by Akumbu Uche
Hello bibliophiles, here is a list of five writers I’m keeping my eyes on this year (and why I think you should do the same):
- Jekwu Anyaegbuna
Forget art for art’s sake, it used to be that literature’s purpose was to serve as a code of conduct for society. Aesop’s Fables (or Akukọ ifo), anyone?
Whether depicting rural village life or Lagos-style hustling, there is no denying that morality lessons feature prominently in the Commonwealth Prize winner’s work however, it is worth noting that he spikes his tales with so much hilarity and inventive language they can’t be mistaken for sermons.
As Anyaebuna gets set to make his debut as a novelist, I’m pretty sure we have a new sage amongst us.
If ever I get fired, be sure my boss caught me laughing uproariously while reading Literati: Satires on Nigerian Life.
The chatty blog is the online diary of Esco, an anonymous 30-something, Lagos-bred, UK-educated, Igbo-speaking male Nigerian; lover of American R&B/Rap music, admirer of Nollywood belles and firm believer in the gospel that the world can be changed “through satire and blog literature.” (“Satire is the new attire”, as he likes to say)
He recently announced plans to publish his memoirs in book form. Could this also be the year he reveals his identity?
- James Franco
You may know him from Hollywood movies like Eat Pray Love, The Spider-Man Trilogy and 127 Hours, but with two published books – Palo Alto (short stories) and Strongest of the Litter (poetry) – under his belt, the actor is keen to be recognized as a player in the literary world, too.
Unfortunately, his latest poem, Obama in Asheville (commissioned in honour of the 2013 US presidential inauguration) has been subjected to a lot of ridicule criticism; while it’s not the most coherent of verses, lines like How to write about a man written about endlessly/…/How to write so that it’s not just for the converted suggest the agony of a struggling artist anxious to be taken seriously.
With a new poetry collection, Directing Herbert White, in the pipelines, who knows, Franco may soon be nominated for a Pulitzer.
- Marina Keegan (1989-2012)
Before her death in a car accident last May, Marina Keegan was a playwright, journalist and social activist.
If her essay, The Opposite of Loneliness and short story, Cold Pastoral – both written in fluid and graceful prose (and published posthumously) – are any indication, her writing was informed not just by talent but by soul-searching sincerity and innate wisdom.
I have a hunch more of her creative legacy will be shared with us this year.
- Simon Rich
I can’t wait to get my hands on The Last Girlfriend on Earth: And Other Stories, the latest offering from Simon Rich, an SNL staff writer and regular contributor to The New Yorker’s Shouts & Murmurs column.
His pieces, usually short, are characterized by a quirky and witty style but don’t let the oddball humour fool you. Stories like Unprotected, in which he imagines what it’s like to be a condom and Sell Out, in which he makes jest of himself, may be enjoyable, easy reads but they are ultimately critiques of the cultural values and attitudes of present-day youth.