Fatou and the Kora - Our Newest Published Story

What can I say about this story?
I guess to begin I can say it's the eighth story from The English Schoolhouse, my little boutique cupcake of a love place where I publish all the books and stories that I believe should be shared. I've only been writing and publishing professionally for a little over two years now. The Ghanaian Goldilocks, my first story, came out in July of 2014.

Fatou and the Kora takes place in West Africa as well--in a place full of beauty and wonder called Dakar, Senegal. As a writer and a publisher, I feel very drawn to stories that accurately represent the Diaspora. I like to honor the ancestors before and within me who surely had thousands of beautiful stories to share, but were not given the opportunity to do so in written form...or whom chose not to because many of the traditional West African stories and tales are shared orally.

In this story, the main character, Fatou, is a griot--or a generational oral storyteller. It's her gift...a fact that proves to be a bit problematic, as girls in her region of the country are not permitted to play the kora.

In my real life, the kora (or the African harp) is a staple in my existence. I adore it.
I first heard the kora played on the streets of Rome by a griot named Madya Diebate. 

By stopping and listening to him, and beginning a conversation, I found a very good lifelong friend named Silvia Balossi Restelli, who has traveled to Senegal with Madya as his student and is also very gifted with the instrument.

Silvia in my bedroom in Rome about to tune the kora
 a few days after I gave birth

Two years later both Madya and Silvia are staples in my life and my heart and our home. 
Madya comes to play the kora for my audiobooks, or when I have the blues, or when I have an idea knocking on my imagination's door that needs a little extra nudge to be pulled gently into reality. Silvia drops by whenever she can to sing and chant for our new baby Zen, and tune the kora--

What gifts.

Of course the story wouldn't be what it has become without the gorgeous art of master Italian painter Elena Tommasi Ferroni...

She took the inspiration of such a gorgeous location and culture and people--

Madya's family in Senegal

And visually translated it into breathtaking accurate high art that fits the story like a glove--

Art prints are available via my online art gallery, The Nef Gallery. If you're interested in an original or a print, you can email [email protected].

And just because projects this beautiful always contain a bit of magic.
Here in Rome, a very lovely man by the name of Moussa, works at a store just under my home. It just so happens that the father in Fatou and the Kora is named Moussa.

Looks a bit like Madya, right?

So a few weeks ago Moussa and I were chit-chatting outside about the project and when he could stop by my house for a minute or two as he'd graciously agreed to lend his voice to the audiobook for Fatou and the Kora. 

While we were talking and trying to decide on a day, a smart car pulls up and the driver hops out and begins making small talk. People are stopping and starting to take photos. Moussa asked him for a picture and I took it--

Once the man left I turned to Moussa and asked, "Who was that?"
To which Moussa replied, "I can't believe I got a photo of him!"

So all that must mean that the universe loves this book, right?
I hope you do too.
I certainly do.

Enjoy the audiobook for Fatou and the Kora here--

And of course you can purchase your copy of the book via The English Schoolhouse's website--

If you enjoy the work, it'd be lovely for you to share it.
Thank you.

All the whimsy and wonder and beauty and grace

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