Press Release: African Folktales
Selected and retold by Roger D. Abrahams
Foreword by Wole Soyinka
Introduced by Roger D. Abrahams
Illustrated by Keith Hau
‘Earthy, comedic, and covering a wide spectrum, [these] tales of sultans, of animals who act like people, and of lovers’ struggles [also] teach moral lessons. The result is a rousing good read’
new york times book review
TThis collection, newly revised for The Folio Society, contains 90 stories retold by Roger D. Abrahams, former Professor of Folklore and Folklife at the University of Pennsylvania. Featuring tales from across the African continent, Abrahams has sought to preserve the individual voice of each storyteller. The result is an essential collection that showcases the remarkable vitality and diversity of African folktales.
Western audiences, familiar with tales that provide a distinct beginning, middle and end, may find that African folktales are not so easily measured. Rather than read in isolation on the page, these stories are meant to be performed to an audience, and an interactive one at that. The storyteller may be interrupted by someone who claims to know a better version of the story, or even ousted from his or her position, while endings are often left open. This interactive approach invites discussion, argument and debate, even as it strengthens a sense of community with a shared knowledge and heritage. In his revised introduction to this edition, Abrahams compares this method of storytelling to jazz, likening the voices of the storytellers to the instruments in a piece of music: ‘Each instrument remains separate, even at the point at which all of them play together.’
Wole Soyinka, celebrated Nigerian poet and playwright and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, has contributed a powerful new foreword examining the relevance of these stories in the modern world, and their potential to ‘unleash the imagination’. Keith Hau’s dynamic illustrations, with their colourful, multi-layered depictions of people and animals, have captured the intense energy of a remarkable tradition.
Bound in paper blocked with a design by the artist. Set in Fairfield with Gill Sans display. 336 pages. 8 full-page colour illustrations. Integrated black & white decorations. Printed endpapers. 9½˝ x 6¼˝.
UK £34.95 US $57.95 Can $72.95 Aus $72.95
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