New £15,000 Prize to Raise Profile of Pan-African Literature

In Growth Markets by Dennis Abrams

Etisalat Book Prize Shortlist 2013

By Dennis Abrams

The Nigerian branch of UAE telecommunications company Etisalat has announced the 2013 shortlist for the Etisalat Prize for Literature.

This is the award’s first year, and is the first Pan-African literary prize created to recognize and reward debut fiction writers in Africa. The winner will be presented with a check for £15,000, an engraved Montblanc Meisterstuck and will attend The Etisalat Fellowship at the University of East Anglia, mentored by Professor Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland.

The shortlisted novels are:

Bom Boy by Yewande Omotoso (Modjaji Publishers)
Finding Soutbek by Karen Jennings (Holland Park Press)
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (Little, Brown and Company/Chatto & Windus UK) —

The shortlist was chosen during a retreat in Morocco where the judges met to discuss the nine longlisted books. Pumla Gqola, Chair of the Judges, said, “We discussed each of the books on the long list in quite some detail, although considerably more time was dedicated to those books that were ranked differently by the judges. We are quite pleased to have reached yet another important milestone in the young life of the Prize.”

Sarah Manyika Ladipo said “The diversity of these debut novels, both on the level of content and narrative style, makes this a very exciting shortlist. Whether it is Bulawayo’s coming of age story set in the context of contemporary global migration, or Omotoso’s cross-cultural tale with its slowly unfolding secrets and interconnected narratives of love and loneliness, or Jennings’ multilayered exploration of history and allegory, each story is uniquely compelling. These are African stories with universal resonance. All three novels traverse time and space and at their core, each addresses the basic human condition.”

Billy Kahora added, “The shortlist reflects what I had hoped for as a judge when I became involved with the Etisalat Prize for Literature – the recognition of the best, diverse and emerging voice(s) of contemporary African fiction today.”

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony in Lagos on February 23, along with the winner of the Etisalat Prize for Literature Flash Fiction, which is given to an unpublished author based on an entry of 300 words or less.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.