Series: RadioBook Rwanda
Titles: Relationships (Eric Mutsinzi), Modern Myths (Jimmy Tuyiringire) and Resistance (Annick La Reine Shimwa)
Publisher: RadioBook Rwanda
Price: £6 individually (£18 as a bundle).
Relationships, resistance and modern myths are explored in three short stories by new multimedia literary imprint RadioBook Rwanda.
RadioBook Rwanda showcases Rwandan and East African creative voices and is the brainchild of three publishers: Huza Press (Rwanda), Kwani Trust (Kenya) and No Bindings (UK).
The three innovatively designed ‘radiobooks’ are the first wave of publications, featuring one writer and one artist plus an accompanying podcast that acts as the expanded universe of the book. Eric Mutsinzi and Nduta Kariuki are the writer and artist respectively featured in the Relationships radiobook with Jimmy Tuyiringire and Souls in Modern Myths and Annick La Reine Shimwa and Jess Atieno in Resistance.
In Waiting for Words, Mutsinzi presents the pain, vulnerability and hopeful reconciliation of a couple coming to terms with the fact they can’t have children. In The Thunder Hunter, Tuyiringire deftly weaves modernity and myth into a reflection on history and tradition in this adaptation of Rwandan folklore. In Shimwa’s The Sykes Are Woke, humour is found amidst conflict and resistance.
Punctuated throughout the stories, Kariuki, Souls and Atieno’s artwork create a striking paratext. One stares long into the realistic portraits by Kariuki. Soul’s street art is just as expressive on the page as it is on the walls of Kigali while Atieno creates compelling images in her collaged compositions.
The aural aspect of this imprint is in the accompanying podcasts, where the stories are narrated by Natacha Muziramakenga (Waiting for Words), Hervé Kimenyi (The Thunder Hunter) and Malaika Uwamahoro (The Sykes are Woke). This audible narration adds a new dimension to the tales; rainfall, people laughing, bottles being opened, songs played on the radio, and the silence of a sleeping house make the stories come to life.
RadioBook Rwanda have created an incredible paratext of aural, visual and written content that enriches the reader’s experience of these three stories. As a reader, the encounter with each story is significantly altered when switching between mediums; Mutsinzi’s neatly scored storytelling makes Waiting for Words a very visual story but the podcast lends a cinematic quality to this episode in Keza and Gasana’s relationship.
Tuyiringire’s story offers reflections on colonialism and tradition; on whose terms do we define modernity and at what cost? Shimwa’s story also has a colonial backdrop, presenting strong female characters as leaders/agents of the resistance, but is let down by clunky composition and phrasing.
RadioBook Rwanda’s first publications offer a unique reader experience and new, promising voices which I look forward to encountering again.
The dramatised narration of Eric Mutsinzi’s Waiting for Words and the podcast exploring the story’s universe are available to listen now on Soundcloud. The release dates for the other podcasts are:
Thursday 13 December 2018, The Sykes are Woke
Shama, the leader of the Sykes, is due at the Junior Tigers’ closing ceremony. But how did she become the leader, and why is she so angry?
Thursday 20 December 2018, Resistance
In this podcast, Lucky Grace and Eloise explore the universe of The Sykes Are Woke, written by Annick La Reine Shimwa. Eloise chats to Annick in Mauritius, Beverly chats to Jess Atieno, who provided the artwork for the book, and Hyppo talks to his mother, Bernadette, about becoming the chief of her village after the genocide.
Thursday 27 December 2018, The Thunder Hunter
Rutarindwa dies under mysterious circumstances and his brother, Karamera, is forced to confront a family secret.
Thursday 3 January 2019, Modern Myths
In this episode, Lucky Grace and Eloise explore the universe of The Thunder Hunter, written by Jimmy Tuyiringire. Eloise chats to Jimmy, who then takes her and Lucky Grace to Muzanze to meet his grandmothers. They tell us all they know about fighting thunder as well as a few imigani, or folk tales. Back in Kigali, Souls, who did the artwork for the book, take Eloise and Lucky Grace to see their street murals.