When NoViolet Bulawayo (Pictured), author of novel, We Need New Names emerged as the first winner of the Etisalat Prize for Literature in 2013, African literature was reinvigorated.
The Etisalat Prize for Literature celebrates the first fiction book from a new African writer published in the last 24 months. Whether a collection of short stories or a novel, each work must be above 30,000 words.
Since the prize came into existence, its winners have come from different parts of the continent and claimed the award with a diversity of writing forms. Songeziwe Mahlangu’s Penumbra clinched the 2014 award with its quick pace and intense subject matter, while Fiston Mujila’s experimental work of word art, Tram 83 clinched the prize last year amidst approving cheers.
The contenders for the 4th Etisalat Prize for Literature have been whittled down to a shortlist of 3 fresh writers. They are Jowhor Ile for his novel, And After Many Days set in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria during a tumultuous regime; Jacqui L’Ange for her novel, The Seed Thief that skillfully draws a perfect square around Brazil, Botany, Bellai, and Bahia; and Julie Iromuanya with Mr. & Mrs. Doctor, a novel about conflicts arising from the pursuit of the American Dream.
This year’s judging panel is chaired by Associate Professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University and master storyteller, Helon Habila. Edwige-Renée Dro and Elinor Sisulu will also be on the panel entrusted with selecting a winner. What does the winning package include?
For starters, there is the prize money of 15,000 British Pounds, a high end device, and a fellowship at Angola’s University of East Anglia. In order to promote work done in the publishing industry, Etisalat will purchase 1,000 copies of all three shortlisted books to be donated at book clubs, libraries, and schools across the continent.
Who will take this year’s prize? Past prize winners have come from Zimbabwe, South Africa, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. With two Nigerians, Julie and Jowhor, on the shortlist this year, the odds are in favor of a Nigerian winning author. Still, the South African, Jacquie’s The Seed Thief has the highest score among the three novels listed on Goodreads. Come March 25, 2017, all speculations will be called off and a winner revealed. Ahead of this date, there will be readings in Kenya and Nigeria by all three shortlisted authors.