African Lives: An Anthology of Memoirs and Autobiographies

Funding for:

about my venture

In spring 2013, my anthology African Lives: An Anthology of Memoirs and Autobiographies will be published by Lynne Rienner Publishers.

The first book of its kind

As far as I know, no one has ever before published an anthology that brings
together a collection of African authors — men and women of all ethnic groups,
born and raised on the continent — telling the stories of their own lives in
their own words.

It’s not because there’s any lack of material. Some African memoirs are famous, like Aké: The Years of Childhood by Wole Soyinka, The Dark Child by Camara Laye, and No Easy Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. Many more are just as dramatic and well-written, yet hardly known.

Why hasn’t a book like this appeared before?

One reason is permission fees. Some works are out of copyright and can be
reprinted for free, but the rights to many others are held by publishers,
agents, or the authors themselves. In some cases it’s necessary to pay three
separate fees for the US, the Commonwealth, and the rest of the world.

It’s a lot of work to chase down permissions. In one case I followed a trail
from Heinemann (the original publisher) to Pearson to Allison & Busby to
W.H. Allen to Virgin Books to Random House. And it’s expensive. I would also
like to translate sections of three memoirs that have never appeared in

My publisher has generously offered a grant toward the cost of permissions,
and I am adding my entire advance for the book. But that still leaves an
estimated $3,000 for me to raise.

If you're interested in Africa...

If you’re interested in Africa, or in memoir, or if you’re just an
adventurous reader, I hope you’ll want to support this project — and I hope
you’ll want to read the book for yourself.

Whether or not I reach my goal, you will get a modest reward for your
generosity. And you will know that you’re doing your part to bring the voices
of some amazing African writers to light.

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  • elevator pitch

    African Lives is the first anthology to showcase memoirs from across Africa. Your help with permission fees will make this the best book possible.

  • backer rewards

  • Postcard

    If you donate $10 or more, you’ll get a postcard with a photo of the book and a handwritten thank you.

    5 backers

    $10.00+ pledge
  • Gourmet chocolate

    If you donate $50 or more, you’ll get a postcard thank-you and a big bar of Madécasse gourmet chocolate from the island of Madagascar.

    4 backers

    $50.00+ pledge
  • Your name in the book

    If you donate $100 or more, you’ll get a postcard thank-you, a big bar of Madécasse gourmet chocolate, and a thank-you by name in the book.

    7 backers

    $100.00+ pledge
  • Your own copy of African Lives

    If you donate $200 or more, you’ll get a postcard thank-you, two big bars of Madécasse chocolate, a thank-you in the book, and an autographed paperback copy of African Lives.

    6 backers

    $200.00+ pledge
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about entrepreneur

Geoff Wisner

Author and Editor

Geoff Wisner is an essayist and book reviewer with a focus on Africa, the Caribbean, and environmental issues. His work appears in the Christian Science Monitor, The Quarterly Conversation, Warscapes, and Words Without Borders.

He is the author of A Basket of Leaves: 99 Books That Capture the Spirit of Africa and editor of the upcoming anthology African Lives: An Anthology of Memoirs and Autobiographies.

Geoff was born and raised in upstate New York, and earned a degree in English and American literature and language from Harvard University. As the Assistant Director of the US office of the International Defense and Aid Fund for Southern Africa, he worked for the legal defense of political prisoners in South Africa and Namibia. He has also lived and worked in Zimbabwe. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

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