PODCAST: Interview with Odafe Atogun, Author of Taduno’s Song

April 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Odafe Atogun’s new novel, TADUNO’S SONG, is an allegory about an exiled Nigerian musician, Taduno, who goes back home to Lagos, Nigeria only to discover that the government has successfully wiped all memory of him, even his friends and neighbors no longer remember him. Prior to his exile, Taduno wrote and performed songs that criticized the corruption and oppression of the government, much like the real life Nigerian musical superstar and human rights activist, the late Fela Kuti, who the novel is based on.  Ultimately Taduno is given an impossible choice: write and perform songs at a concert sponsored by the government that praises the regime or his girlfriend will be killed.

Odafe Atogun was born in Nigeria, in the town of Lokoja, where the Rivers Niger and Benue meet, but hails from Edo State. Now a full-time writer, he is married and lives in Abuja.

 

April 22, 2017 Leave a comment

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April 22, 2017 Leave a comment

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April 22, 2017 Leave a comment

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April 22, 2017 Leave a comment

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Elizabeth Schwartz Interview

March 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Austin novelist Jennifer Hritz and I interviewed Elizabeth Schwartz, author of BEFORE I DO: A Legal Guide to Marriage, Gay and Otherwise live on KAZI on January 22, 2017.  Here is a podcast of the interview:

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Celebrate the 2016 Diverse Literary Voices Texas Fiction Award Winners

December 22, 2016 1 comment

The inaugural 2016 Diverse Literary Voices Texas Fiction Award Winners are:

  • Evelyn Palfrey, winner of the Legacy Award
  • Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, winner of the Fiction of the Year Award
  • Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, winner of the Rising Star Award
  • Jacob Grovey, winner of the Rising Star Award

2016 Legacy Award Winner Evelyn Palfrey

evelyn-palfreyAs the winner of the Legacy Award, Evelyn Palfrey is being honored for writing inspiring novels for 20 years about black protagonists that are “marvelously mature,” set in Texas.  Evelyn Palfrey is a native Texan and a lawyer who writes romantic suspense for the ‘marvelously mature’—because romance is just as sweet with a little gray at the temple. She is the author of five novels that deal with issues that are common to the middle passage of life, and reflect her 30 years practice of criminal and family law—and her love of RV travel.

Evelyn began writing fiction in 1995, driven by the realization that although many romance readers were like her—at middle age and starting a new phase of life—they weren’t represented as romance heroines. Three Perfect Men was the first book of a trilogy about three women who had been college roommates in the ‘60’s. Three women take an RV trip to a placid East Texas lake, and become involved in a murder—and three perfect men. The Price of Passion, a novel about marriage and betrayal set in Austin, followed the next year. Her sister’s remark about the absence of full-figured women as romance heroines propelled her to write Dangerous Dilemmas. Her fourth novel, Everything In Its Place, grew out of recognition that many women who thought they had finished raising children, are now raising grandchildren. Going Home is the story of a retired woman who invites a Katrina evacuee to move into her home.evelyns-book

Evelyn’s novels have been on the Essence Magazine bestseller list, the BookSense ‘76 list, and have been Black Expressions selections. The Price of Passion was awarded Best Multicultural Book by Romantic Times Magazine. Evelyn’s story, “The Lady at the Bus Stop,” was published in Chicken Soup for the African-American Soul, and her story, “Mama’s Hands,” was published in Chicken Soup for the African-American Woman’s Soul. She has also been a contributor to Black Issues Book Review. Evelyn was nominated for a Career Achievement Award by Romantic Times. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Austin Public Library Foundation, Travis County Lawyer Referral Service, Austin Community Radio, Inc., Writers League of Texas, Texas Municipal Courts Education Center, and the State Bar of Texas. In 2012, she was awarded the Emma Author of the Year by Romance Slam Jam.  To purchase copies of her books go to: http://evelynpalfrey.com/novels.htm.  To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Evelyn Palfrey click the play button below:

 

