Ben Okri will headline Berlin’s African Book Festival 2019. The festival with the theme “Transitioning from Migration“ is in its second year.
In April, African writers met in Berlin for the African Book Festival 2018, the first of its kind in the European city. That event organised by the InterKontinental and curated by Olumide Popoola, looked at transnationalism and migration in a more literary sense of “keeping in motion”.
The festival featured some of the biggest writing talents from Africa working today like Brian Chikwava, Jude Dibia, Bernardine Evaristo, Anita Djafari, Helon Habila, Elnathan John, Nick Makoha, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Niq Mhlongo, Mukoma Wa Ngugi, Chinelo Okparanta, Musa Okwonga, Yewande Omotoso, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Leye Adenle, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Minna Salami, Chika Unigwe, and Zukiswa Wanner. The festival headliner was Nigerian author and publisher Chris Abani.
On September 25, the curator for the 2019 edition of the festival Zimbabwean author and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga was announced. Dangarembga burst onto the African literary scene in 1988 with her debut novel Nervous Conditions focusing on the story of a Shona family in post-colonial Rhodesia during the 1960s. The book was followed by The Book of Not in 2006 and then the third in the trilogy This Mournable Body this year.
The team organising the festival gave have announced the festival headliner and it is Booker Prize winner Ben Okri. The Nigerian novelist and poet, considered one of the most influential post-colonial writers, is often compared to Salman Rushdie and Gabriel García Márquez. His work seems to defy categorisation as it bears features of Post-Modernism, Yoruba folklore, spiritual as well as magical realism and existentialism.
Okri‘s most prominent work is The Famished Road which was awarded the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1991; this book was the first in a trilogy that was followed by Songs of Enchantment (1994) and Infinite Riches (1998).
At this festival Okri will be presenting his newest novel The Freedom Artist (Head of Zeus) a penetrating examination of how freedom is threatened in a post-truth society.
Another reason not to miss the African Book Festival in Berlin next April.