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Great African Reads: Authors > Manu Herbstein | Ama

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message 1: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - added it

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
This is also way way overdue, so please everyone accept my apologies. Group member Manu Herbstein wrote an amazing looking work of historical fiction and I have gotten the sense from his posts in this group that he did phenomenal research in order to write it. I regret that I have yet to read it. It looks like the kind of book that I need to totally devote myself too and I am hoping to make time and space for that sometime at the end of this summer. I know a few of you have already read it and I know Manu is happy to discuss it, so please feel free to comment on it here and/or ask Manu questions about it!


message 2: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie I know - another book that has been sitting on my wishlist-f shelf for months, ie another book I want to buy..... Not only do I have to buy it but then I need the time to read it! Can I buy 5 extra hours per day......


Andrea | 660 comments I read "Ama" and then gave my copy away. But I'd love to discuss it when others are ready. I can get another copy.


message 4: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - added it

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Chrissie wrote: "I know - another book that has been sitting on my wishlist-f shelf for months, ie another book I want to buy..... Not only do I have to buy it but then I need the time to read it! Can I buy 5 extra..."

Chrissie, this why moving to Mars is so appealing. :D


message 5: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Andrea, if you can "get another copy" so easily..... and if you would like to give another copy away..... I would love one!!!


message 6: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments Hi all,

Andrea, thanks for your recommendation under the Slavery and Abolition topic in another group (which I deliberately refrain from naming.) I spent some time drawing up a list of recommended reading to post there. I also included a link to the novel's companion website and to a paper I had published in a leading academic journal with just that name, Slavery and Abolition. The moderator accused me of self-promotion and demanded that I delete the links from my posting. I tried to persuade him to reconsider his edict but said that if he insisted, I would comply with his request. By the time I returned to edit the posting, he had deleted it. I didn't have a copy and neither did he. Rather than start from scratch, I resigned from the group. I subsequently reported the incident, without naming the group, at Goodreads Feedback. The resulting discussion has attracted going on for 70 messages.

I have to say how much I appreciate the common sense and common purpose of this group.

OK, now for the self-promotion. Ama has recently become available on the Kindle. If you don't have one (yet?) you can download the Kindle for PC software from Amazon free of charge. You can then download the first few chapters of Ama (and many other books) free of charge to read on your PC.

Ama was published in India last September (with Atlantic removed from the title.) The printer of the Indian edition has also printed a new African edition, presently on its way to Ghana by sea, to be launched in Accra in September or October. This is the first book to be published by a start-up publisher with origins in a small local bookstore.

Finally, here's a link to an interesting interview with Lagosian Sefi Atta, author of Everything Good Will Come, a recent novel I deeply admire and highly recommend.

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,...


message 7: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - added it

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Manu wrote: "Hi all,

Andrea, thanks for your recommendation under the Slavery and Abolition topic in another group (which I deliberately refrain from naming.) I spent some time drawing up a list of recommended..."


Manu,
I saw that thread in the Goodreads Feedback group and as a moderator I took great interest in it. I have to say I was appalled at what happened to you there and am happy to see that you feel welcome here. To me, one of the main points of Goodreads is to let authors and readers interact...sure i bet there is a bit of "shameless self-promotion" going on in the goodreads universe that can rub potential readers the wrong way, but that hasn't really happened here. I like that authors here are members AND authors and contribute to discussions in multiple ways. I like that so far, the member-authors of this group have been genuinely keen to discuss their books and work, and i think you are a fine example of that.

and congratulations on your book reaching new markets!!


Andrea | 660 comments Chrissie wrote: "Andrea, if you can "get another copy" so easily..... and if you would like to give another copy away..... I would love one!!!"Hi Chrissie, usually I "get" books by interlibrary loan. To get another copy of my own, I'd need to order online. If you have a public library, they may be able to get the book for you on loan from another library. I'll keep you in mind when I'm snooping around though. One never knws what will turn up in used bookstores.


message 9: by Chrissie (last edited Aug 19, 2010 09:41PM) (new) - added it

Chrissie Andrea, I live in Belgium. Here the libraries have primarily French or Dutch language books. Even with ABeBooks the postage brings the price up significantly. Book Depository usually has the best offer..... It is just that it all adds up!

I have read an excerpt and been very intrigued! I liked the prose style!


Andrea | 660 comments Chrissie wrote: "Andrea, I live in Belgium. Here the libraries have primarily French or Dutch language books. Even with ABeBooks the postage brings the price up significantly. Book Depository usually has the best o..."
I'll see what I can do. You must have heard of my old buddy Bob Verbeek, used to run with my husband at Iowa State.


message 11: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Andrea, wow that would ne nice.


message 12: by Muphyn (last edited Aug 21, 2010 12:11AM) (new) - added it

Muphyn | 816 comments Manu wrote: "Hi all,

Andrea, thanks for your recommendation under the Slavery and Abolition topic in another group (which I deliberately refrain from naming.) I spent some time drawing up a list of recommended..."


