Overview

This series showcases African literary figures whose work has raised the profile of, and increased knowledge about, the continent’s literary contributions throughout the world. Through a series of live webcasts, the program has engaged diverse audiences including online viewers internationally, thus increasing their exposure to the richness, diversity, and creativity of contemporary African writing. From this series, the Library of Congress has created a new digital archive containing prominent authors from over 15 African countries.

The Conversations with African Poets and Writers series was conceptualized after programming the legendary Nigerian writer and scholar, Chinua Achebe,  who read from his novel Things Fall Apart, one of the first African novels written in English to receive international acclaim. This series is a collaborative partnership of the Library of Congress’ African and Middle Eastern Division’s Africa Section, the Poetry and Literature Center, The Africa Society and Howard University’s Center for African Studies.

The literary series was officially launched in October 2011, with a dialogue from the late living legend and Pan-African Scholar, Dr. Ali A. Mazrui (then a member of The Africa Society’s Board of Directors), who discussed the state of contemporary African culture and post-independence literary production. On May 9, 2019, we had the distinct honor of featuring another African literary giant, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, an award-winning, world-renowned Kenyan writer and academic. 

Since 2012, we have featured the winners of the Caine Prize for African writing.  This series is a collaborative partnership of the Library of Congress’ African and Middle Eastern Division’s Africa Section, the Poetry and Literature Center, The Africa Society and Howard University’s Center for African Studies.

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