New Daughters of Africa

AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY OF WRITING BY WOMEN OF AFRICAN DESCENT
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'Some of the short stories will make you hold your breath…'—The Irish Times

Showcasing the work of more than 200 women writers of African descent, this major international collection celebrates their contributions to literature and international culture.

Twenty-five years ago, Margaret Busby’s groundbreaking anthology Daughters of Africa illuminated the ‘silent, forgotten, underrated voices of black women’ (The Washington Post). Published to international acclaim, it was hailed as ‘an extraordinary body of achievement… a vital document of lost history’ (The Sunday Times).

New Daughters of Africa continues that mission for a new generation, bringing together a selection of overlooked artists of the past with fresh and vibrant voices that have emerged from across the globe in the past two decades, from Antigua to Zimbabwe and Angola to the USA. Key figures join popular contemporaries in paying tribute to the heritage that unites them. Each of the pieces in this remarkable collection demonstrates an uplifting sense of sisterhood, honours the strong links that endure from generation to generation, and addresses the common obstacles women writers of colour face as they negotiate issues of race, gender and class, and confront vital matters of independence, freedom and oppression.

Custom, tradition, friendships, sisterhood, romance, sexuality, intersectional feminism, the politics of gender, race, and identity—all and more are explored in this glorious collection  of work from over 200 writers. New Daughters of Africa spans a wealth of genres—autobiography, memoir, oral history, letters, diaries, short stories, novels, poetry, drama, humour, politics, journalism, essays and speeches—to demonstrate the diversity and remarkable literary achievements of black women who remain under-represented, and whose works continue to be under-rated, in world culture today.

Featuring women across the diaspora, New Daughters of Africa illuminates the richness and cultural history of this original continent and its enduring influence, while reflecting our own lives and issues today. Bold and insightful, brilliant in its intimacy and universality, this essential volume honours the talents of African daughters and the inspiring legacy that connects them—and all of us.

Contributors include:

Diane Abbott • Yassmin Abdel-Magied • Leila Aboulela • Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ • Sade Adeniran • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie • Zoe Adjonyoh • Patience Agbabi • Agnès Agboton • Candace Allen • Lisa Allen-Agostini • Ellah Wakatama Allfrey • Andaiye • Harriet Anena • Joan Anim-Addo • Monica Arac de Nyeko • Yemisi Aribisala • Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro • Amma Asante • Michelle Asantewa • Nana Asma’u • Sefi Atta • Ayesha Harruna Attah • Gabeba Baderoon • Yaba Badoe • Yvonne Bailey-Smith • Doreen Baingana • Ellen Banda-Aaku • Angela Barry • Mildred K. Barya • Jackee Budesta Batanda • Simi Bedford • Linda Bellos • Jay Bernard • Marion Bethel • Ama Biney • Jacqueline Bishop • Malorie Blackman • Tanella Boni • Malika Booker • Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond • Beverley Bryan • Akosua Busia • Candice Carty-Williams • Rutendo Chabikwa • Barbara Chase-Riboud • Panashe Chigumadzi • Gabrielle Civil • Maxine Beneba Clarke • Angela Cobbinah • Carolyn Cooper • Juanita Cox • Meta Davis Cumberbatch • Patricia Cumper • Stella Dadzie • Yrsa Daley-Ward • Nana-Ama Danquah • Edwidge Danticat • Nadia Davids • Tjawangwa Dema • Yvonne Denis Rosario •  Anni Domingo • Nah Dove • Edwige Renée Dro • Camille T. Dungy • Anaïs Duplan • Reni Eddo-Lodge • Aida Edemariam • Esi Edugyan • Summer Edward • Yvvette Edwards • Zena Edwards • Safia Elhillo • Zetta Elliott • Nawal El Saadawi • Diana Evans • Bernardine Evaristo • Eve L. Ewing • Deise Faria Nunes • Diana Ferrus • Nikky Finney • Aminatta Forna • Ifeona Fulani • Vangile Gantsho • Roxane Gay • Danielle Legros Georges • Patricia Glinton-Meicholas • Hawa Jande Golakai • Wangui wa Goro • Bonnie Greer • Jane Ulysses Grell • Rachel Eliza Griffiths • Carmen Harris • zakia henderson-brown • Joanne C. Hillhouse • Afua Hirsch • Zita Holbourne • Nalo Hopkinson • Rashidah Ismaili • Naomi Jackson • Sandra Jackson-Opoku • Delia Jarrett-Macauley • Margo Jefferson • Barbara Jenkins • Catherine Johnson • Ethel Irene Kabwato • Elizabeth Keckley • Fatimah Kelleher • Donika Kelly • Adrienne Kennedy • Susan Nalugwa Kiguli • Rosamond S. King • Donu Kogbara • Lauri Kubuitsile • Goretti Kyomuhendo • Beatrice Lamwaka • Patrice Lawrence • Andrea Levy • Lesley Lokko • Karen Lord •  Karen McCarthy Woolf • Ashley Makue • Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi • Reneilwe Malatji • Sarah Ládípọ̀ Manyika • Ros Martin • Lebogang Mashile • Isabella Matambanadzo • NomaVenda Mathiane  • Imbolo Mbue • Maaza Mengiste • Arthenia Bates Millican • Bridget Minamore • Nadifa Mohamed • Natalia Molebatsi • Wame Molefhe • Aja Monet • Sisonke Msimang • Blessing Musariri • Glaydah Namukasa • Marie NDiaye • Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi • Wanjiku wa Ngũgĩ • Ketty Nivyabandi • Elizabeth Nunez • Selina Nwulu • Trifonia Melibea Obono • Nana Oforiatta Ayim • Irenosen Okojie • Nnedi Okorafor • Juliane Okot Bitek •  Chinelo Okparanta • Yewande Omotoso • Makena Onjerika • Chibundu Onuzo • Tess Onwueme • Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor • Louisa Adjoa Parker • Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida • Alake Pilgrim • Winsome Pinnock • Hannah Azieb Pool • Olúmìdé Pópóọlá • Claudia Rankine •  H. Cordelia Ray • Sarah Parker Remond • Florida Ruffin Ridley • Zandria F. Robinson • Zuleica Romay Guerra • Andrea Rosario-Gborie • Leone Ross • Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin • Minna Salami • Marina Salandy-Brown • Sapphire • Noo Saro-Wiwa • Taiye Selasi • Namwali Serpell • Kadija Sesay • Claire Shepherd • Verene A. Shepherd • Warsan Shire • Lola Shoneyin • Dorothea Smartt • Zadie Smith • Adeola Solanke • Celia Sorhaindo • Attillah Springer • Andrea Stuart • SuAndi • Valerie Joan Tagwira • Jennifer Teege • Jean Thévenet • Natasha Trethewey • Novuyo Rosa Tshuma • Hilda J. Twongyeirwe • Chika Unigwe • Yvonne Vera • Phillippa Yaa de Villiers • Kit de Waal • Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw • Effie Waller Smith • Rebecca Walker • Ayeta Anne Wangusa • Zukiswa Wanner • Jesmyn Ward • Verna Allette Wilkins • Charlotte Williams • Sue Woodford-Hollick • Makhosazana Xaba • Tiphanie Yanique

Imani Perry, professor of African-American studies at Princeton University for the Financial Times

The world has changed since the early 1990s. Political economies have morphed, social orders have shifted, and the pantheon of great writers has expanded. However, with the exception of a few internationally renowned authors, black women writers remain woefully under-represented. For this reason, and more, Margaret Busby’s New Daughters of Africa, a companion volume to her earlier anthology, Daughters of Africa (1992) is an important contribution. Busby is well suited to such a project. She is a daughter of Africa, and a mother of diasporic African literature, in the broadest sense. She became the UK’s youngest publisher, and the first black woman in such a position, when she co-founded Allison & Busby in 1967, and she has spent the entirety of her professional life as an active member of literary communities on the African continent and in the Americas. In this remarkable collection, she reminds us of the historic and continued value of forging connections across the boundaries of nation states. Anthologies can read as mere assortment or collection. But their function, particularly when well composed — as is the case with this book — can be much more deliberate. Busby’s choice to organise the writers by generation, rather than region or date of publication, has a powerful effect. From the 18th century to the present, the location of black women across borders — yet always in the winds of political, economic and social orders — emerges. Questions of freedom, autonomy, family, race and social transformation present themselves in generational waves. Thus, with more than 200 contributors, this anthology is also a social and cultural world history. This is a rare case in which writers from the US do not overwhelm the category of “black writers”. But neither does Busby disregard the significance of African-American authors. Rather, she places them in a global community and a vast tradition. Likewise, she questions any static or uncomplicated understanding of blackness, and challenges the marginalisation of black women in our understanding of modernity. Hence, one cannot read this anthology and ever think that their lives were not important, even essential, to understanding global history. In recent years, as a result of generations of social and political struggle, greater attention has been paid to the lot of black women. However, their interior lives continue to be neglected. New Daughters of Africa reminds us that black women writers have not simply been moved about by history, but have been thinkers and artists in the thick of things. Aja Monet, one of the poets of the Black Lives Matter generation, who writes about love and intimacy as a primary aspect of freedom fighting, is on these pages, along with the renowned Egyptian feminist Nawal El Saadawi. There is a historical component, but the collection also offers fascinating insights into the present. While Carolyn Cooper, born in the 1950s, writes about online dating, Anaïs Duplan, a writer born in the 1990s, writes about a contemporary painting that riffs on classic portraiture. There is a dance through generations as well as a confrontation with the current pastiche of globalisation. Perhaps the most potent motif in the collection is the dual sense of displacement and yearning, both for home and for escape. Busby includes the work of widely acclaimed writers such as Toni Morrison, Buchi Emecheta and Edwidge Danticat. But she also includes the words of lesser known but similarly talented writers. To put the lesser known and the widely known writers in communion with one another is to refuse the tendency of the publishing world to exceptionalise black writers. In this way, Busby opens the door wide and allows her readers to witness the conversations that have occurred between black women writers, conversations about culture, love, inheritance and more, without mediation from the powerful institutions of publishing and academia. The effect is marvellous. It is also necessary. Daughters of Africa was groundbreaking for bringing the tradition of black women writers to the fore. This new anthology has an increased urgency. We live in an age when old forms of bigotry are being revived. We also live at a time when there are increasing demands on our attention. It is easy to note only the splashiest debut, or a single voice that speaks for many marginalised people. Busby invites us to slow down, to read through a tradition that will lead us to fall in love with beautiful and insightful writers we might not otherwise encounter, and to be open to a wide variety of forms, themes and authors. I have found myself returning to a phrase of one of the writers in the anthology who was new to me. In her 1993 essay “The Autobiography of an Idea”, Arthenia Bates Millican wrote: “I have kissed the darkness hello. And as I move, I search through that darkness for the most brilliant fight.” This is the calling, and the beauty, of both the old and the new daughters of Africa. New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing, by Women of African Descent, edited by Margaret Busby, Myriad Publishers, RRP£30, 840 pages Imani Perry is professor of African-American studies at Princeton University
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NB Literary Magazine

28 March 2019
This is a beautiful, challenging and triumphant collection of writing that increases our understanding of humanity and entertains royally. There is a danger with any anthology that it has a theme but lacks a heart, even when the content is well written and appropriate to the theme. Not so with New Daughters of Africa, I’m just bowled over by the quality and breadth of contributions here but also the way they coalesce. The writing is, depending on each author’s style, sharp, funny, romantic, confrontational and politically astute. This book has a heart and a sense of purpose and I think it’s fair to say it is important and so relevant for our times. Anyone interested in Africa, gender politics, good storytelling and writing that pushes the boundaries of the form will love this book. As a reader you will probably want to dip in and out of this epic tome; as a reviewer I had the pleasure of reading it from cover to cover, I can tell you it was no chore. This is a full on sensory experience, a stimulation for the brain and for the heart and some of the writing here stirs the blood and twists the gut. The material ranges from poetry to essays, short stories to political tracts, journalism to autobiography, letters and diary entries to drama and oral histories, memoir to speeches. Remarkably diverse material both in genre and approach. There are pieces representative of many generations of African women, from North of the Sahara to the southern tip. From early pieces to twentieth century contributors and then writing by a new younger generation, some of whom are having their voices heard outside of their homeland for the first time. There are over two hundred contributors, writers living and working in Africa, others part to the diaspora, and natives of the US and Europe. Women from different religious and political backgrounds; all with vital, vibrant and meaningful stories to tell. These are stories of simple romance and friendship, of loss and longing, of political import – gender politics, feminism, race and identity – tales of exile, of embracing new countries, slavery and visions of equality, of traditions (customs) and breaking taboos, and of sexuality. There is a sense of sisterhood, a shared experience, these women have connections to all corners of the continent and the world; they address issues such as class, race and gender – oppression, personal freedom, clash of cultures, diversity, independence and religion. I speak of the sisterhood but it’s also clear from this collection how universal these issues, they matter to all of us, to all our societies. This collection opened my eyes in so many ways, to women’s issues and experience, to colour in countries and stories I knew so little about, and many nuances on race and gender. I think I learned something of myself at the same time. The depth of psychological, political, economic and cultural insight here is awe inspiring. There are so many examples of pieces that cut to the intellectual and emotional heart of an issue/story. From lost, or at least neglected, historical works to modern young authors, this collection contains writing of extraordinary beauty, elegance, perception. Popular authors, famous writers, others little known, these are remarkable story tellers whatever the genre. Of course there are highlights, some I didn’t personally enjoy so much, but none that don’t add to the collective wealth of the book. With so many entries it seems almost unfair to pick a few out, which I would usually attempt. There are 800 pages, as I said 200 contributors, some vignettes others more in-depth pieces. New writers such as Chibundu Onuza, Panashe Chigumadzi, Zakia Henderson-Brown. Established author such as Donika Kelly, Afua Hirsch, Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Roxane Gay, Jesmin Ward. Writers from centuries passed; Nana Asmáu, Effie Waller Smith, Meta Davis Cumberbatch. So I’ll restrict the tendency to delve too much into particular writers, here are a few I wasn’t familiar with but who drew my attention. Yasmin Abdel-Magied is a Sudanese-born Australian. A former engineer, now a writer and broadcaster. Eulogy for My Career opens as a reminiscence on childhood and the past when visiting the old family home. Tinged with humour the story gradually becomes a exposition on grief and survival. Elegantly written and poignant. Anais Duplan is a Haitian poet, now living in the US. This from her poem, “I Know This Is No Longer Sustainable,” Etc. “You are too eager to get on with it. You haven’t the blood of the sages. You plaster his face onto your faces. The inherent danger of strangulation…” Selina Nwulu is a London-based writer, poet, and essayist. She was the Young Poet Laureate for London 2015-16. This from The Audacity of Our Skin: “II Hostile, a definition: Bitter; Windrush citizen: here until your skin is no longer needed Cold; migrants sleeping rough will be deported Militant; charter flights, expulsion as a brutal secret in handcuffs Unwilling; women charged for giving birth after the trafficking, after the rape ….” I feel slightly ashamed that I was completely unaware of Margaret Busby’s first anthology Daughters of Africa, published twenty-five years ago. This mammoth follow-up is a magnificent collection and it’s a staggering achievement to have collated and edited the work. This is a book I will keep close and dip into from time to time. I hope it helps to raise the profile of a number of writers whose voices deserve a much bigger audience. Paul Burke 5/5 New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent edited by Margaret Busby Myriad Editions 9781912408009 hbk Mar 2019
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New York Journal of Books

16 May 2019
Here is the book so many have been waiting for. The book to make sense of so many others. New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent follows the original tome, New Daughters of Africa, published 25 years ago to global acclaim. It was deemed a vital document then, and it takes its job just as seriously now, bringing together over 200 female voices of color, an incredible range of experience and backgrounds and perspectives and voices, told in every which way important things can be told: memoir, lecture, poem, letters, diary entries, short stories, essays, political speeches, dialogues, humor, reportage, and even oral history. The topics are just as varied and shine bright lights on the lives of critically underrepresented women of color, and on the contributions of these gifted literary scholars: motherhood, slavery, love, work, immigration, assimilation, friendship, thwarted aspiration, infidelity, racism, marriage, poverty, and on and on. In fact, the only thing that is not varied here is the gloriously even quality of the writing. These are stories for crying and laughing and thinking. They are narratives for understanding, for seeking, for finding, yes, because it is a catalogue of lives that are not shown as much and as consistently as we need them to be. See for yourself. Here is Elizabeth Nunez in “Discovering my Mother”: “Quite accidentally I discovered that my mother read books. I didn’t think she did. I thought her only interests were domestic, all related to her children, her home, her social circles. It turned out, however, that she had read my first novel, When Rocks Dance. I hadn’t expected her to. Years ago, I had left the novel for my father. He never read it. As far as I know, he never read a single one of my eight books. When I found out my mother had read When Rocks Dance, I gave her my next two novels. Beyond the Limbo Silence and Bruised Hibiscus. She read them too and was full of praise for me. I was her favorite author, she said.” And here is Zadie Smith, receiving the Langston Hughes Medal in 2017 with “Speech for Langston”: “I don’t know what I am doing on a list of names that includes James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott and Octavia Butler, but I am so grateful to find myself in their company. Growing up in England, in the eighties, these were some of the writers my mother gave me, to remind me that no country has the power to decide whether or not it will ‘tolerate’ a black child or decide on her true identity, for the black child’s inheritance is borderless and enormous and needs no such external authentication.” And here you have a brave story—for its profundity and complexity, as much as for its beauty— from Chinelo Okparanta. Titled “Trump in the Classroom,” it tells of encountering a disturbing narrative while teaching a writing workshop in a heavily pro-Trump area, to an all-white classroom, save for one student and herself: “In the student’s story, the colony—and all the black people in it—was suddenly set to be destroyed, because a few of the black people had taken to bringing up the issue of slavery. They were still living out the legacy and pain of it—an inherited trauma—despite the fact that this was hundreds of years after. This complaining was getting to be too much for the whites, so the whites had now arrived at a solution: blow up, destroy, obliterate all the dark-skinned people. Banishing them to a malaria-infested colony was no longer enough. Rather, put an end to the legacy of slavery once and for all, so that they would no longer have to listen to complaints, the inconvenience of guilt.” These voices are joined by Edwidge Danticat, Roxane Gay, Claudia Rankine, Panashe Chigumadzi, Bridget Minamore, Margo Jefferson, Bonnie Greer, Philippa Yaa de Villiers, and dozens more, each one as accomplished as the rest, their tales arranged by decade, each decade seemingly a different world. It is, perhaps, this bulk, this excess, this non-superfluous surplus, this literal and literary embarrassment of riches that sends the strongest of messages. Yes, there is this much talent and achievement here in the literature of people of color, the roots of these writers in Africa, but their immense contribution extends to every continent. It is this good. It is this great. So, how is it that it continues to be such a low percentage of all that is published, widely distributed, critiqued, discussed, taught, and shared?

Echoes Magazine

3 May 2019
New Daughters Of Africa: An International Anthology Of Writing By Women Of African Descent. Edited by Margaret Busby[Myriad] With more than 200 black women writers in its 700 eventful pages, this inspiring collection punches above its very considerable weight. Editor Margaret Busby, who was at the helm for its predecessor 25 years ago, proves again to be as discerning and adventurous in her choice of contributors, as well as the genres in which they express themselves. The result is great diversity within a supposed minority, a resounding statement of the infinitely rich life experience of the ‘sisters’ drawn from Africa and the Diaspora. As was the case with the acclaimed first edition there is a commendable balance between those who are known and those who are unknown but nonetheless have illuminating things to say. There are thus few surprises about the excellence of Bernardine Evaristo’s On Top Of The World, a wonderful piece of prose that melts down any expectation of what a British-Nigerian could have in her DNA by way of an impassioned homage to icebergs in Greenland. On the other hand the poignant verse of Zambia’s Ethel Irene Kabwato will be a revelation, as will the luminous narrative and penetrating character studies of African-American Jesmyn Ward. Needless to say a host of other writers of varying profile, from Zadie Smith to Catherine Johnson, Mailka Booker, Jane Ulysses Grell and Attilah Springer, to name but some, also contribute work of a very high standard. Busby has grouped the texts by decade, reaching right back to the pre-1900, which results in a clear and vivid sense of evolution in both style and subject matter. It is timely to learn that Haiti, defined by western news in the 90s and 2000s as a blighted land of dictators and hurricanes, produces poets with the strength of a tempest, such as Anais Duplan. Her forensic depiction of blackness in a world where too few questions are asked is indispensable.
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Sussex Express

2 May 2019
‘A banquet of words’ is how legendary publisher, broadcaster, critic and author Margaret Busby introduces her latest anthology of writing by women of African descent. New Daughters of Africa comes 25 years after Margaret was commissioned to compile the first anthology of African women’s writing by a young editor called Candida Lacey, who now heads up the Brighton-based Myriad Editions, publishers of the new book. The original is long out of print and she and Candida decided it was high time for a completely new edition. Margaret will be discussing the book at the Charleston Festival on May 22. With her will be two of the contributors, award-winning novelist Diana Evans and cultural critic and playwright Bonnie Greer. There are more than 200 contributors to the anthology. Some will be well known to readers, others less so. In Candida Lacey’s words: “The discoveries are delicious and exciting.” She recalls how bowled over she was by the richness and diversity of the first anthology, published in 1992. “This was the backbone of my education in African literature,” she said. “And I was appalled that despite studying literature at university there were so few names that I knew.” The new book duplicates none of the writers who appeared in the first collection. It begins with some important entries from the 18th and 19th centuries and continues chronologically to the present day. As the decades unfold, the contributors’ names become more familiar. In the 1950s section, Diane Abbott, the first black woman to be elected to Parliament, has included her speech championing the case for the sugar industry in The Caribbean. In the ’60s, children’s author Malorie Blackman writes a moving letter to her daughter recounting the day when, at age 18, she was diagnosed with a disease likely to kill her by age 30. Only it didn’t. The ’70s includes Zadie Smith’s speech on receiving the Langston Hughes Medal in New York and what it means to be accepted, a black British woman, from a mixed marriage – a second-generation Jamaican, a distant but not-forgotten daughter of Africa. This book is a wonderful treasure trove to dip into and to marvel at how way ahead of their time were some of the early contributors. It begins with words by Nana Asma’u (1793-1863), a revered figure from northern Nigeria, who spoke four languages and was an educated and independent Islamic woman who could be considered a precursor to modern feminism in Africa. There is more than a touch of feminism in Effie Waller Smith (1879-1960), who praises ‘The Bachelor Girl’ with a marvellous opening line: “She’s no ‘old maid’, she’s not afraid/ To let you know she’s her own ‘boss.’” The poem ends on a triumphant note: “And come what may, she’s here to stay/ The self-supporting ‘bachelor girl.’” Candida Lacey hopes there will be a follow-up to this latest anthology – but neither she nor Margaret plan to wait 25 years this time. For publisher Candida and Myriad Editions these are exciting times, following their partnership two years ago with the Oxford-based New Internationalist. It has enabled Myriad to expand its reach and its commissioning. They published 12 books the first year of the partnership – a mix of fiction, graphic novels, literary and political non-fiction. The same number is listed for the current year. They still have a base in Brighton, and another in London, with the main office in Oxford. As always they are committed to seeking and publishing new writers.
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Professor Selwyn Cudjoe for Trinidad Daily Express

8 April 2019
“Know you not that love, when firmly established, is priceless?”—Nana Asma’u, “Lamentation for ‘Aysha.’” I MET Margaret Busby in the 1980s just after her press (Allison & Busby) published three volumes of CLR James’s collected work (The Future in the Present (1977), Spheres of Existence (1980), and At the Rendezvous of Victory (1984). It was an exciting time for James scholars. The assembled pieces were important parts of James’s intellectual corpus. In 1992 Busby published Daughters of Africa in which she showcased the works of over two hundred black women writers from all parts of the Africana world. The Washington Post called it “ground-breaking” and said it illuminated the “silent, forgotten, underrated voices of black women” while the London Sunday Times hailed it as “an extra body of achievement…a vital body of lost history.” It played a formative role in the field of Black Women’s writing. Twenty-six years later Busby is at it again, publishing New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writings by Women of African Descent. None of the writers from the earlier volume appear in this recent volume which the editor says “represents something of a fresh start.” It is an illuminating beginning-over-again; another milestone on the documentation of African women’s writings. Busby begins this remarkable volume with the work of Nana Asma’u (1793–1863), a revered figure in northern Nigeria, who spoke four languages. Asma’u “was an educated and independent Islamic woman who can be considered a precursor to modern feminism in Africa.” Then Busby turns to Sarah Parker Remond (1815–1894), an African-American writer who wanted “to be educated.” Remond was partly educated in England before migrating to Italy, where she studied medicine. Delia Jarrett-Macauley, a Sierra Leonean, recounts Remond’s amazing story in “The Bedford Women” that is reproduced in Busby’s anthology. Remond’s work is followed with an excerpt from the autobiography of Elizabeth Keckley’s (1818–1907), Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House which tells of Keckley’s father snatched away from she and her mother by their slave master. They never saw her father again even though he wrote to her mother until he died. These early works provide the scaffolding for a later generation of writers such as Edwidge Danticat, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith, Nawal El Saadawi, Claudia Rankine, and Marie NDiaye. I liked Danticat’s “Dawn After the Tempests” that uses Audre Lorde’s essay to interpret Grenada, and NDiaye’s melancholy story, “Three Strong Women,” about her selfishness and her husband’s sudden death, and Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro’s haunting but frighteningly mesmerising “Midwives (Fragments).” The anthology includes writers from about fifty countries. Trinidad and Tobago is well represented with selections from Elizabeth Nunez, Marina Salandy-Brown, Meta Davis Cumberbatch, Barbara Jenkins, and Lisa Allen-Agostini among others. Salandy-Brown’s “Lost Daughter of Africa” begins with the evocation of her ninety-seven-year-old mother, “Masa! Massa! Rua ina zua,” fragments of Hausa her mother remembered from the first seven years of her life in northern Nigeria. Listening to her grandmother’s fluent Hausa, Salandy-Brown revealed her amazement during that that strange, linguistic moment: “My uncle and his family, with whom she lived, were as amazed as I was by this new bit of history, by the acknowledgement, finally, that my grandmother had an African past.” Busby attempts to capture the “customs, tradition, friendships, mentor/mentee relationships, romance, sisterhood, inspiration, encouragement, sexuality, intersectional feminism, the politics of gender race and identity.” She takes particular joy in seeing Attillah Springer, a Trinidadian, “follow the pathway of her mother Eintou Pearl Springer, a contributor to Daughters of Africa,” a beautiful mother-daughter literary bonding. The longing for and recognition of African roots characterise the works of many of these writers. It also involves a search for self-awareness. Zadie Smith puts it best when, on receiving the Langston Hughes medal, she confessed: “I am so thankful that tonight it has stretched far enough to include a Black-British woman like me, a freckle-faced woman like me, a mixed-marriage woman like me, a green card holder like me, an immigrant like me, a second-generation Jamaican like me, a distant but not forgotten daughter of Africa.” This impulse to recapture and to reclaim Africa emanates from the rootsiness of an editor whose father was raised in Trinidad and settled in Ghana where Busby was born. After studying in London, she became Britain’s youngest and first black woman publisher. She remains a prolific African griot who is always doing book reviews and radio programs, writing articles and obituaries, and acting as a one-woman repository of black people’s writing. Two Wednesdays ago Busby and I met at the British Library just to reminisce and talk about her book. She was still at it. She had a cold, was on the verge of losing her voice but was still giving lectures and interviews to promote the writings of black people the world over. I was pleased that she attended my lecture at University College London about a month ago. There is no way I can do justice to this 800-page book in a 900-word article. It is a literary tour-de-force that must be read slowly and savoured. Much can be gained by reading the editor’s introduction carefully. It captures the lushness, the creativity, and the wondrous innovation of our Africana sisters. Jarrett-Macauley notes that Busby has turned “reading English into something global, explosive and urgent.” This is the joy and richness a reader will discover in this book: explosiveness, urgency, and a fantastic global literary encounter. Professor Cudjoe’s e-mail address is scudjoe@wellesley.edu. He can be reached @ProfessorCudjoe.
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Turnaround, Book of the Month

11 March 2019
In 1992, Margaret Busby compiled a pioneering work of literature by more than 200 women from Africa and the African Diaspora. The book clocked in at over 1000 pages of fiction, essays, poetry, drama, memoirs and children’s writing, and is widely regarded as an essential volume. This March, the month of Women’s History no less, Myriad Editions are set to release a follow-up: New Daughters of Africa. Naturally, it is our next Book of the Month. How could it not be? New Daughters of Africa, once again compiled by Margaret Busby in a gargantuan editorial feat, showcases the creativity and achievements of contributors including Roxane Gay, Zadie Smith, and Diane Abbott. It is a behemoth of thought and reflection, exploring sisterhood, tradition, romance, race and identity – individually, and at large. The importance of the initial publication of Daughters of Africa cannot be overstated, and New Daughters of Africa is just as significant. Last month Margaret Busby and Myriad Editions announced the £20,000 Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award in celebration of the book’s publication and the significance of the contributors’ achievements. The award will cover tuition and accommodation costs for black, female students ordinarily resident in Africa to study at SOAS University of London.
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Ninja Book Box

25 February 2019

Twenty-five years ago, Margaret Busby’s groundbreaking anthology Daughters of Africa illuminated the ‘silent, forgotten, underrated voices of black women’ (The Washington Post). Published to international acclaim, it was hailed as ‘an extraordinary body of achievement… a vital document of lost history’ (The Sunday Times)

New Daughters of Africa continues that mission for a new generation, bringing together a selection of overlooked artists of the past with fresh and vibrant voices that have emerged from across the globe in the past two decades, from Antigua to Zimbabwe and Angola to the USA. Key figures join popular contemporaries in paying tribute to the heritage that unites them. Each of the pieces in this remarkable collection demonstrates an uplifting sense of sisterhood, honours the strong links that endure from generation to generation, and addresses the common obstacles women writers of colour face as they negotiate issues of race, gender and class, and confront vital matters of independence, freedom and oppression.

Custom, tradition, friendships, sisterhood, romance, sexuality, intersectional feminism, the politics of gender, race, and identity—all and more are explored in this glorious collection  of work from over 200 writers. New Daughters of Africa spans a wealth of genres—autobiography, memoir, oral history, letters, diaries, short stories, novels, poetry, drama, humour, politics, journalism, essays and speeches—to demonstrate the diversity and remarkable literary achievements of black women who remain under-represented, and whose works continue to be under-rated, in world culture today.

Featuring women across the diaspora, New Daughters of Africa illuminates the richness and cultural history of this original continent and its enduring influence, while reflecting our own lives and issues today. Bold and insightful, brilliant in its intimacy and universality, this essential volume honours the talents of African daughters and the inspiring legacy that connects them—and all of us.

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New Beacon Books

Showcasing the work of more than 200 women writers of African descent, this major international collection celebrates their contributions to literature and international culture.

New Daughters of Africa continues that mission for a new generation, bringing together a selection of overlooked artists of the past with fresh and vibrant voices that have emerged from across the globe in the past two decades, from Antigua to Zimbabwe and Angola to the USA. Key figures join popular contemporaries in paying tribute to the heritage that unites them. Each of the pieces in this remarkable collection demonstrates an uplifting sense of sisterhood, honours the strong links that endure from generation to generation, and addresses the common obstacles women writers of colour face as they negotiate issues of race, gender and class, and confront vital matters of independence, freedom and oppression.

Custom, tradition, friendships, sisterhood, romance, sexuality, intersectional feminism, the politics of gender, race, and identity—all and more are explored in this glorious collection  of work from over 200 writers. New Daughters of Africa spans a wealth of genres—autobiography, memoir, oral history, letters, diaries, short stories, novels, poetry, drama, humour, politics, journalism, essays and speeches—to demonstrate the diversity and remarkable literary achievements of black women who remain under-represented, and whose works continue to be under-rated, in world culture today.

Featuring women across the diaspora, New Daughters of Africa illuminates the richness and cultural history of this original continent and its enduring influence, while reflecting our own lives and issues today. Bold and insightful, brilliant in its intimacy and universality, this essential volume honours the talents of African daughters and the inspiring legacy that connects them—and all of us.

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