Stressing ‘an African Sensibility,’ Etisalat Prize Announces Shortlist

In News by Dennis Abrams

The top prize in this pan-African, award program for debut authors includes the Etisalat Fellowship at the University of East Anglia.

From the Etisalat Prize for Literature site

By Dennis Abrams | @DennisAbrams2

‘Originality of Voice’
In November, Publishing Perspectives reported on the announcement of the longlist for the Etisalat Prize for Literature.

Helon Habila

Now, the telecommunications sponsor behind the program, Etislat Nigeria, has announced the names of the three titles shortlisted for the prize. The Etisalat is a highly-regarded literary award, pan-African in scope.

With the revelation of the shortlist, Helon Habila, this year’s jury chair, is quoted, saying, “In addition to originality of voice and literary excellence, our purpose was to select a work that portrays an ‘African sensibility.’”

In 2013, Habila and Parresia Books opened Cordite Books, which is dedicated to publishing African crime and detective stories.

Etisalat’s Shortlist

The titles were selected by a three-member judging panel comprising Habila, who is a Nigerian novelist and poet; South African writer/activist Elinor Sisulu; and Ivorian writer and Africa39 laureate Edwige Renée Dro.

Etisalat Nigeria CEO Matthew Willsher has congratulated the judges for their work in selecting the top three books, saying, “This is by no means a simple task.

“The role of the judges is quite enormous and we want to thank them for the attention and dedication to the entire review process which berthed the top three finalists.”

The Etisalat Prize’s program is intended to celebrate debut African writers of published book-length fiction. It’s open solely to debut fiction writers from African countries, no matter where they live. The award also incorporates an honor for flash fiction in an online-based competition for non-published African writers of short stories.

The winner of the Prize receives £15,000 (US$18,300); an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück pen; an Etisalat-sponsored book tour to three African countries; and an Etisalat-sponsored fellowship at the University of East Anglia, mentored by Professor Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland.

In addition, all shortlisted writers are given a sponsored multi-city book tour, while Etisalat has committed to purchasing 1,000 copies of their books for distribution to schools, libraries, and book clubs across Africa. The overall objective of such outreach efforts is to promote a culture of reading and the publishing industry.

The winner of the prize is to be named in Lagos at an event in March.

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.