Monday, August 04, 2008

Bookslam, Nonso Anozie and a whiff of nepotism

Walking out of the tube station, I am at a loss whether to turn left or right- the map on the wall of the tube station isn't much help, and so I find myself taking a gamble and heading in a direction that I assume to be the right one. It soon becomes clear that it isn't, and it has begun to rain, a fierce drizzle of the irritating kind that sometimes appears in London, making me want to shout at it, make up your mind and fall like a proper tropical storm, rather than keeping up this piss-pissing all day long. It is a Thursday night and as I am in the edgy trendy area between Notting Hill and Kilburn, I pass revellers a plenty. After several false turns, I find myself walking down a deserted walkway that ends up at the back of a council estate. There is a gathering in front of one of the flats, many young black men and women, all dressed in black. I assume that they are coming from a funeral until I walk a few steps further and run into another crowd, this time all dressed in green. Conscious of the recent headlines about gangland stabbings, I quicken my steps and soon find myself standing under the Westway, the huge fly-over in West London. the air is alive to the sound of skateboarders, twisting, turning and landing with a loud thump. Someone, the council perhaps has converted part of this space to a skateboarder's paradise with a wooden floor that sweeps and swoops back on itself providing a loud echoing thump from the many skateboarders packed into the space. Wandering past them, I come across a nightclub type queue which I initially pass and then realize that it is the queue for Bookslam, the literary nightclubbing event started by author Patrick Neate that I am headed for. The very polite security men soon let me in to the vast dark cavern of a night club where the event takes place, which is filled with some cool rhythmic music at a volume that allows conversation. I buy myself a drink and stumbling to find a place to sit, I bump into the star of the evening, James Frey- he of the Oprah scandal around the "fictionalized memoir" A Million Little Pieces. He politely extricates himself from me and thankfully I haven't spilt any drink on him.

Patrick soon mounts the stage and introduced the first act, a hilarious young poet called Byron Vincent who soon shakes me out of my work induced apathy. Then it is time for Frey who asks the crowd of maybe 200 if they would rather hear about sex or guns. Sex is the near-unanimous choice and so he launches into a reading from his new book, a novel, Bright Shiny Morning set in California. I am caught up in the story and when the next act Bryn Christopher launches into his rousing gospel-infused R and B songs, I head to buy a copy of Frey's new book and queue to have it autographed.

He asks me what he should write and when I tell him my name and shrug, he asks if I mind if he swears. I shrug again and that is how I end up with a book inscribed "To XXXXXX, the coolest motherfucker in London, indeed, indeed" What that means coming from arguably one of the world's best known fabricators is a matter for conjecture, but I have had a good night, having tucked into the affordable Thai food on offer at the night....


Nonso Anozie is a British-Nigerian actor much in the news this week with the debut of the film Cass in which he stars. The film based on the life of the "infamous football hooligan" Cass Pennant has received good reviws. Anozie is perhaps following in the footsteps of Cyril Nri,Chiwetel Ejiofor, Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje and David Oyelowo. As is Chuk Iwuji another rising British Nigerian actor...

Recently stumbled across this website which appears to have interesting events listed...

In Abuja and here in London, rumours brew thickly of an imminent cabinet reshuffle. There is much discontentment on both sides with the current leadership, but while a regicide appears imminent in London, there appears to be no such luck in Abuja....or could the still rumbling election petitions provide any surprises?

Meanwhile a little bird whispers to me that the current Nigerian Chief Justice much praised for his uprightness has in the last six months sworn in not one but two of his sons in as judges- one of the Federal High Court and the other as a member of the Abuja High Court judiciary. Perhaps David Milliband need not worry about whether or not to appoint his brother and fellow cabinet member Ed to a high office of state if he succeeds in toppling Brown- he can take notes from our own Chief Justice, although whether the UK press will be quite as obliging as the Nigerian press remains to be seen....

