While there are many different prizes for literature to pay attention to, there is a new one to watch out for. This one is called the Etisalat Prize and it is a Pan-African prize that celebrates first time authors that have citizenship to any country in the continent. This prize is not only exciting because it is the first of its kind that promotes the booming publishing industry coming out of Africa, but also because it celebrates new talent and important books that people should be exposed to. According to Matthew Willsher, Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Nigeria, “The novels in this year’s longlist represent a good number of African publishing companies.” Thus hosting an array of voices and experiences.
Judging books that were published in the past 24 months was no easy task for the judges, though the list was narrowed down to 9 authors, followed by a shortlist and a winner which will be chosen in March of 2017. On top of winning the award, the recipient will also receive £15,000 ($18,213), an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück pen, and an Etisalat-sponsored fellowship at the University of East Anglia packaged with a mentorship by renowned Professor Giles Foden. Quite an exciting package for any author to establish themselves.
Here are the 9 authors and their works:
1. Mr. and Mrs. Doctor by Julie Iromuanya
Ifi and Job are a Nigerian couple who start out their arranged marriage in Nebraska with a lie that will prove troubling to overcome. A great debut about new starts, and the pasts that come back to haunt us.
2. Dub Steps by Andrew Miller
Dub Steps is an interesting blend of science fiction and realistic fiction in an effort to philosophize what existence is. Taking place in Johannesburg, Andrew Miller has explored the extraordinary sense of being alive.
3. The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo
The Yearning takes place in Cape Town and revolves around the life a young woman named Marubini whose life is going well, until her past comes back and starts rehashing the pain of her youth.
4. Piggy Boy’s Blues by Nakhane Toure
Piggy Boy’s Blues is a portrait of the M. Family, a royal family who is past its prime and no longer the glorious bunch they once were. This is an interesting look at how families interact with one another and the community as they age and no longer remain bonded.
5. The Peculiars by Jen Thorpe
Nazma and Sam meet at the Centre for Improved Living and are facing their phobias that are getting in the way of their lives. With only a four week stay, they need to overcome their fears and try to live normal lives.
6. And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile
Set in Nigeria, a family is grappling with their loss after their 17 year old son goes missing. All the while, the nation is at turmoil, causing more grief for the family and community. An evocative and important novel to read!
7. Nwelezelanga: The Star Child by Unathi Magubeni
A philosophical novel about love and doing the right thing, even when people say otherwise. Nokwakha gives birth to an albino baby, Nwelezelanga, who people say should be killed. Yet, the baby lives and you follow his life in this magical story.
8. Born on a Tuesday by Elnathan John
Set in Nigeria, this book revolves around the coming of age of a young male who is trying to find his place in his community, though religious and political ideas are tearing it apart.
9. The Seed Thief by Jacqui L’Ange
Maddy Bellani goes to Brazil to uncover a special species of plants, but realizes she is also going against pharmaceutical companies and the self-interests of others. L’Ange combines equal parts love story, historical tale, and natural science in this touching novel.
Which books have you read from this list? Would you recommend another book for the award?
YouTube Channel: Etisalat NG
Featured image via Omenka Online
h/t All Africa