By Edward Nawotka
LONDON: Wasafiri is the Kiswahili word for “travelers.” It is also the name of the esteemed UK literary quarterly focused on international writing. Founded in 1984 by Susheila Nasta, the magazine celebrates its 25th anniversary this month with 25 writers offering their picks for the book that most shaped world literature since the magazine’s inception. Among those offering their thoughts are Aminatta Forna, who picked The Famished Road by Ben Okri; Amit Chaudhuri, who opted for Collected Poems by Elizabeth Bishop; and Marina Warner, who was of two minds, writing:
“Obama’s Dreams from My Father is definitely the most influential book historically, but it is also a work of literature too, beautifully written, and the product of deep, open-hearted reflection. But I’ll also propose that the kinds of stories gathered from the witnesses at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, as collected, re-told and shaped by the Afrikaans poet Aintje Krog in her book Country of My Skull have had a huge impact on literature’s sense of its own mission. Her appointment as official rapporteur was an act of exceptionally inspired patronage, because personal testimony to atrocity has come to inspire every branch of writing, from fiction to memoir.”
READ: Wasafiri’s list of 25 of the best books from the past 25 years.