Penguin African Writers Series

Penguin Books (South Africa) announced today that it is to launch the Penguin African Writers Series - a list that will include, among others, some of the very best books from the iconic Heinemann African Writers Series, which was established in 1962, as well as new books from fresh African voices.

Chinua Achebe, the prize-winning Nigerian writer and author of the classics Things Fall Apart and The Anthills of Savannah, was the original series editor of the Heinemann list, guiding and developing it for its first ten years.

Penguin is delighted, therefore, and deeply honoured to confirm that Achebe has agreed to take up the position of Editorial Adviser for the Penguin African Writers Series and his own collection Girls at War and Other Stories will be one of the six inaugural books to be published in August 2009.

Says Chinua Achebe, "Africa is a huge continent with a diversity of cultures and languages. Africa is not simple - often people want to simplify it, generalise it, stereotype its people, but Africa is very complex. The world is just starting to get to know Africa. The last five hundred years of European contact with Africa produced a body of literature that presented Africa in a very bad light and now the time has come for Africans to tell their own stories.
"The Penguin African Writers Series will bring a new energy to the publication of African literature. Penguin Books (South Africa) is committed to publishing both established and new voices from all over the African continent to ensure African stories reach a wider global audience.
"This is really what I personally want to see - writers from all over Africa contributing to a definition of themselves, writing ourselves and our stories into history. One of the greatest things literature does is allow us to imagine; to identify with situations and people who live in completely different circumstances, in countries all over the world. Through this series, the creative exploration of those issues and experiences that are unique to the African consciousness will be given a platform, not only throughout Africa, but also to the world beyond its shores.
"Storytelling is a creative component of human experience and in order to share our experiences with the world, we as Africans need to recognise the importance of our own stories. By starting the series on the solid foundations laid by the renowned Heinemann African Writers Series, I am honoured to join Penguin in inviting young and upcoming writers to accept the challenge passed down by celebrated African authors of
earlier decades and to continue to explore, confront and question the realities of life in Africa through their work; challenging Africa's people to lift her to her rightful place among the nations of the world."

Penguin South Africa's CEO Alison Lowry commented, "We are excited by the potential of the Penguin African Writers Series. It is an integral part of our strategy to broaden the range of voices already on our list from across the African continent and make them accessible to all."

The books scheduled to be published in August 09 are:
Girls at War and Other Stories - Chinua Achebe
Hangman's Game - Karen King-Aribisala
Black Sunlight - Dambudzo Marechera
Neighbours - The Story of Murder - Lilia Momple
As the Crow Flies - Veronique Tadjo
Weep Not, Child - Ngugi wa Thiong'o

For further information, or to interview Penguin's CEO Alison Lowry or Publisher Louise Grantham please contact Tracey McDonald on +27 11 327 3550 or tracey.mcdonald@za.penguingroup.com