We are thrilled to announce the shortlist for our first-ever African Literary Award!
Our judges, African Book Club Co-Founder, Faith Adiele; Director of Public Programs, Elizabeth Gessel; and Senior Public Programs Manager, Nia McAllister selected the following three novels and two memoirs for the inaugural award, taking into consideration the strength of the writing and its ability to highlight new stories, the scope and longevity of the authors’ community literary initiatives, and the potential impact of the award on said communities.
The five shortlisted authors are as follows:
Sulaiman Addonia, Silence Is My Mother Tongue: A Novel (Graywolf Press 2020)
Wayétu Moore, The Dragons, The Giant, The Women: A Memoir (Graywolf Press 2021)
Sisonke Msimang, Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home (World Editions 2018)
Rémy Ngamije, The Eternal Audience of One: A Novel (Simon & Schuster 2021)
Mũkoma Wa Ngũgĩ, Unbury Our Dead With Song (Cassava Republic Press 2021)
The final winner will be announced on International Literacy Day, September 8, 2022. Join us on September 25th for a virtual awards ceremony to celebrate the selected author. The awards ceremony will include video clips from the five finalists’ appearances at African Book Club, as well as a live reading and conversation with the winner.
Generous funding for the African Literary Award has been provided by MoAD member, Cedric Brown, a supporter of arts in the diaspora.
About the Shortlisted Authors
Eritrean-Ethiopian author Sulaiman Addonia, who spent his early life in a refugee camp, sets his delicate, formally-inventive second novel, Silence Is My Mother Tongue, in a Sudanese refugee camp, exploring the impact of war on female and queer bodies and voices. As the founder of a Creative Writing Academy for Refugees and Asylum Seekers and the Asmara-Addis Literary Festival (In Exile), as well as co-founder of the To Speak Europe in Different Languages Literary Prize, he continues to promote the importance of storytelling as survival.
Liberian author Wayétu Moore’s second book, The Dragons, The Giant, The Women, a memoir almost as fantastical as her debut novel, documents her family’s escape from Liberia after war breaks out and journey to America when she is just a child. By returning to Monrovia to open One Moore Bookstore, a bookstore, nonprofit doing advocacy and curriculum development for children of countries with low literacy rates and underrepresented cultures, and until 2020, a publisher, she is, as she puts it, ‘engaging with craft through service.’
The daughter of South African political exiles, writer Sisonke Msimang documents her political education and search for identity and home across Zambia, Kenya, Canada, USA, and finally Free South Africa in Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home. Her position as Head Story Trainer at the Centre for Stories in Perth, which works with migrants and refugees, uses her expertise for others, while her journalism, human rights work, and policy analysis inform her role as Literature & Ideas curator for Perth Writers Week.
Namibian writer Rémy Ngamije was born in Rwanda, and his inventive, hilarious debut novel, The Eternal Audience of One, rockets through eras and locations with youthful zest, creating a cultural mashup of Rwanda, Windhoek, Paris, Brussels, Nairobi and Cape Town. Its energetic author is founder, chairperson, and artministrator of Doek, an independent arts organisation in Namibia supporting the literary arts, editor-in-chief of Doek! Literary Magazine, Namibia’s first and only literary magazine, and founder of the Bank Windhoek Doek Literary Awards and the Doek Literary Festival.