From Farafina Publishers come news of their latest offerings including Nnedi Okorafor Mbachu's Zahra the Windseeker and The Weaverbird Collection, edited by Akin Adesokan, Ike Anya, Sarah Manyika and Ike Oguine

I've recently finished two relatively hefty tomes from British literary stars of years past- Hanif Kureishi's Something to Tell You, i found really difficult to get in two but halfway through, became more engaging, if still somewhat unsatisfying; while Adam Mars Jones' Pilcrow, an interesting account of a disabled boy growing up in Fifties Britain was engaging page by page but seemed to go nowhere, and by the end, left me slightly puzzled with why I had to plough through all those pages...

The Booker longlist is out and the only book on the list that I have read is Linda Grant's The Clothes on Their Backs, which I quite enjoyed soon after it was longlisted for the Orange Prize, but which frankly isn't really all that....

12 comments:

Morountodun said...

So when are you going to step into the phone booth and reveal your secret identity?

Anonymous said...

Hello,
I'm at work secretly reading your blog because I am officially addicted to it. Stumbled upon you when I googled Pacessetters...lol. I enjoyed your trip down memory lane , even if it was written in 2005. So your blog is going to be my "light" reading for the next couple of days as i try to climb out of the bermuda triangle that is sappy romance novels. Thanks for interesting reading. -A Nigerian woman living in the US, who just might start some musings of her own.

uknaija said...

@morountodun- why would I do that? Anonymity is so much more fun :-)
@anonymous - Thanks for dropping by, and do think seriously about starting your own blog- it's amazing what catches people's attention. No offence meant to my readers :-)

Cheetarah said...

You met Frey, i got 'a million pieces' for christmas and i was awed at how he could claim it was true,but he is as you say a master fabricator. As to his autograph..hmm he does sound like his character, so i guess that part wasnt a lie.

I havent been here in awhile, must start coming again.Btw i wudnt blame the CJ, their families all study law and some of them quite good actually so he wud have an abudance of whom to choose, it mite me nepotisim but they mite actually qualify. Im not saying its right, but i aint mad at him either.

Remain anonymous please..it much more interesting!

Havent heard of Nonso,must google..A plus x

Jaycee said...

I seriously enjoy reading you. I feel like I'm grasping so much literary knowledge any time I do.

I bookmarked the Farafina website some days ago, and I hope to keep checking for their works.

That Frey guy is kinda...weird. Lol. No offense to his works (just analyzing how he signed his autograph).

Anonymous said...

Hi just spent the past days reading your blog from start to finish and have a long list of books I hope to find in my local library and or book store. Thanks for a reading list- especially for the African authors. I have been so lax in reading from the continent. I also find you very interesting and the anonimity only serves to make you more so! Frey has a serious imagination and even more serious moral issues. His book might have done well as a fictional work- we'll never know.

ShonaVixen said...

so glad i stumbled upon this blog...lemme go and enjoy reading..already lurving the literacy knowledge being shared

Jaja said...

Indeedy, indeedy, the coolest motherfucker in London. You is.

NigerianDramaQueen said...

The stories you share of your life as a Nigerian in London are always interesting.

You read the infamous Oprah autobiography turned fiction? Once I found out it was all fiction I lost interest in it.

Off to check the Booker's list.

Waffarian said...

Hey...long time! I see you have been reading...sigh...okay...let me go and see which of them I can find...

@moroutodun: why spoil the fun?

@others: this blog is always here, although the man tends to appear and disappear as he pleases...

africanaspects said...

As a Southern African, your blog is giving me the West African perspective I seem to lack. I'll be back. I blog randomly myself at www.africanaspects.com - do stop by when you have a second. Cheers.

Ore said...

I love reading your blog. You read so much and I wonder how you find the time. I love to read, but somehow beyond avidly buying books, I never seem to get round to reading them.

I bought 2 more over the weekend and I'm determined to turn over a new leaf with them.