Speechless for literature / Rootless back home

an abstract painting of swirled beings massed before a performer, lifting a shirt up to reveal white underdrawers and a belly
painting by Yemisi Aribisala

Today: Yemisi Aribisala, writer, editor, essayist, painter, and author of Longthroat Memoirs, and Brian Hioe, Taipei-based editor, translator, activist, DJ, and co-founder of New Bloom.

Issue No. 5

How to Sell Your Book With Your Belly Button
Yemisi Aribisala

'River of Blood', My Ancestral Home
Brian Hioe

How to Sell Your Book with Your Belly Button

by Yemisi Aribisala

The Etisalat Prize for Literature fund was launched at The Wheatbaker hotel in Lagos on a humid night in June 2013. The dinner setting was laid out in the hotel grounds—outside, curiously, where it was dark enough to draw your sight in thirst for the lights across Lagoon waters, rather than inside, in air-conditioned rooms sans mosquitoes. A peculiar choice for these high-powered people of letters, a slightly edgy social group. 

My publisher had asked me to go and sit next to Ellah Wakatama Allfrey OBE, a highly-placed scholar and literary figure, and onetime Booker Prize judge. I asked her why. It would be difficult enough to manage this. All the Who’s Who of the Nigerian literary scene seemed to be there that night, feeling their way in the dark, and I would have to push, smile, and slither to get to sit right next to Ms. Allfrey. She replied that Allfrey was editing a non-fiction compilation, and I ought to be in it, meaning by this the 2016 publication called Safe House: Explorations in Creative Non-fiction. I postscripted her words in my head with "by any means possible." I was ambushed by this clear prescription to ingratiate myself with Allfrey. It would help to sell my upcoming book, my publisher said. My first book. 

It’s a paywall, but a small one

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