The New Gong Publishers marks its publishing debut with two new books: Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa and Other Essays by Adewale Maja-Pearce, and War Games by Dulue Mbachu.
The first consists of 23 essays written over the last 15 years on Africa and things African for Granta magazine, the London Review of Books and Index on Censorship, amongst others.
The second is a novel of a boy’s coming-of-age against the background of the Nigerian-Biafran war. Both are published by The New Gong, an innovative publishing house working out of Lagos, Nigeria which seeks to showcase the best of Nigerian writing in English.
It followed up in June 2006 with two new titles: God of Poetry by Uzor Maxim Uzoatu and Vision Impossible by Isidore Emeka Uzoatu.
The New Gong's first poetry title is a celebration of poetry, wide-ranging in style and themes, revealing the thrilling depths of a rich talent. Vision Impossible captures the climate of fear under military rule in Nigeria, making a mockery of tyrants in soaring prose.
The New Gong basically functions as a cooperative of writers leveraging on their own editorial, managerial and technical skills to run a publishing project to produce quality books. The aim is to set up a reputable publishing house in Nigeria and break the debilitating reliance on foreign publishers.
The hope is to publish the best that is available, and show a way forward after the demise of the likes of Heinemann African Writers’ Series, which did so much to put the continent’s writing on the world map. We have no restrictions in genre. We merely hope to publish the best that is available.
The two books are initially on sale online for $15 each. They represent the first in a restricted list of titles to be published each year.
Here is what the blurbs say:
Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa and Other Essays
‘Ken Saro-Wiwa aroused powerful emotions in his eventful life, and his death by hanging on the orders of General Sani Abacha shook the world. The sainthood of Saro-Wiwa has been promoted in much of the media, but some polemical voices assert that he was more sinner than saint. In the title essay of Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa and Other Essays, Adewale Maja-Pearce strikingly delves beyond the myths into the man in full, warts and all, portraying an ambitious protagonist who initially cultivated powerful friends in the military, in government and in business but ended up tragically through judicial murder engendered by the fratricidal crossfire of the Ogoni struggle. Like its subject, controversy dogged every step of this book, and the publishing was nearly stopped as people took positions without reading a word of it. Now that the book is finally out the public is gifted with the pristine opportunity of dipping into the immense world of Maja-Pearce as he in twenty-three heartfelt essays and reviews illuminates the benighted mores of modern Nigeria, the identity question in South Africa, the evil politics from cape to coast of Africa, and the seminal minds across the world. This book is a treasure, a profound testament.’
(Use this link to buy from amazon.com http://www.amazon. com/exec/obidos/ASIN/9783842102)
‘A tender coming-of-age story forged in the crucible of Biafra, War Games is a relentlessly candid and unsentimental reconstruction of a halcyon world suddenly shattered by hate, flight and strife. For Basil Chekwuchuckwu Odukwe or Cheche, the good life as a rich landlord’s son in northern Nigeria suddenly turns nightmarish as the country descends into civil war. The five-year-old yet to know the meaning of Nigeria’s independence perforce escapes to his rural village of Amafor in the south to start a different life in the shadow of traumatized parents and relatives, war crimes and songs, folksy traditional pastimes and exacting Catholicism. In this haunting and original first novel, Dulue Mbachu adroitly enters into the skull of childhood to tell a compelling human story with remarkable restraint and resonant narrative grace.’
(Use this link to buy from amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/9783842110)
Adewale Maja-Pearce is the author of a number of books, including In My Father’s Country: A Nigerian Journey, Loyalties and Other Stories, How many miles to Babylon?, A Mask Dancing: Nigerian Novelists of the Eighties, and Who’s Afraid of Wole Soyinka? He has also edited The Heinemann Book of African Poetry in English and Wole Soyinka: An Appraisal. He was formerly editor of the Heinemann African Writers’ Series (1986-94), and Africa editor of Index on Censorship (1986-97). He currently lives in Lagos, where he runs YEMAJA, an editorial services agency.
Dulue Mbachu was born in Nigeria in 1961. Since taking a degree in 1983 he has worked as a teacher and journalist. During 23 years as a journalist Mbachu has reported Nigeria for media organizations including Reuters, The Washington Post and Associated Press. His short stories have been published in the magazines BBC Focus on Africa and West Africa. This is his first novel.
Excerpts from the two books are available at our web site www.thenewgong. com. You can also buy the books from the site.