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Literary Publishing After Nigerian Independence: Mbari as Celebration


In the sixties, the Mbari club gave hope that independent Nigeria would become the new center for the publishing of plays, novels, and poetry by African writers. The seventeen Mbari titles, from West African countries and South Africa, as well as Nigeria, were to be centrally important in the establishment of African literature. Mbari was faced with a daunting challenge: a Nigerian publisher of literary work could not afford to reach the market throughout English-speaking Africa and the Commonwealth. This paper examines publishing by Mbari and the involvement of British publishers across the decade, as individual editors persuaded their colleagues to buy international rights to new work from Nigeria. It draws on both personal experience working in African literary publishing at that time alongside a range of published sources, concluding with a discussion of the impact of the Biafran war on Nigerian literary publishing.

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