Literature & literary studies:

Greetings from Grandpa


Paperback / softback

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Greetings from Grandpa by Jack Mapanje
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Jack Mapanje was imprisoned without trial or charge by Malawi's dictator Hastings Banda for nearly four years, chronicling his prison experiences with dogged wit in his previous books. In Greetings from Grandpa - his sixth collection - Mapanje is still effervescent, with his wry humour defiantly intact. Some treacherous African tyrants may have been deposed or died horrific deaths, leaving their snoops in exile washing cars to survive - but these are mere metaphors of another life. The narratives in Greetings from Grandpa are mellow and cheerful testimonies of the sojourn of the human spirit as it survives freedom under implausible circumstances, whether at home or in exile. Grandchildren are born, calming the nerves of exile; dear friends back home die of AIDS, unsettling gentle memories; China and Asia arrive in Africa and nobody raises a finger; greedy bureaucrats syphon billions from accountant general's coffers; but Africa marches on regardless, stubbornly celebrating life, sometimes in traditional symbols; sometimes by inventing delightful beef festivals.The collection also includes Mapanje's version of Kalikalanje, a well-known legend among the Yao speaking African peoples of Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, whose trickster hero comes into the world endowed with knowledge of past, present, future times and events. Kalikalanje is a lover of life, freedom, peace, truth, justice, and above all, fun. His enemies try to kill him only to bring destruction on themselves instead. This age-old tale has universal appeal - and is popular with children - but its symbolic, social-cultural-political nuance makes it especially relevant in today's world of persistent liars and impostors. Jack Mapanje's previous collection, Beasts of Nalunga, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2007. His earlier work - including the prison poems - is available in The Last of the Sweet Bananas: New & Selected Poems (2004).

Author Biography

Jack Mapanje was head of the Department of English at the University of Malawi when the Malawi authorities arrested him in 1987 after his first book of poems had been banned, and he was released in 1991 after spending three years, seven months and sixteen days in prison, following an international outcry against his incarceration. His books include The Last of the Sweet Bananas: New & Selected Poems (2004), Beasts of Nalunga (2007) and Greetings from Grandpa (2016) from Bloodaxe, and the prison memoir, And Crocodiles Are Hungry at Night (Ayebia Clarke Publishing, 2011), He lives in exile in York with his family, and is a visiting professor in the faculty of art at York St John University.
Release date NZ
May 26th, 2016
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Bloodaxe Books Ltd
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