Hi Manu,

Just want to echo Marieke's sentiments - I do hope you feel welcome here and please feel free to do as much "self-promotion", particularly in this thread (and in others as appropriate), as you like!! I'm really appalled to read that your entire posts were deleted in that particular group! I'm not sure what to say, really...

Please feel free to link to the book's companion website (and other resources you think readers might find useful) in this thread, mention other articles you may have written, etc. etc. This thread is all about you and your work! :)

I should really try and read your book some time soon (my university library actually has a copy!) so we can have a proper discussion about it here. :)


message 13: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Manu, I must say - that is horrible what you have experienced! All I know is that an author must like what they have written. They must have the right to fight for what they have created. And I know I was very intrigued when I read an excerpt.


Andrea | 660 comments Yes, if the author doesn't like it, I'm not sure I want to read it.


message 15: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - added it

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Manu, I finally have my very own copy of your book!


message 16: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments Here's the latest review, posted on Tuesday and revised yesterday.

http://kwesispot.blogspot.com/2010/09...


message 17: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (last edited Sep 10, 2010 06:04AM) (new) - added it

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Nice review; and exciting to think that steam could pick up for using your book in college classrooms. it's true; the slave trade/slavery is not taught well at all in the U.S...at least not where i grew up in Virginia. In fact, not too long ago i noticed a plaque on a building in my hometown that i must have passed a million times growing up. i had no idea what it was. i was shocked to find out...not shocked about what it was, but that i had never known about it. but i learned all about "flounder" houses as a schoolkid!


message 18: by Muphyn (last edited Feb 03, 2011 01:21PM) (new) - added it

Muphyn | 816 comments Nina came across an interview with Manu at the Africa Book Club so I thought I'd post it here as well: Writer's Spotlight: Interview with Manu.


message 19: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments My apologies for self-advertisement. Take advantage of the short free download window or, better still, order a copy

http://book.co.za/blog/2011/05/24/afr...

The African Cities Reader II: Mobilities and Fixtures edited by Ntone Edjabe and Edgar Pieterse will be made available this June at selected bookstores. Prior to its June release, the publication will be made available as a free download from the African Cities Reader website from next week.

African Cities Reader IIThe second instalment of this biennial publication focuses on the theme “Mobilities and Fixtures” and features contributions from Jonny Steinberg ( author of Little Liberia), Teju Cole (Open City), Doreen Baingana (Tropical Fish ), Brian Chikwava (Harare North), Chris Abani (Becoming Abigail), and Ed Kashi (Curse of the Black Gold).

From the Press Release:

The African Cities Reader is a biennial publication that brings together contributors from across Africa and the world to challenge the prevailing depiction of urban life on the continent and redefine cityness, Africa-style. It is a joint creation of Chimurenga Magazine and the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town.

In this issue Sean O’Toole interviews architect David Adjaye about African cityscapes, snapshot photography and failed utopias; Victor Lavalle uncovers the making of mercenaries in Uganda; Martin Kimani follows the African visa-seeker in the tragi-comedy that is the post 9/11 airport; SHerif El-Azma exlpores Cairo by foot; MADEYOULOOK and Santu Mofokeng imagine the didactic possibilities of trains; Manu Herbstein documents the “car doctors” of Accra; Chris Abani discovers the African city of Las Vegas; and Michael Watts examines oil cities.

Other contributors include Jonny Steinberg, Brian Chikwava, Dominique Malaquais, Mowoso Collective, Ed Kashi, Sean Christie, Iaian Chambers, Tim Cresswell and many more.

The African Cities Reader is edited by Ntone Edjabe and Edgar Pieterse.

More information at African Cities Reader.org

Book details

African Cities Reader II: Mobilities and Fixtures edited by Edgar Pieterse and Ntone Edjabe
EAN: 9780981427348


message 20: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - added it

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
no worries, Manu--that's what this thread is for!!

Do you think it will be difficult for people in the U.S. to order copies?


Andrea | 660 comments Thanks, Manu. That looks great! In comment on Chris Abani's article, whenever we are in an unfamiliar city in the U.S., my husband is bound to uncover the "Kenyan" element. I've gotten over being surprised at the rich African subculture in such places as Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas and Kansas City.


message 22: by Muphyn (new) - added it

Muphyn | 816 comments Manu, this looks great!! Thanks for posting (and please don't worry about 'self-promotion', as Marieke said, it's your thread! :D ). I must remember to download the electronic copy next week, that'll be great! :)


message 23: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments This is the link to the African Cities Reader website:

http://www.africancitiesreader.org.za/ not reader.org as stated in message 19.


message 24: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (last edited May 30, 2011 03:51PM) (new) - added it

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Manu, i just read your interview at the Africa Book Club with great interest.

Two things: 1)A sequel to Ama entitled The Brave Music of a Distant Drum won an honourable mention in the 2010 Burt Award for Ghana and will be published in Canada in late 2011 or early 2012.

