Thursday, May 13, 2010

“An African memoir unlike any other” is the UK’s most talked about ‘Global Read’

A worldwide campaign that has reached as far as India and Australia reveals today, 13 May, that The Jive Talker, or How to Get a British Passport by Samson Kambalu is the most talked about ‘Global Read’ - a book that changed a reader’s perception of another country or introduced them to a different culture.

 “I am over the moon The Jive Talker or, How to Get a British Passport has won though not really surprised. The fourth world Africa in Malawi where I grew up is one of the most exciting places on earth to live at the moment - wild, unpredictable, savage, untamable, brutally unforgiving... The place is outrageously sovereign, which makes it one of the most beautiful. I feel privileged.

Global Reads was launched by National Book Tokens as part of the campaign to launch its new Gift Card to raise £10,000 for Book Aid International. This would be enough money to distribute 5,000 books across 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. 

The campaign has been supported by a range of high profile celebrities, including Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Michael Palin and Alexander McCall Smith and Sophie Dahl.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and Wild Swans by Jung Chang were closely behind The Jive Talker.

The Jive Talker, or How to Get a British Passport
is a completely original, often subversive book about Samson Kambalu’s childhood in Malawi, a country few are able to pinpoint on a map. As the family moves through a journey from feast to poverty and deprivation, and back to plenty again, the reader is introduced to life in a country in which no dissent is tolerated and where political opponents are 'disappeared'. But this is also a country in which a little boy obsessed with books, girls, Nietzsche, fashion, football and Michael Jackson wins a free education at the Kamuzu Academy ('The Eton of Africa') and grows up to be one of England's most promising young conceptual artists. The Jive Talker opens the door to an Africa that is rarely written about.

Samson Kambalu was born in Malawi in 1975. He holds degrees in Fine Art and Ethnomusicology and is the recipient of several awards for his work “Holy Ball Exercises and Exorcisms”. He lives in London.

Aminatta Forna reviewing The Jive Talker in the Sunday Telegraph describes the book as “an African memoir unlike any other I have read and the reason is this - it is absolutely hilarious and I was crying with laughter... this is a book filled with wonder, humour and hope. It is a magnificent achievement.” 

Marina Lewycka comments that the book “explores the desperation of life in an impoverished African community with great humour and poignancy. Beauty, warmth, laughter and tragedy are all there in the pages of this lovely book.”

The Top 10 Global Reads were:

·    The Jive Talker, Or How to Get a British Passport by Samson Kambalu
·    The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama
·    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
·    Wild Swans by Jung Chang
·    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
·    A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
·    Small Island by Andrea Levy
·    Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh by Helena Norberg-Hodge
·    Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
·    Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

No comments: