When Dinty W. Moore selected my book as the Autumn House winner, he only had one suggestion: change the title. I’d sent the manuscript in as, A Sliver of Shade: Six Years in an African Village. Dinty suggested, So Many Africas: Six Years in a Zambian Village.

So, my first decision regarding the publication was the title itself.

Usually I’m very decisive about my writing. So, I don’t know what happened here, but I came to a complete standstill and couldn’t make up my mind. It felt too big. I sent an email out to some writer friends and took their suggestions. The answers came back split 50/50.

A Sliver of Shade: “This title is both evocative of hardship and relief.”

“This title is too soft. I don’t like it.”

So Many Africas: “This title reminds me of Out of Africa and I am immediately intrigued.”

I emailed Autumn House Press, feeling attached to ‘my’ title. “Let’s go with A Sliver of Shade.”

Okay. I was being silly and over thinking it all. I Googled the title. There were ten books with the title A Sliver of… A Sliver of Hope…of Redemption…of Truth…of Shadow…of Light.Wow. There were no books even close to So Many Africas.

I email Autumn House again, feeling stupid.

“So, can I change my mind and go back to Dinty’s choice of a title? Promise I won’t even think about it again after this email.”

AHP graciously wrote back, Sure. No problem. So here it is.

So Many Africas: Six Years in a Zambian Village.

Like it or not, the decision is made. If you don’t like it, well, you can write a book and I give you free rein to my unused, old, thrown away (I still like it but sorry, just had to decide) title.

PHOTO: Picture taken by my dad, Luangingwa River, Kalabo Zambia, 1986

Jill Kandel
  • Gianna
    Posted at 11:35h, 25 September Reply


    I’d have said a A Sliver of Shade.
    But it’s so popular.

    So So Many Africas.

    But still.

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 12:38h, 25 September Reply

      Did you ever buy – or not buy – a book because of its title?

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 12:40h, 25 September Reply

      Sorry, Gianna. I guess you’ll have to take that title. 🙂

  • Angela A.
    Posted at 11:12h, 23 April Reply

    Hello Jill!! I have just finished your book which I read in the bus travelling from Mongu to Lusaka. I got back from spending two nights in Kalabo just yesterday so I couldn’t believe my luck when I started your book and saw about the years you spent living there!!

    I’m an Australian woman based in Mongu so I have an insight into the isolation you experienced and the tough situations you witnessed.

    Thank you for generously and honestly sharing your memories of life in this part of the world!!

    • Jill Kandel
      Posted at 07:52h, 24 April Reply

      Angela, It was so surprising and lovely to hear from you. What a strange thing that you are reading my book and just coming back from being in Kalabo! What kind of work do you do? I’m curious how you found out about my book. Thank you so much for commenting! I wish you joy on your own journeys!

Post A Comment