Kwani? Manuscript Prize Shortlist Announced

manuscript-logo2The Kwani? Manuscript Project, a new one-off literary prize for unpublished fiction from African writers, is delighted to announce a shortlist.

The seven shortlisted titles, selected from a longlist of 30, are:

Ayobami Adebayo, Stay with Me (Nigeria)

Ayesha Harruna Attah, Saturday’s People (Ghana / US)

Stanley Gazemba, Ghettoboy (Kenya)

Toni Kan, The Carnivorous City (Nigeria)

Timothy Kiprop Kimutai, The Water Spirits (Kenya)

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, The Kintu Saga (Uganda / UK)

Saah Millimono, One Day I Will Write About This War (Liberia)

Read a short biography and synopses for each of the seven shortlisted authors and manuscripts here.

The shortlist has been selected, without the author’s name attached, by a high-profile panel of judges including Deputy Editor of Granta magazine Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, leading scholar of African literature Professor Simon Gikandi, Chairman of Kenyatta University’s Literature Department Dr. Mbugua wa Mungai, editor of Zimbabwe’s Weaver Press Irene Staunton and internationally renowned Nigerian writer Helon Habila. The Chair of Judges, award-winning Sudanese novelist Jamal Mahjoub, said:

‘The five judges of the Kwani? Manuscript prize 2013 have carefully worked through a longlist of 30. These showed a wide range of styles, subjects and regional concerns. The judges were primarily looking for works that show promise in terms of the writing itself as well as the breadth and depth of vision brought to bear by the authors. The final shortlist of seven entries reflects the overall consensus of the judges and summarises their individual interests.’

These seven novels from five African countries take us through the underbelly of Lagos, class divisions in Nairobi and war-torn Monrovia, through families cursed, self-destructing and reuniting, bringing new scrutiny to the epic, dictatorship and points-of-view in stories that are brave, tender and beguiling.

Kwani Trust’s Managing Editor, Billy Kahora said, ‘In reviewing the shortlisted stories, I’m blown away by the potential these manuscripts hold, the different styles, concerns and voices that they bring to new contemporary African literature, and further add to Kwani’s fiction list. We can’t wait to bring them out as novels in the region and partner with publishing houses across the continent to make them available across Africa.’

The Kwani? Manuscript Project was launched in April 2012 and called for the submission of unpublished novel manuscripts from African writers across the continent and in the diaspora. The prize received over 280 qualifying submissions from 19 African countries.

The top three manuscripts will be announced on Monday 1st July 2013 and will be awarded cash prizes totaling Ksh 525,000 (c. $6000).

In addition, Kwani Trust plans to publish 3-5 of the shortlisted manuscripts by April 2014. The Trust will also be partnering with regional and global agents and publishing houses to secure high profile international co-publication opportunities.

We wish to thank the following organisations for their support, advice and help launching this new literary prize: Africa Book Club, African Books Collective, African Writers Trust, Arterial Network, Association of Nigerian Authors, Bakwa Magazine, Black Book News, Book Slam, British Council, Caine Prize, Cassava Republic Chimurenga, Commonwealth Foundation, Femrite, Ghana Association of Writers, Ghana Book Publishers Association, Goethe Institut, Granta, Jungle Jim, Malawi Writers Union, Mazwi, Pambazuka, PEN Sierra Leone, Royal Africa Society, Samandari, Saraba Magazine, Sea Breeze Journal, Spoken Word Rwanda, Storymoja, The Star, Uganda Modern Literary Digest, Wamathai, Wasafari, Writers Association of Botswana, Writers International Network Zimbabwe, Writers’ Project for Ghana, Zambia Women Writers Association, Zimbabwe Women Writers.

Kwani Trust is also indebted to Lambent Foundation for financial support towards the administration of this project, as well as the Prince Claus Fund for a Euros 25,000 prize in recognition of the Trust’s work that acted as seed money for this project.

For further information, images or interviews, please contact:

Kate Haines, Associate Editor, Kwani Trust

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