James Odhiambo

Looking forward to the Nairobi International Book Fair 2016

The Nairobi International Book Fair 2016, the 19th annual one, starts today at the Sarit Centre and runs until the 25th September.

The Nairobi International Book Fair 2016 will be at the centre of African literary story in East Africa as the oldest fair in the region rolls into town. The festival is really a merchant’s event as publishers from across the continent and the world converge on Nairobi to do their deals. This means that you will always find fewer author events at this book fair than your typical literary bonanza.

Even with this, there are events that authors will feature that fans will be interested in. On Friday, the winner of the Burt Award for African literature will be announced. This award which goes to a writer who novelist has written a favoured Young Adult novel will see Tony Mochama, Goro wa Kamau and Alice Gichuru in the running for hundreds of thousands of Kenyan shillings. This is probably the richest prize in Kenyan writing so you want to check it out.

The Wahome Mutahi Prize isn’t as rich but it has more prestige as it has been in the market for longer and this years winner will be announced on Saturday. In the running for that prize which is for English and Kiswahili titles are Peter Kareithi, Anthony Mugo, Ng’ang’a Mbugua, Tom Olali, John Habwe and Jeff Mandila. Both prizes will be awarded at invite only events.

Away from the awards, the program has scheduled for a few book launch type events from Moran Publishing as well as Chanjing Publishing and Media. There are also a few opportunities to learn at the fair. The Bloggers Association of Kenya will be doing a workshop on blogging and social media, writing and promoting a blog as well as on copyright and fair use. That will be very cool for those want to learn more about the web side of writing.

The main activities at the fair are the opportunity to visit one of the most diverse book markets around as publishers share their wares to the publishers. There will be 59 exhibitors competing for your attention from all the different arms of the publishing business. We here are interested mainly in fiction so we will be excited to welcome South Africa’s Modjaji Books at the fair courtesy of the Goethe Institute. Modjaji books which focuses on Southern African women writers has published Helen Moffett, Sindiwe Magona, Yewande Omotoso and many more.

Apart from our South African visitors, you can find some of the usual suspects in Kenya publishing featured like Moran Publishers, Longhorn Publishers, Focus Publishers, Kenya Literature Bureau, Spotlight Publishers, Jomo Kenyatta Foundation and many more.

The next few days will also see a large influx of kids into the Sarit Centre as they are led around on school trips.

So if you have a few hours and want to see what is on offer in the Kenyan and African publishing industry, then I suggest that you head out to the Sarit Centre. The fair ends on Sunday September 25th.


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