2016 Fiction of the Year Award Winner Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

chitra-divakaruniChitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s wonderful 2016 novel, BEFORE WE VISIT THE GODDESS, is the 2016 Texas Fiction of the Year.  It is a multigenerational novel covering the emotional lives of three Indian women, Sabitri, the matriarch born and raised in India, her daughter Bela, who runs away to America with a college radical never to come back to India, and Tara, the granddaughter in America that Sabitri never sees.  Spanning from the 1940s to 2020, the novel charts the efforts of each of the women to take control of their lives while overcoming the consequences of bad decisions and tragedies. With settings in India, Oakland, Houston, and Austin, BEFORE WE VISIT THE GODDESS, brings to light the immigrant experience of Indians, and the impact of the weakening of family ties to their native land.Chitra Divakaruni before-we-visit-the-goddess-9781476792002_hr

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning and bestselling author, poet, activist and teacher of writing. Her work has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthlyand The New Yorker, and her writing has been included in over 50 anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories, the O.Henry Prize Stories and the Pushcart Prize Anthology. Her books have been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Bengali, Russian and Japanese, and many of them have been used for campus-wide and city-wide reads. Several of her works have been made into films and plays. She lives in Houston with her husband Murthy and has two sons, Anand and Abhay, who are in college. She loves to connect with readers on her Facebook page.  To purchase copies of her books go to: http://www.chitradivakaruni.com/books/.  To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Chitra Divakaruni click the play button below:

 

2016 Rising Star Award Winner Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

antonio-ruiz-camachoWith his short story collection published in 2015, BAREFOOT DOGS, former journalist Antonio Ruiz-Camacho stormed on Austin’s book scene with a literary debut that captured the angst and tragedy of a Mexican family whose patriarch is kidnapped.  Currently working on his debut novel, Ruiz-Camacho is truly a rising star in Texas fiction.antonio-ruiz-camacho-book-cover

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho was born and raised in Toluca, Mexico. A former Knight Journalism fellow at Stanford University, a Dobie Paisano fellow in fiction by the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Institute of Letters, and a Walter E. Dakin fellow in fiction at Sewanee Writers’ Conference, he earned his MFA from The New Writers Project at UT Austin. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Texas Monthly, The Millions, and elsewhere. His debut story collection BAREFOOT DOGS won the Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Book of Fiction, and was named a Best Book of 2015 by Kirkus Reviews, San Francisco Chronicle, Texas Observer and PRI’s The World. It was published in Spanish translation by the author, and is forthcoming in Dutch. Antonio lives in Austin, Texas, with his family, where he’s currently at work on a novel.

To purchase copies of his books go to: http://antonioruizcamacho.com/Antonio_Ruiz_Camacho/barefoot_dogs.html.  To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Antonio Ruiz-Camacho click the play button below:

 

2016 Rising Star Award Winner Jacob Grovey

jaocb-grovey-officialAlthough he is not even 40 yet, Jacob Grovey has published three books and is founder of Global Genius Society, a global community of artists and art lovers.  His 2016 novel, DANCE OF THE BROKEN, tells the inspirational story of a young black girl who dreams of being a ballerina, despite society’s opinion that she’s cut from the wrong cloth.jacob-grovey-book-cover

Jacob began writing early in life. At the age of eight, he first saw people actually valued his words. He was offered the opportunity to write for a magazine, but as great as the opportunity was, Jacob passed on it because he didn’t want any pressure to be associated with his writing. As the years passed, he found himself writing less and less, and before he knew it, he had gone several years without writing anything. As he thought back to the times when he wrote daily, he soon became upset with himself for going so long without putting his thoughts onto paper. In 2003, he vowed to never let that happen again. Now he says, “I promise you, the times that you’ll catch me without some sort of notepad and pencil are gonna be few and far between because you never know when the inspiration will hit.”

To purchase copies of his books go to: http://www.globalgeniussociety.com/store/c7/Jacob_Grovey.html.  To listen to the KAZI Book Review interview with Jacob Grovey click the play button below: