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Monday, 10 November 2014

A Look at the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature Longlist

On November 4th 2014, Etisalat Nigeria announced the longlist for the 2nd Etisalat Prize for Literature, which according to Chair of Judges Sarah Ladipo Manyika "is reflective of the great diversity presented by the full list of submissions this year". The press release can be found here

In this post I look at the longlisted novels, of which Matthew Willsher, Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria explains, “Five of the nine finalists are books authored by women; one of the nine finalists is a Nigerian citizen and two are from Nigeria/American and Nigerian/Ghana decent. The longlist also features writers from South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe”.
 
Nadia Davids is an award-winning South African writer (plays, articles, short stories, screenplays). in her debut novel, An Imperfect Blessing, it is 1993. South Africa is on the brink of total transformation and in Walmer Estate, a busy suburb on the vertiginous slopes of Devil’s Peak, fourteen-year-old Alia Dawood- clumsy, combative, given to big speeches and a terrible dress-sense – is about to undergo a transformation of her own. She watches with fascination and fear as the national drama unfolds and longs to be a part of what she knows to be history-in-the-making. And in the months before the election, her intense, radical Uncle Waleed reappears, forcing her parents and sister Nasreen to confront his subversive and dangerous past. Nadia David's first novel moves across generations and communities, through suburbs to the city centre, from the lush gardens of private schools to the dingy bars of Observatory, from landmark mosques and churches to the manic procession of the Cape Carnival, through evictions, rebellions, political assassinations and first loves. The book places one family's story at the heart of a country's rebirth and interrogates issues of faith, race, belonging and freedom.
 
Justin Fox is a South African travel writer and photographer. In his debut novel Whoever Fears the Sea South African scriptwriter Paul Waterson is in Kenya to carry out research for a documentary film. It's October 2001, and his relationship has come to an end. Searching for solace in Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu, he becomes obsessed with finding the last remaining mtepe dhow in Somalia, a magnificent, sewn vessel harking back to Africa's rich maritime past. But getting someone to take him into Somali waters proves near impossible. When he does manage to talk a dhow captain into the journey, he and the crew are oblivious to the dangers that lie ahead.

Imran Garda is a journalist and news anchor. In his debut novel The Thunder That Roars, Yusuf Carrim has made it in New York. His tech-savvy coverage of the Arab Spring saw his journalism career skyrocket. But when his wealthy father asks him to help look for Sam, a missing family friend, he must return to South Africa. Yusuf’s search takes him to places he could never have imagined. Enlisting the help of an eccentric professor and Sam’s exotic uncle, Yusuf discovers facts that undermine a lifetime’s assumptions about his own identity – and prompt him to step up the search for Sam before it is too late. From the suburbs of Johannesburg to the streets of Bulawayo, from Dubai airport to an immigrant facility on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, Yusuf’s quest to find Sam turns into an inward journey of his own.

Penumbra, South African writer - Songeziwe Mahlangu debut novel - is a product of his Creative Writing Masters degree. In Penumbra, Mangaliso Zolo is a hapless recent graduate, still living in the southern suburbs of Cape Town near the university. Manga has an office job at a large insurance company, but he is anonymous and overlooked in this vast bureaucracy. Penumbra charts Manga's daily struggles with mental illness and the twin pull, from his many friends and acquaintances, between a reckless drug-fuelled lifestyle and charismatic Christianity. The novel brings an alternative experience of Cape Town to life, one far removed from both the gloss of tourism brochures and the familiar poverty of the Flats. Mahlangu's voice is unlike anything South African literature has yet seen and this debut novel dissects young, urban slackers in South Africa with startling precision.

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist and short story writer. Her debut
novel Kintu won the Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013. In 1754, Kintu Kidda, Ppookino of Buddu Province, in the kingdom of Buganda, sets out on a journey to the capital where he is to pledge allegiance to the new kabaka of the realm. Along the way, a rash action in a moment of anger unleashes a curse that will plague his family for generations. Time passes and the nation of Uganda is born. Through colonial occupation and the turbulent early years of independence, Kintu’s heirs survive the loss of their land, the denigration of their culture and the ravages of war. But the story of their ancestor and his twin wives Nnakato and Babirye endures. So too does the curse. In this ambitious tale of a family and of a nation, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi skilfully weaves together the stories of Kintu’s descendants as they seek to break with the burden of their shared past and to reconcile the inheritance of tradition and the modern world that is their future.

Reward Nsirim is a Nigerian writer whose fiction has been published in Electrica and Sentinel Nigeria. Fresh Air and other stories is a collection of sixteen short stories about the oddities of corruption, ill-handled security and other absurd nuances that has become the norm in the Nigerian state. From a renowned international scholar who is intellectually reduced and left redundant in a parastatal, to an honourable horned only in the skills of braggadocio and helping ladies out of their lingerie, Reward Nsirim’s Fresh Air is a balanced diet of satire, wit and urban panache in creative writing. Reward Nsirim paints several scenarios of Nigeria with a comical and skilful brush. Fresh Air lampoons the 'fresh air' promises of democratic dispensations in Nigeria and open’s the readers to the comparative realisation of the deceit of carpetbaggers, legislators, praise singers, demanding relatives and citizens who contribute to the sleaze that has besmirched the country’s values of governance.