Any chance we can get that in the U.S.? i have Ama: A Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade as an e-book;

and 2)The Burt Award is a great idea. First Ethiopia, next Tanzania, then Ghana and now Kenya hosts an annual contest for a novel targeted at 12-15 year olds with a first prize of $10,000. The writers have to be resident citizens. All honour to the generous Canadian, Bill Burt, whose idea this was and who funds it. The Japanese funded Noma Prize is no more. The Caine Prize is British funded. What a pity and shame that with all their talk of an African Renaissance, our political leaders have been so mean in their patronage of the arts and creative writing in particular. Mo Ibrahim should consider giving up his futile search for ex-presidents worthy of his prize and devote his philanthropy to the recognition and nurturing of African literary and other creative achievement.

YES! how can we get Mo's attention????


Andrea | 660 comments I would love to read the sequel to Ama. I didn't know it existed. Have the best intentions about reading all of the material people point us to here, but don't get past the books, usually.


message 26: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments 1. I recently finished the final edit of Brave Music with publisher Red Deer's editor, Kathy Stinson, so publication will presumably go ahead in the fall as planned. I retained African rights but Red Deer has the rest of the world, which I guess includes the U.S. so it should be available from Amazon.

2. http://www.moibrahimfoundation.org/en... There's a contact page.


message 27: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments Just published, for the Kindle. I set the price at $1.00 but Amazon has decided to charge $3.00.

PRESIDENT MICHELLE
OR
TEN DAYS THAT SHOOK THE WORLD

A subversive political fantasy

by Manu Herbstein


"On your fantasy, I can't imagine that any major magazine editor would publish -- at least I hope not. The idea of B. Obama's being assassinated is too painful, too raw, too possible. There’s just no chance the political agenda you attribute to Michelle could be realized and no evidence that it would be her agenda. Kucinich is not popular. You can't get any legislation through the Senate in 10 days unless it's enormously popular, if then. Your political agenda just is not the US's, no matter what its merits may be. And some aspects of it might well be ruled unconstitutional. So yes, it is a subversive fantasy! And it is shared by some here, but not many. DP"

"A long time ago I took an oath never to write anything inoffensive. . . the single characteristic that most makes a difference in the success of an article . . . is the author’s courage in revealing normally unspoken things about . . . his society. It takes guts to be a writer . . . What makes writing at its best interesting is the writer’s willingness to broach the unspeakable . . . the best writers, those whose originality shines, tend to be those who are most outspoken.
Sol Stein, Stein on Writing, Guts: The Decisive Ingredient"

"Sent: Monday, July 19, 2010 9:45 PM
We regret that we are unable to use the enclosed material. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider it.
Sincerely, The Editors"

Some quotes:

“What I am tentatively staking out here today,” she said, “is a case for leadership, for American leadership. But leadership of a different kind, leadership based not on economic and military power. No. Not that. Not that. I ask, with all humility, that my leadership be judged and that this country’s leadership be judged, from this day on, on moral grounds.”

The Act to Restore Democracy to the United States of America . . . would make it an offence for any candidate for public office to accept gifts or loans in support of his or her election campaign; or, indeed, to use personal wealth for such a purpose. Congress would allocate funds to an Independent Electoral Authority and this Authority would in turn fund the electoral campaigns of all candidates qualified to stand for office. . . At a stroke, this law would level the electoral playing field. For the first time in generations the wealthy would have little or no advantage over the poor in the competition for office. She expected new talents to emerge which would enrich and invigorate American political life. New parties might enter the political arena, breaking the monopoly presently shared by Republicans and Democrats and breathing new life into American democracy. . .

“In the first year of my Presidency I shall close down, that is, disarm and evacuate, all our military bases abroad; and hand them over either to the host country, or, if the hosts agree, to the United Nations. All our warships will return to their home ports, tasked with patrolling our own shores, not those of other nations . . .”

She characterized the Middle East, Israel and occupied Palestine, as a “festering wound that has infected the body politic of much of our world.” The so-called “two state solution,” she said, was clearly no solution to anything and would no longer receive American support. “In its stead,” she said, “I propose to use all the means at my disposal to persuade the parties to negotiate, in a broadly representative national convention, the constitution of a single secular state within the pre-1948 boundaries of Palestine, a constitution that will guarantee full protection for both individual human rights and for the rights of all religious communities.”


message 28: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments Brave Music for a Distant Drum was published in Canada in November and the U.S. in February. (ISBN 978-0-88995-470-0)

The cover: Brave Music of a Distant Drum by Manu Herbstein

The blurb: Ama is a slave. She is old and dying and has an incredible story to tell. It is about violence and heartache, but it is also a story of courage, hope, determination, and ultimately, love. Since Ama is blind, she cannot write down her story for future generations. Instead, she summons the son from whom she has been long separated. At first he thinks she's old and tiresome. But as Ama's astonishing journey unfolds in her own words, his world changes forever, until he can never see it with the same eyes again. Nor will those who read Ama's story.

A Ghana edition is due out later this year. I'm trying to persuade my publisher to include the following document, aimed at school-aged readers, as a loose insert. Any thoughts?

Author Manu Herbstein issues some challenges to Ghanaian readers of Brave Music of a Distant Drum.

The novel opens with the words “I am blind.” Do you know anyone who has lost the use of his or her sight? Blindfold yourself with a dark cloth so that you can see nothing. Ask a friend to act as your guide. Keep the blindfold on for at least half an hour. Describe your experience. Seek out a blind person in your community and ask for permission to interview him or her. Prepare for the interview by listing the questions you plan to ask. Write up the interview for possible publication.

In the course of the novel, Ama dictates the story of her life to her son Kwame, who writes it down. Ama’s story is a revelation to him. Ask an elderly person whom you think you know quite well, perhaps a grandparent, to tell you a true story of his or her youth. Write it down as it is told to you. Read what you have written aloud to the story teller. Write a report on your experience of conducting this interview.

Kwame has been separated from his mother for many years. To start with he has difficulty in relating to her. Do you know someone who has been separated from his or her parents for a long time? What effect do you think the separation has had on the relationship between the child and the parent? Is this something they would agree to talk about, or has the experience been too painful?

What effect do you think that the Atlantic slave trade had on African society? What part did it play in world history? Can you see any surviving scars of the slave trade in the world today? In Africa? In Europe? In the Americas? Do you think it would be useful to study the history of the slave trade in Ghanaian schools? Justify your answer. Ask your parents for their views on this issue. Write a short essay on your findings.

Ama says that when she was growing up the idea of “Africa” meant nothing to her. Do you think she is telling the truth? Who do you think was responsible for inventing the idea of “Africa”? What did “Africa” mean to the European explorers, to the European slave traders, to the Africans who were their victims and to the succeeding generations of people of African descent in the diaspora? What does “Africa” mean to you? Is that a fair question? What does “Ghana” mean to you?

Ama says she will never be a Christian because it was the Christians who enslaved her. Her son Kwame has been brought up as a Christian by his white foster parents. He calls his mother a “pagan.” The slaves go to the forest to commune with their ancestors and to worship African gods with drumming and dancing. Imagine that you have been asked to take part in a debate on the proposition, “The Europeans and Arabs brought enlightenment to Africa by introducing Christianity and Islam.” Prepare an argument in favour of the motion. Then prepare an argument against it.

At the beginning of the novel, Ama’s son has a European Christian name, Zacharias Williams. Ama, however, insists on using the names he was given at his outdooring, Kwame Zumbi. At the end of the novel he no longer thinks of himself as Zacharias but as Kwame Zumbi. Ama’s birth name is Nandzi. The Asantehemaa calls her Ama. Mijn Heer de Bruyn calls her Pamela. In Brazil she is given other names. Are names important? Why did each of her owners change Ama’s name? Do you have more than one name? Which of your names describes you best?

Kwame’s father, Tomba, kills two men. He kills the first, the seaman George Hatcher, in the course of the revolt on board the ship The Love of Liberty. He kills the second, Jesus Vasconcellos, in revenge for Vasconcellos’s rape of Ama. Do you think he was justified in either of these cases? Explain your answer. Do you think there are any circumstances in which one human being is justified in killing another? What about war? Do you believe in the death penalty? Tomba was punished for both killings. Do you think the punishment was appropriate? Prepare notes for both sides of a debate on the motion, “The death penalty should be abolished throughout the world.”

Do you think there was any difference in the practice of slavery within Africa and the chattel slavery practised by the Europeans? Consider how the Asantehene Osei Kwadwo or the Fante slave trader Augusta might have justified slavery. Next, consider how a European Christian slaver, say Mijn Heer or Captain Williams, might have done so. Finally, analyse and criticize both statements from Ama’s point of view.

Put yourself in Miranda’s position and set down in writing your private thoughts about Ama. Then put yourself in Ama’s position and write a frank assessment of Miranda. Now, in your own voice, write about their relationship. Is friendship between two girls different from friendship between two boys? If so, how? What about a friendship between a boy and a girl? Can friendship overcome differences of skin colour, national origin, wealth and class? Can you imagine yourself falling in love with someone of a very different background from your own? What would your parents have to say?

Brave Music of a Distant Drum is a novel, fiction, a story. Do you think it could have happened? Look up the words plausible and authentic in a dictionary. Is the novel’s story (and Ama’s own story) plausible? Does the novel strike you as authentic? Has this novel made you think any new thoughts? Explain. Do you think fiction has any value? What value? Would you like to write a novel one day? Why? What would you write about? (Why not start now?)

The author of this book, Manu Herbstein, wrote a novel called Ama, a Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade. That book has a companion website, www.ama.africatoday.com. If you have access to the Internet, please visit it and write a report on something interesting you find there.

