Writings of the general word's body

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wasafiri Reading

Biyi Bandele...
the long
and the short
of it

Seeing a shaven headed Biyi Bandele at Wasafiri’s reading event of 22 November wasn’t all that shocking, as I’d run into him days before, on the 17th, at an Imperial War Museum event about African Soldiers who fought in the World Wars. One has gotten used to Bandele with flowing dreadlocks and seeing him without, takes some getting used to. The author doesn’t know what the fuss is about. He grew the locks while writing his last book, Burma Boy, and now that it’s finished... (a new book in the works? Hmn...)

Wasafiri Magazine launched its 52nd edition with an evening of readings and wine, and the venue was Foyles Bookshop on Charing Cross Road, London. The Magazine asked: “Why do some books make a particular impact on our reading and writing lives? In what ways do they return to us? When, why and how did we first encounter them?” These are the questions posed in the new issue, in which writers and publishers talk about the book that made them. Chaired by Robert Fraser, readers on the night grappled with the same questions after reading from the books that ‘made’ them.

The readers were Maggie Gee (who on learning that Lily Allen is to be a judge of the 2008 Orange Prize, has asked: “Where is the seriousness here?”); Rana Das Gupta (whose talk centred around the fact that he actually doesn’t read novels, though of course he writes them!); Biyi Bandele and Pauline Melville (author of The Ventriloquist’s Tale). Melville started her reading with the line that lured her into writing, the opening of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. I patted myself on the back for recognising it, even before Melville reveal the book and author from whence it was taken.

In the audience: Linton Kwesi-Johnson, Bernadine Evaristo and many more.
Images © MW

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