Its Black: The Literary Salon


‘WRITING STORIES, Making Histories’ is the third and final in the debut annual series of Black: The Literary Salon.

Launched in February of this year by Cassava Republic Press, in collaboration with A+F Creative, the team has confirmed Salon #3’s first two authors: Ayesha Harruna Attah and Emma Dabiri.

In a thought-provoking online salon that aims to challenge the audience to consider their own relationships with history, both authors will read from their works using it as an entry point to discuss how the writing of stories is a prelude to making new histories as they assert the priority of black histories and existence.  

Cassava Republic Press announced the salon themes at their debut salon in February at the Ace Hotel, Shoreditch.

Following ‘Love & Desire’ with Diana Evans, Irenosen Okojie and Olumide Popoola, Salon #2 explored ‘Maleness, Masculinity & Selfhood’ with authors Paul Mendez, Elnathan John and Thando Mgqolozana.

Salon #3: ‘Writing Stories, Making Histories’ just so happens, like our second in the series – pushed back a month due to the global pandemic – to be broadcast at a timely moment in history.

Salon #2 went live after three weeks of international protesting after the police killing and murder of George Floyd. Salon #3 comes at a time when the world is still confronted with violent and systemic racism.

Combined with the changing of seasons, we naturally undergo a sense of hindsight as we begin to review the life-changing events 2020 has brought upon us.

It is here that we begin to reflect on our past histories and employ these narratives and accounts as checkpoints for progress and guides for our future.

The salon will once again take place virtually, opening the event up to a global audience, with essayist and novelist Panashe Chigumadzi returning to moderate.

Through their work, Attah and Dabiri will each explore the relationship between history and narrative, cruelty and desire, hair and cosmology, agency and choice, gender and race as they insert Black lives and perspective into global history.

Attah is an author of four novels (Harmattan RainSaturday’s ShadowsThe Hundred Wells of Salaga; and a forthcoming young adult novel, The Deep Blue Between), who actively explores untold and overlooked aspects of African history in her fiction.

Attah’s commitment to expanding our understanding of Africa and its history,  in her exploration of the domestic slave trade in pre-colonial Africa in The Hundred Wells of Salaga, and her centring of black women‘s lives, has a natural synergy with Salon #3. 

Named as one of the BBC’s Broadcasting Stars of the Future, and an Observer Rising Star (2019), Dabiri is a television presenter, social historian, and writer. 

Dabiri has been invited to take part in the salon because of how her personal story of gendered experience of race and belonging is explored through the reality and symbolism of hair as she exposes the connection between philosophy and tradition, cosmology and science, the political and the personal in her ground-breaking book, Don’t Touch My Hair.

The title serves as a testament to how self-narration can contribute to history and theory, turning the act of writing into a form of curation, that is a perfect fit for Black: The Literary Salon.

Salon #3 will be hosted online on Thursday 24 September at 7pm (BST). Tickets for the event are on a sliding scale starting at £6 and available via Eventbrite: More authors will be announced in the coming weeks.

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