Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stories of Neglected History

The overall winner of this year's Commonwealth Writer's Prize is African-Canadian novelist Lawrence Hill for The Book of Negroes while the first novel award went to Tahmima Anam for A Golden Age.

Hill (which is, incidentally called Someone Knows My Name in the US for political correctness!*) said of his novel :
The Book of Negroes dramatises the all but forgotten story of 18th Century Africans forced into slavery in the Americas, liberated after many years and miraculously returned to the mother continent in the same lifetime. It was both intimidating and exhilarating to write the novel in the voice of an 18th Century African woman, Aminata. I thought of her as my own daughter and gave her the name of my eldest child, in order to love her sufficiently to lift her off the page.
You can listen to chapter 1 of the novel here.

Tahmima Anam is the first ever Bangladeshi author to win the prize. She says she wrote A Golden Age, because she wanted the story of the Bangladesh war to reach an international audience :
It is a story of great tragedy, but also represents a moment of hope and possibility for my sometimes troubled country.
her book is described by the judges as :
...the first major fictional account in English of the creation of Bangladesh. ... Housewife, widow, and mother, Rehana Haque, exemplifies the power of the individual to resist and ultimately prevail against the ravages of war. The assured and lyrical prose evokes the tumultuous birthing of a new nation in an intensely personal family narrative.
You can read an excerpt here.

More about the prize and winners from Lyndsay Irvine in The Guardian.

(* Of which we had another fine example the other day, of course.)

No comments: