an elegy for easterly > petina gappah

petina gappah, author an elegy for easterly, african literature, african writers, africaPetina Gappah has won the Guardian First Book Award for her collection of short stories, An Elegy for Easterly. I first heard about her in an African Voices interview (Part One below, find the rest on YouTube) with memoirist Alexandra Fuller, author of the phenomenal Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight. I remember watching Petina bristle sitting beside Fuller, a white Rhodesian woman, talking about the plight of the Zimbabwean writer.

Her palpable defensiveness, though thinly veiled in pleasantries, was diffused by the authenticity with which Fuller interrogated her own entitlement as a white woman. And I found myself confused about whether hers was a fruitless anger. But I have come to understand that what I interpreted as anger was only Petina's embodiment of radical autonomy. On closer examination, she is simply engaging in a disruptive act by writing, pushing against a deeply ingrained power structure that was not meant to include her own voice. In that way, I too may appear "angry" at times (and I certainly will own up to that).

Thank goodness for vindication.


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