Voices from the continent with the world’s youngest population—Water Birds on the Lake Shore: An Anthology of African Young Adult Fiction (Plus: Read 3 of the stories)

Exclusive to The JRB, we present three new short stories from the Goethe-Institut Afro Young Adult anthology, Water Birds on the Lake Shore: An Anthology of African Young Adult Fiction, edited by Zukiswa Wanner.


Water Birds on the Lake Shore: An Anthology of African Young Adult Fiction
Edited by Zukiswa Wanner
Ouida Books, 2019

The Afro Young Adult project was launched in September 2018, with the aim of producing more African literature for young adults. The call for applications resulted in 435 submissions from 28 countries.

The final stories were selected through workshops in a number of African cities, run by panels consisting of writers, literary activists and young adult readers from across the continent.

Seventeen stories, written in English, French and Swahili, have now been selected to be published in the anthology, which appears in three editions in the three languages.

The book will be officially launched at the Aké Arts & Festival, which takes place on Victoria Island, Nigeria, from 24 to 27 October 2019.

Zukiswa Wanner, the project coordinator, says: ‘The Goethe-Institut Sub-Saharan Africa has been at the forefront of the Afro Young Adult initiative. This anthology is the first of its kind in recent memory, on a continent where the majority of the population are young adults and yet are too often ignored.

‘Despite the unforeseen costs that came up during the process, they did not give up on it, and in this way exemplified how developmental partners can work together with the African continent in literature.’

From the press release:

The stories in the anthology range from the fantastical, to observations of youth in war situations and the mysteries of death; from personal questions about family and friendships, to explorations of sexuality. Despite the wide range of themes, what all the stories have in common is that they are written in young adults’ voices, familiar to anyone who has ever been (or is) at the start of adult life. Voices that are at times assertive, sometimes uncertain, but always aware of a world around them.

Asma Diakité, regional head of cultural programmes at the Goethe-Institut, says: ‘The stories in the anthology shine a light on the issues that young Africans are concerned with—the importance of these voices from the continent with the world’s youngest population cannot be underestimated.

‘We are hopeful that the anthology will be widely distributed in book shops, libraries and class rooms all over the world, but particularly on the African continent so that young adults in Africa can see that they are not alone with their hopes, fears and dreams.’

The anthology will be available in selected book stores and libraries all over Africa. There will be additional launch events in selected countries. For further information, visit Goethe.de/AYA.

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