The fastest growing and Innovative telecommunication company, Etisalat Nigeria (Etisalat.com.ng), has announced the names of the three shortlisted authors for the 2016 edition of its pan-African flagship literary prize, the Etisalat Prize for Literature (Prize.Etisalat.com.ng).
According to this year’s Chair of Judges, Helon Habila “In addition to originality of voice and literary excellence, our purpose was to also select a work that portrays an African sensibility”.
The three shortlisted books are:
Jacqui L’Ange (South Africa) The Seed Thief (Umuzi Publishers, South Africa);
Jowhor Ile (Nigeria) And After Many Days (Kachifo Limited, Nigeria);
Julie Iromuanya (Nigeria) Mr & Mrs Doctor (Coffee House Press, USA).
The authors were shortlisted by a three-member judging panel comprising Nigerian novelist and poet, Helon Habila (Chair of Judges); South African writer/activist, Elinor Sisulu; and Ivorian writer and Africa39 laureate, Edwige Renée Dro.
The winner for the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature will be unveiled at the Grand Finale in Lagos, scheduled to take place in March 2017.
Commenting on the success of the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature, Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, commended the judges for their diligence in selecting the top three books out of the tens of titles that were received following the call for entry.
He said, “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 birthed the top three finalists”.
Willsher reiterated Etisalat’s commitment to continuously having an impact on the lives of Nigerians and indeed Africans by offering them innovative products and services and more importantly a platform that enables them to express their passion and creativity. “At Etisalat, we have found the nexus between innovation and creativity. This is why we give people the opportunity to express their individuality and ingenuity so they can be the best in whatever they choose to do”, he enthused. He further added that Sarah Ladipo Manyika will be joining other renowned literary personalities as a patron of the prize.
The Etisalat Prize for Literature is the first pan-African Prize that celebrates debut African writers of published book-length fiction. It is open solely to debut fiction writers from African countries resident anywhere in the world. Now in its fourth year, it is acknowledged as the most prestigious literary prize for African fiction. The Etisalat Prize for Literature also incorporates an award for Flash Fiction, which is an online-based competition for non-published African writers of short stories.
The winner of the Prize receives £15,000, an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück pen, an Etisalat sponsored book tour to three African countries as well 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 the shortlisted writers will also enjoy a sponsored multi-city book tour while Etisalat will also purchase 1,000 copies of their books for distribution to schools, libraries and book clubs across Africa with the objective of promoting the reading culture and the publishing industry at large.
The past winners of the Etisalat Prize for Literature include Fiston Mwanza Mujila from The Democratic Republic of Congo (Tram 83; 2015); South African novelist Songeziwe Mahlangu (Penumbra, 2014) and Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo (We Need New Names, 2013).
To underscore the flagship status of the literary prize, the Etisalat Prize for Literature boasts of the following distinguished Patrons: the acclaimed writer Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana); Pulitzer Prize Winner Dele Olojede (Nigeria); editor, critic and 2015 Man Booker Prize Judge, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, OBE (British/Zimbabwe); editor, writer, broadcaster, consultant and co-founder of Allison & Busby, Margaret Busby, OBE (British); writer and lecturer Sarah Ladipo Manyika (PHD) (Nigeria/British) and novelist, poet and playwright Zakes Mda (South Africa).
About the Judging Panel
Nigerian-born Helon Habila is an award-winning author and an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University, USA. His novels include Waiting for an Angel (2002), Measuring Time (2007), and Oil on Water (2010). His current book is a work of nonfiction, The Chibok Girls (2016). His novels, poems, and short stories have won many honours, including the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Novel (Africa Section), the Caine Prize, The Library of Virginia Annual Literary Award for fiction and most recently the Windham-Campbell Prize. Habila has been a contributing editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review since 2004, and is a regular reviewer for the Guardian, UK.
Elinor Sisulu is a Zimbabwean-born South Africa writer and human rights activist. Elinor Sisulu combines training in history, English literature, development studies and feminist theory from institutions in Zimbabwe, Senegal and the Netherlands. She is the author of the award-winning children’s book The Day Gogo Went to Vote (1996). Her biography on her parents-in-law, Walter and Albertina Sisulu: In Our Lifetime secured her the prestigious 2003 Noma Award for publishing in Africa. Elinor’s involvement in book promotion and literary development efforts for many years culminated in her work with the Puku Children’s Literature Foundation. She has been a judge for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, the Sanlam Youth Literature Prize and the Penguin Africa Writer’s Competition.
Edwige-Renée Dro is an Ivorian writer who is passionate about bridging the literary gap between the Francophone and the Anglophone regions of Africa. She translates for PEN International as well as Global Voices Online. She worked on the translation of Les Cités Fantastiques (The Fantastic Cities), a coffee-table book featuring poems and paintings by Werewere Liking. Edwige is one of the founding members of Abidjan Lit, a collective of writers and readers whose furious passion is to impose books in Abidjan and in its home. She was one of the 2015 PEN International New Voices award’s judge and was shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2014. She was also one of the featured writers in the Hay Festival’s prestigious initiative Africa39.