For anyone interested in literature, and literary development, this is a good time to be alive, not just because of the quality of output and the zeal of the participants, but also because of the presence of new media and the dynamism it has allowed for the production of new forms, and new ways of expression. We have a new generation of writers doing great things in the face of tremendous odds. We are doing well. Last year’s Caine Prize had four out of five Nigerians (Five writers of Nigerian descent, if you consider Pede Hollist). Teju Cole, Chimamanda Adichie, Chika Unigwe, Igoni Barrett are doing great out there, and new ones are coming up behind them: Emmanuel Iduma, Dami Ajayi, Ukamaka Olisakwe, Ayodele Olofintuade, etc. The Booker also has Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo, who might as well win it. I think we’re doing well.
I hope, of course, that new media eventually gets its pride of place in the mainstream of literary appraisal. It already does well in consumption and reach. Until the Booker, the NLNG, the Orange, or any other major prize rewards someone whose platform is mainly online, then we haven’t reached there yet. I don’t advocate for the death of the book, just like inventors of the automobile didn’t go ahead and shoot all the horses. But judges of prizes need to start looking at the quality of production in the new media, and begin to pay attention to them. It is the future. We may as well get used to it.
From an interview I had with Nwachukwu Egbunike of Global Voices, a few days ago, in which I discussed among other things, writing in indigenous language, my contribution to the TweetYoruba Project, and the state of writing in the world today.
Excerpts from the interview made it into Andrew Sullivan’s blog, discussing writing and other matters.