Ama’s home language is Lekpokpam (Konkomba). In the course of her travels she becomes fluent in Asante, Fante, English and Portuguese. Her son Kwame Zumbi grows up speaking Portuguese, the língua franca (or common language) of the Africans enslaved in Brazil. He later masters English. Do you think that Ama’s story might gain strength if told in Lekpokpam or Asante? Give reasons to support your answer.

The novel is called “Brave Music of a Distant Drum.” Search the Internet for the source of the novel’s name. You might find it in a poem and you might find the full text of the poem on the Internet. Please read it. Why do you think the author chose that name? Do you think it was an appropriate choice?


message 29: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - added it

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
I think those are great questions and activities, Manu; perfect for engaging kids and getting them to think. I'm not sure children would do much of that on their own, but as part of a reading club in school/after school (are such things common in Accra? when i was that age i participated in Junior Great Books and really enjoyed it) or as part of class discussion, i think these are great teaching tools that children would respond to.


Andrea | 660 comments Those really are good questions, because they lead the students to see the cultural resources around them as the source of stories too. In Kenya, even this level of analysis would be a big step in developing deeper literacy. Most of the "literature" discussion focuses on simple comprehension.


message 31: by Beverly (new) - added it

Beverly | 543 comments I too think they are very good questions. As there is a difference in reading and reading comprehension and the questions will help improve a student's reading comprehension.

I have a couple of comments.
I do not know about school in Ghana but in a number of schools districts would not allow the question regarding religion.

I would also recommend that when doing the reading guide/ discussion questions - that you include a heading that relates to the questions being asked. Such as Atlantic Slave Trade and then list the questions underneath the appropriate topics. Also may include an introductory sentence under the broad category.

Some school-age children when faced with having to answer discussion questions feel overwhelmed with having to think through questions/organizing their thoughts - and sometimes a change in how the material is presented makes them feel more comfortable and thus able to work through the questions.


message 32: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments Marieke, Andrea, Beverly.
Many thanks for encouragement and useful comments.
Beverly, why would school districts (presumably in the U.S.) not allow the question regarding religion? How would they implement such censorship?


message 33: by Beverly (new) - added it

Beverly | 543 comments Manu wrote: "Marieke, Andrea, Beverly.
Many thanks for encouragement and useful comments.
Beverly, why would school districts (presumably in the U.S.) not allow the question regarding religion? How would they i..."


At times what can and cannot be taught in US schools is governed by the local school board - so it is very inconsistent from place to place. And also depends on how progressive the school is and if public or private schools.
The issue of religion has become a sensitive issue in a lot of school districts and at times open discussions on religion are not encouraged and I guess on the other hand means cannot be discussed. It as has to do with the diversity of a community and how vocal parents can be and what "controversial" subjects are discussed in detail.
Unfortunately - at times people are not open to hearing/learning anything about a religion other than Christianity.

I was in a book group where we were discussing Half of a Yellow Sun and an English teacher wanted to the book to be a class discussion group for an English Honors class but couldn't because the book spoke to the issue of rape and that was not permitted in her school district.

How do they implement it - usually a parent is the one protesting and depending on their influence and the local parent group can dictate what is taught/discussed at school.

But, of course children can read what they want outside of school.

In fact when President Obama spoke before a group of students stressing how important getting an education and it was available to be livestreamed into school - several school districts decided not to based on parent groups deciding that this was not appropriate.

And yes, I was only talking about US schools.


message 34: by Yejide (last edited Apr 06, 2012 08:24PM) (new)

Yejide Kilanko | 58 comments Manu wrote: "Brave Music for a Distant Drum was published in Canada in November and the U.S. in February. (ISBN 978-0-88995-470-0)

The cover: Brave Music of a Distant Drum by Manu Herbstein

The blurb: Ama..."


Hi Manu,
I really enjoyed the questions you posted. Particularly, "Who do you think was responsible for inventing the idea of “Africa”? What did “Africa” mean to the European explorers, to the European slave traders, to the Africans who were their victims and to the succeeding generations of people of African descent in the diaspora? What does “Africa” mean to you? Is that a fair question? What does “Ghana” mean to you?"

I can see these questions sparking very interesting discussions about self-identity and self-determination. As an African (Nigerian) I found myself thinking of how the questions apply to me. And how we were never taught the history of the slave trade in school. And how because much of our history was not written down, we don't really know what happened. As one of my favourite proverbs says, "Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter."

I don't know what age range you're targeting but I was thinking that maybe you could write a clear concise set of questions for the students (something that can discuss between themselves) and also have a corresponding more critical set for questions for their teachers/parents? I'll check out your book on amazon.ca. All the best!


message 35: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments Yejide, thanks for your interesting response. I just wonder whether these are really issues that many of today's youngsters (not to speak of their teachers and parents) want to talk about. Manu


message 36: by Yejide (new)

Yejide Kilanko | 58 comments Manu wrote: "Yejide, thanks for your interesting response. I just wonder whether these are really issues that many of today's youngsters (not to speak of their teachers and parents) want to talk about. Manu"

As a parent, I would definitely discuss these issues with my child.

Having said that, I do acknowledge that youngsters in these times are more preoccupied with their present world rather than the past.

However, I still think that there is a place for this material in an educational setting and an engaging teacher can make the subject matter come alive for students.

I feel that if the teachers are able to connect the dots (in concrete terms) between the slavery era (ancestors) colonialism (grandparents) and neocolonialism (which directly impacts the lives of their parents and theirs) it would be a worthwhile project.


message 37: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments I recently linked up with Vered Ehsani, based in Nairobi, whose Africa Creates radio show (http://africacreates.net/) broadcasts interviews with African creative artists at http://www.artistfirst.com/africacrea... , reaching many radio listeners in the U.S. and worldwide. Using Skype, on Monday she conducted her first interview beyond Kenya’s borders, and it was with me! It will be broadcast live, through that link, tomorrow Thursday 12 September at noon Eastern Time (U.S), 4 p.m. GMT. Please check it out . If you miss the live broadcast the interview archive will be available, with others, on the same website.
To tie in with this interview and with GAWBOFEST, the Ghana Association of Writers annual Book Festival on 21st September, I’ve made the Kindle editions of my novel Ramseyer’s Ghost and my story President Michelle or Ten Days that Shook the World available for free download on Friday 13th, Saturday 14th, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd September, running for 24 hours from 8 am GMT each day. This is the link:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_nos...
Those who, like me, don’t have a Kindle, can download Kindle for the PC free of charge at http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html...


message 38: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments I recently linked up with Vered Ehsani, based in Nairobi, whose Africa Creates radio show (http://africacreates.net/) broadcasts interviews with African creative artists at http://www.artistfirst.com/africacrea... , reaching many radio listeners in the U.S. and worldwide. Using Skype, on Monday she conducted her first interview beyond Kenya’s borders, and it was with me! It will be broadcast live, through that link, tomorrow Thursday 12 September at noon Eastern Time (U.S), 4 p.m. GMT. Please check it out . If you miss the live broadcast the interview archive will be available, with others, on the same website.
To tie in with this interview and with GAWBOFEST, the Ghana Association of Writers annual Book Festival on 21st September, I’ve made the Kindle editions of my novel Ramseyer’s Ghost and my story President Michelle or Ten Days that Shook the World available for free download on Friday 13th, Saturday 14th, Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd September, running for 24 hours from 8 am GMT each day. This is the link:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_nos...
Those who, like me, don’t have a Kindle, can download Kindle for the PC free of charge at http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html...


Andrea | 660 comments congratulations,Manu! I had not been aware of this program before so will check it out.


message 40: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments Leading U.S. publisher dumps prize-winning African novel of the Atlantic Slave Trade without explanation: a call for solidarity.

On August 26, 2015, Open Road Integrated Media, the publisher of my novel Ama, a Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, wrote to me as follows: “We have decided to revert the rights to you.”

They followed this with a request for me to sign a document which read in part as follows: “The parties hereby confirm that the Agreement will terminate in all respects effective as of September 30, 2015 (the “Termination Effective Date”).

Termination. I had a vision of a condemned man being led to the gallows. A harassed bureaucrat pursues him with a sheet of paper. “Please, sir, you must sign this,” he begs. It is a form of consent to the victim’s own execution.

I didn’t sign. Open Road put the termination into effect without my consent.

In what follows I tell the back story, describe my response and ask you, as a gesture of solidarity and support, to perform a simple task, probably cost-free, which will help to bring Ama back into print in the U.S.A.

Publishing history
Ama was first published in the U.S. by E-Reads in 2001. In 2002 it won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Best First Book. In April 2014 Open Road took over E-Reads’ list, including Ama. My formal written contract with E-Reads had long since expired but our relationship had continued as if it were still in effect. Open Road agreed to continue on the same basis, honoring the E-Reads year 2000 contract. At their website, they described the Ama as colorful, entrancing, gripping, deeply engrossing, spellbinding and unforgettable.

Open Road
Open Road Integrated Media boasts on its website that it publishes “more than 2000 authors, 10,000 books.” In the second quarter of 2015 it sold 156 copies of Ama.

Use in Academia
Over the years, Ama has been taught at several U. S. universities including Harvard (Prof. Emmanuel Akyeampong), East Carolina University (Prof. Kenneth Wilburn), Carleton College (Prof. Martin Klein, University of Toronto) and Boston University (Prof. Heidi Gengenbach, University of Massachusetts). Students visiting Ghana from Grand Valley State University under the leadership of Prof. Sherry Johnson have twice used Ama as the focus of their studies as have others from East Carolina University. This fall Prof. Rebecca Shumway is teaching Ama at the College of Charleston in a HIST 361-02 course entitled West Africa in the Era of the Slave Trade. Her syllabus is available on-line.

