent, along with those who have left,” she told the Wall St Journal from her part-time home in Columbia, Maryland.
A roster of 100 writers from 30 countries will take part in this year’s Africa program. Other authors at this year’s festival themed “On Africa” include Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Ghanaian-born Jamaican poet Kwame Dawes, Senegalese screenwriter Boubacar Boris Diop, and South African visual activist Zanele Muholi.
World Voices was launched eleven years ago in the wake of 9/11 to combat “American cultural isolationism.” The annual literary extravaganza adopted a new curatorial approach for its 2015 edition which is taking place under the theme “On Africa.”
This year’s event spotlights the new and old schools of creative writing arising from across the continent with a lineup of workshops, readings, and conversations focusing on migration, memory and imagination, the importance of bearing witness, the role of literature in Africa’s gay rights movement and the future of queer creative communities across Africa and its diaspora.
“Focusing on the African continent is an ambitious undertaking,” said Laszlo Jakab Orsós, festival director. “We cannot, in one week-long Festival, even come close to presenting the entirety of the riveting literary landscapes throughout Africa, but we’re excited to present a select group of writers and artists who, I believe, will inspire New York audiences with their uncompromising and brilliant work. It’s our privilege to put the spotlight on these writers, and it is my hope that they will challenge all of us to create art that is bravely subversive and relevant to our time.”
The 11th annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature will take place in various locations throughout NYC from May 4-10. Visit the official PEN World Voices Festival website for more information on the schedule of events and the full list of festival participants. w/pix of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi