Nii Ayikwei Parkes’ newest book, a short story collection The City Will Love You, is almost here. You can lend your hand to get this book out to the reading public.
Nii Ayikwei Parkes isn’t a new name in the world of African writing. His début novel, Tail of the Blue Bird (our review), was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize 2010 and has since been translated into Dutch, Italian, Spanish, German, Catalan and Japanese. The French translation of the novel won the 2014 Prix Baudelaire, Prix Mahogany and Prix Laure Bataillon. His poetry includes eyes of a boy, lips of a man (1999), M is for Madrigal: Seven Poems (2004), and The Makings of You (2010).
The Accra based writer and poet’s newest project is a short story collection that he calls The City Will Love You. This book has been described thus;
The stories in The City Will Love You can only happen in a bustling city environment. The collection opens with a piece of flash fiction that captures the realities of economic migration in West Africa in the late 1970s/early 1980s. In ‘Socks Ball’ a group of football-obsessed boys grapple with coming of age in Accra, robbed of the certainties of youth and imprisoned by an imposed language. A young Kenyan man takes very organic revenge on racist London neighbours in ‘Scotch Bonnets’. Tap dance, distilled via Nicholas Brothers videos on Betamax, becomes a means to escape hunger during the 1983 Sahel drought in ‘The First Shampoo Hair Show’. In ‘The Orange Story’ a filmmaker roots the beginnings of her craft in an affair of her part-Indian father’s. A well-educated Ghanaian migrant in South London wrestles with the decision to tell his police girlfriend that his papers are false in ‘When We Were We’. ‘Whatever Song the Drum’ explores – through flashbacks – the dilemma of a young lawyer in Abidjan called upon to defend a gay classmate. In ‘Momentum’ a street porter plans to use her knowledge of physics to pre-emptively protect her younger sister from a rapist. ‘Wood’ recounts the unexpected return of an uncle presumed dead in Monrovia during the Liberian civil war. In ‘Karl’s Gold’ a family secret haunts a young woman on the verge of sexual discovery; and ‘La Bodega’ explores African students’ experience of racism in 1990s Toulouse.
Even as the book is set to become yet another classic, the Ghanaian writer and poet has had to go with a publisher that crowdfunds for its projects. He explains why in this video below.
If you want to support Nii there are several categories that fit your pocket from 10 pounds to 1,000 pounds. Here are the categories of the contributions and the benefits that come to you.
- UK£10 – Ebook and your name in the back of the book
- UK£25 – A first edition of the hardback plus the ebook and your name in the back of the book.
- UK£35 – A signed first edition of the hardback plus the ebook and your name in the back of the book.
- UK£50 – A menu of dishes and drinks inspired by the stories in the book, a signed first edition of the hardback plus the ebook and your name in the back of the book.
- UK£60 – A copy of Tail of the Blue Bird and The Makings of You by Nii, a first signed edition of the hardback plus the ebook and your name in the back of the book.
- UK£100 – A signed limited edition print of the cover art, as designed by Inua Ellams, plus a signed first edition of the hardback plus the ebook and your name in the back of the book.
- UK£250 – An invitation to dinner with a menu based on food from the stories , plus a signed first edition of the hardback plus the ebook and your name in the back of the book.
- UK£350 – Nii will visit you and do a reading in your living room, followed by discussions around the themes of the stories (Travel not included), a signed first edition of the hardback plus the ebook and your name in the back of the book.
- UK£1,000 – A special thank you printed in at the front of the book, plus a limited edition art print by Inua Ellams, ten signed first editions of the hardback, and ten ebooks.