Enter Worldreader
“Worldreader is on a mission to bring digital books to every child and her family, so that they can improve their lives.” In 2013 I entered a story in ShortStoryDayAfrica’s annual competition. One of the conditions of entry was that the published stories would be donated to Worldreader. Earlier this year I read that Worldreader has launched its cellphone app. I downloaded the app to my phone and searched on my surname. My story, The Dibbuk, was there. So too, to my astonishment, was Ama, free to read in its entirety. A web search revealed the following.

Danielle Zacarias of Worldreader, August 18, 2014: “…today, am very excited to announce our partnership with Open Road. Over 260 new books have been added to our programs, to be read by children and their families in 22 developing countries. Some of our favorites include…Ama – the spell binding story of Nandzi, captured and traded as a slave in the days of the transatlantic slave trade.”

Worldreader, Aug 31, 2015: “Thanks to a new partnership with Opera Software we've connected 5 million readers in Africa to a library of 25,000 free digital book titles via their mobile phones. And we're just getting started! Our goal is to reach 10 million readers by the end of 2015. Join this reading revolution today.”

I consulted my publisher in Ghana. She was not happy, particularly since she was currently investing funds in a new print run.


I pulled out my E-Reads contract and read:

No license of any subsidiary rights that may exist or come into existence with respect to any right granted hereunder shall be made by E-Reads without the prior approval of Content Provider.

Open Road had not sought my approval.

I briefed the legal department at the NYC-based Authors Guild. This was their advice:

Yes, then Open Road breached the agreement. You should contact them and demand they have your material removed.

I didn’t do that. All I did was to send them a polite message, asking them to brief me on the relevant contractual situation.

Would you please let me have a copy of Open Road’s agreement with World Reader? Have you licensed rights to any other parties?

They didn’t reply. Instead they informed me that they would cease to publish Ama as from the end of September.

Worldreader later wrote to me as follows:

Your book is published by Open Road Media, with which we have an agreement. They had agreed to let us distribute your book (among others, to which they have global digital rights) to our e-reading projects in Sub Saharan Africa and on our mobile application (which, though available Worldwide, has geo limitations which makes certain books - like yours - only available within Sub Saharan Africa.) … This was done as part of a donation of digital books from Open Road to people who would otherwise not have access to these books.
If there has been an error here of some kind or if you would like to have your book withdrawn from our program we will certainly remove it from our library immediately. We can also further limit the geo availability of the book to exclude certain countries within Sub Saharan Africa as well if this would be useful.

Worldreader acted honorably. They implicitly acknowledged my suggestion that they should have exercised more care in vetting Open Road’s rights by removing the book from their app without delay.

I share Worldreader’s commitment to the use of cell phones for the development of children’s literacy. However, Ama is not a children’s book. Open Road had no right to donate it to Worldreader without requesting my permission.

An article in the Spring/Summer 2015 Authors Guild Bulletin, considers a similar program, sponsored by President Barack Obama, which is being launched for children of low-income families in the U.S. I quote:

The Authors Guild supports literacy programs—especially programs like this, aimed at encouraging kids to become lifelong readers…

Many publishing agreements do not allow for royalty-free donations for charitable purposes, although some do. In any event, all of the publishers we have spoken with are either asking authors’ permission or allowing authors to opt out.

Authors who wish their books to be kept out of the program are encouraged to contact their publishers. Based on preliminary conversations with publishers, we have every reason to believe they will be cooperative in carrying out their authors’ wishes.

It seems that Open Road is an exception, in my case at least. They responded to my temerity in questioning their breach of my rights by inflicting on me, the novel and potential future readers, the cruel and unwarranted punishment of rendering the book “out of print.”

Some time ago, when I complained to E-Reads about Open Road’s failure to make a P.O.D edition of the novel available and to report and pay royalties on time, they told me that Open Road’s publisher is a “leading advocate of African authors [who has] published or rescued many a book in the field.”

Searching the Open Road website on “Africa” I found 61 authors, including Edgar Wallace, Edgar Rice Burroughs and H Rider Haggard; also, it is true, E R Braithwaite, Alice Walker and Ishmael Reed; and white South African author Troy Blacklaws. But not one black African writer.

I pondered the reason for Open Road’s crass action and decided to offer them one last opportunity for sober reflection. I mobilized scholars, writers and friends to send them short email messages, urging them to review their action. I quote just one of these messages, with the permission of the writer, Martin Klein, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Toronto.

I am sorry to hear that your publishing house plans to suspend publication of Manu Herbstein's Ama. This is not only a fine and very readable novel, but it is also the best single introduction to how the slave trade operated within in Africa. It takes a young girl through different stages, starting with her enslavement in northern Ghana and ending in Brazil, and for each, depicts the way the society in question was part of the slave trade and how Ama was treated. I used it with great success in a number of courses dealing with slavery in Africa and have recommended it to other scholars just as the fine Ghanaian historian, Emmanuel Akyeampong first recommended it to me. It gives student[s] a vivid picture of the different actors in the trade, both slave and free. I urge you to maintain this fine novel in print.

To me, he added:
I am baffled that Ama has not had greater success. It is unfortunately not in the hands of a publisher will[ing] and able to promote it.

On September 21, Open Road responded:

Open Road has made the decision not to continue publication of AMA and that decision is now final. As such, we respectfully request that you cease and desist from continuing your email campaign to keep the book in print through Open Road. As you know, there are other avenues for you to publish your book, including self-publishing avenues. We suggest you focus your efforts on these options.

Enter Inkshares.

Inkshares

Inkshares is an innovative book publisher that has readers, not agents or editors, decide what they publish. They publish any work that successfully hits a pre-order threshold on their platform. Any author can submit a proposal for a book. Once the project goes live, readers are invited to support the project by pre-ordering copies of the book. Readers are charged only when pre-orders for their chosen book reach the specified target. Once that pre-order target is attained, Inkshares starts publishing. If the pre-order goal isn't met, no transaction takes place.

Inkshares issues Credits, which can be used like money on the Inkshares platform to back or purchase any book. When you sign on at Inkshares you receive a credit of $5. For your first review of a project (say, Ama) you receive another $5 credit. For the first new reader you introduce for a project, you receive a $10 credit, provided that your introduction leads to a purchase. If any project you back receives 2000 orders you get yet another $10 credit, with a repeat at 5000 orders.
On October 23, Inkshares announced that new rules will come into effect at noon PST on October30. Until that deadline, it will you cost you just $10 to place a pre-order for Ama. The pre-order target is 1000 copies. You will be charged only if and when that target is reached. Shipping is free, worldwide.

For orders placed after the October 30 deadline, the pre-order target will be reduced to 750 copies. The pre-order price will rise to $20 per paperback and $30 per trade hardcover. An e-book will be included at no extra cost. There will still be no charge for domestic shipping but for all other destinations there will be a charge of $15 per order.

So, please rush to place your order before the deadline. This is a real bargain, just $10 per book, even less when you take Inkshares Credits into account. If you live outside North America, even more so. This is the link:

Inkshares

Once there, please click on PRE-ORDER under READER or, for three copies, under SUPER-READER.

While there, please watch the Vimeo movie, read the first chapter of Ama and extracts from reviews and browse the other Inkshare books.

Many thanks
Manu Herbstein
Accra, Ghana


Andrea | 660 comments This is an excellent opportunity to buy a splendid book. Thanks for sending the info, Manu.


Andrea | 660 comments My only question pertains to format. Please forgive my "density". Am I able to order the book as a bound copy or is it only as an ebook?


message 43: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments My understanding is that you get both for the price of one, that is, the ebook comes free with the paperback.
My long post hit the Goodreads length limit and I had to leave this out: Inkshares has set up a group in Goodreads at which there is a free interaction between those running the show and the Inkshares authors. Open to all and worth a visit.
This is the friendliest and most innovative publisher I've ever encountered. I really do hope that Ama meets their target.


message 44: by Jack (last edited Oct 27, 2015 08:10PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jack (jack_wool) | 3 comments Mr. Herbstein,
Your work AMA is used as a key text for a Comparative Slavery Class at Fitchburg State University and taught by Dr. René Reeves. Your novel is used in conjunction with works by Klein, Lovejoy and others.
Our midterm essay was "How does the account of an enslaved African’s life, as depicted in the novel Ama: A Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, fit with the historical literature and documentary evidence that we have consulted in this course so far?"
This has been an awesome class and I also read Brave Music of a Distant Drum in preparation for the midterm essay. Your extensive supporting website provided a rich list of resources for further exploration of the book and its context.
Given the material and your novel, this class was my first choice upon retirement and returning to college. It would be a huge loss to both readers and students if a US print version of AMA were no longer available. It has been an immensely enriching experience to spend two months with your novel as a key resource.
Respectfully yours,
Jack Wool
Ayer, MA, USA


message 45: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments Jack (if I may), many thanks for those kind words of support. Manu


message 46: by Jack (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jack (jack_wool) | 3 comments My pleasure sir.
Jack


message 47: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - added it

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Manu, I haven't had a chance yet to read completely through what happened with your book, but I am glad you found a solution with Inkshares. I also am of the mind that it is a fantastic book that more people should read and needs to stay in print!


message 48: by Manu (new) - added it

Manu (manuherb) | 165 comments Thanks Marieke. Inkshares needs 750 pre-orders before they decide to publish. I do hope that many members of this group will decide to pre-order. This is the link:

https://www.inkshares.com/projects/am...

Manu


message 49: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - added it

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Manu wrote: "Thanks Marieke. Inkshares needs 750 pre-orders before they decide to publish. I do hope that many members of this group will decide to pre-order. This is the link:

https://www.inkshares.com/projec..."


i only have a prior e-version; would love to have the printed book. I'll have to place my pre-order this evening from home. Sorry i missed the original deadline!


message 50: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new) - added it

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Some members may be irked with me, but i have sent out a message about this pointing everyone to this thread. I am sure there are members among us who would want to know about this book and this publishing issue, but don't check threads regularly.


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