Wednesday, August 1, 2012

African Lives: An Anthology of Memoirs and Autobiographies

This is the first crowd-funding project I've ever championed, because (1) I've been dying to have such a book published, and (2) funders get chocolate!

African Lives: An Anthology of Memoirs and Autobiographies: African Lives is the first anthology to showcase memoirs from across Africa. Your help with permission fees will make this the best book possible.

The first book of its kind
As far as I know, no one has ever before published an anthology that brings
together a collection of African authors — men and women of all ethnic groups,
born and raised on the continent — telling the stories of their own lives in
their own words.
It’s not because there’s any lack of material. Some African memoirs are famous, like Ak√©: The Years of Childhood by Wole Soyinka, The Dark Child by Camara Laye, and No Easy Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. Many more are just as dramatic and well-written, yet hardy known.
Why hasn’t a book like this appeared before?
One reason is permission fees. Some works are out of copyright and can be
reprinted for free, but the rights to many others are held by publishers,
agents, or the authors themselves. In some cases it’s necessary to pay three
separate fees for the US, the Commonwealth, and the rest of the world.
It’s a lot of work to chase down permissions. In one case I followed a trail
from Heinemann (the original publisher) to Pearson to Allison & Busby to
W.H. Allen to Virgin Books to Random House. And it’s expensive. I would also
like to translate sections of three memoirs that have never appeared in
My publisher has generously offered a grant toward the cost of permissions,
and I am adding my entire advance for the book. But that still leaves an
estimated $3,000 for me to raise.
If you're interested in Africa...
If you’re interested in Africa, or in memoir, or if you’re just an
adventurous reader, I hope you’ll want to support this project — and I hope
you’ll want to read the book for yourself.
Whether or not I reach my goal, you will get a modest reward for your
generosity. And you will know that you’re doing your part to bring the voices
of some amazing African writers to light.

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