Taiye Selasi is a writer and photographer of Nigerian and Ghanian origin who wrote the
seminal text Bye-Bye, Barbar (Or: What is an Afropolitan?) in 2005. In her debut novel Ghana Must Go Kweku Sai is dead. A renowned surgeon and failed husband, he succumbs suddenly at dawn outside his home in suburban Accra. The news of Kweku’s death sends a ripple around the world, bringing together the family he abandoned years before. Ghana Must Go is their story. Electric, exhilarating, beautifully crafted, Ghana Must Go is a testament to the transformative power of unconditional love, from a debut novelist of extraordinary talent. Moving with great elegance through time and place, Ghana Must Go charts the Sais’ circuitous journey to one another. In the wake of Kweku’s death, his children gather in Ghana at their enigmatic mother’s new home. The eldest son and his wife; the mysterious, beautiful twins; the baby sister, now a young woman: each carries secrets of his own. What is revealed in their coming together is the story of how they came apart: the hearts broken, the lies told, the crimes committed in the name of love. Splintered, alone, each navigates his pain, believing that what has been lost can never be recovered—until, in Ghana, a new way forward, a new family, begins to emerge. Ghana Must Go is at once a portrait of a modern family, and an exploration of the importance of where we come from to who we are. In a sweeping narrative that takes us from Accra to Lagos to London to New York, Ghana Must Go teaches that the truths we speak can heal the wounds we hide.

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is a Zimbabwean author whose short stories have appeared in anthologies including the 2010 Caine Prize Anthology, Bed Book of Short Stories and Where to Now? Short Stories from Zimbabwe (amaBooks, Zimbabwe 2011, Parthian Books, UK 2012). With this debut novella and collection of short stories the reader is introduced to a startling new voice in African literature. Novuyo Tshuma sketches, with astounding accuracy, the realities of daily life in Zimbabwe and the peculiar intricacies of being a foreigner in Johannesburg. Vivid, sparse and, at times, tragically beautiful.

Chinelo Okparanta was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. She is the author of 'America' (2012), which was shortlisted for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing. In her debut collection, Happiness, Like Water, Chinelo Okparanta introduces us to families burdened
equally by the past and the future. Here, we meet a childless couple with very different desires; a college professor comforting a troubled student; a mother seeking refuge from an abusive husband; an embittered spinster recalling the loss of a dear childhood friend; and a young woman waiting to join her lover abroad. High expectations - whether of success in Nigeria, or the dream of opportunity and accomplishment in America - consume them. In language that is both raw and elegant, Okparanta's stories are often told from the point of a view of a child - a little girl, an adult daughter. Her closely observed characters populate stories that offer a clear-eyed view of an often traumatic family life, questioning the purpose of their time on earth, and whether there is a hereafter, or a different kind of afterlife altogether, outside of Port Harcourt.
It is 1993. South Africa is on the brink of total transformation and in Walmer Estate, a busy suburb on the slopes of Devil’s Peak, fourteen-year-old Alia Dawood is about to undergo a transformation of her own. She watches with fascination and fear as the national drama unfolds, longing to be a part of what she knows to be history in the making. As her revolutionary aspirations strengthen in the months before the elections, her intense, radical Uncle Waleed reappears, forcing her parents and sister Nasreen to confront his subversive and dangerous past.
Nadia David’s first novel moves across generations and communities, through the suburbs to the city centre, from the lush gardens of private schools to the dingy bars of Observatory, from landmark mosques and churches to the manic procession of the Cape Carnival, through evictions, rebellions, political assassinations and first loves. The book places one family’s story at the heart of a country’s rebirth and interrogates issues of faith, race, belonging and freedom.
An Imperfect Blessing is a vibrant, funny and moving debut
- See more at: http://www.randomstruik.co.za/books/an-imperfect-blessing/5395#sthash.9c8bg4rg.dpuf
It is 1993. South Africa is on the brink of total transformation and in Walmer Estate, a busy suburb on the slopes of Devil’s Peak, fourteen-year-old Alia Dawood is about to undergo a transformation of her own. She watches with fascination and fear as the national drama unfolds, longing to be a part of what she knows to be history in the making. As her revolutionary aspirations strengthen in the months before the elections, her intense, radical Uncle Waleed reappears, forcing her parents and sister Nasreen to confront his subversive and dangerous past.
Nadia David’s first novel moves across generations and communities, through the suburbs to the city centre, from the lush gardens of private schools to the dingy bars of Observatory, from landmark mosques and churches to the manic procession of the Cape Carnival, through evictions, rebellions, political assassinations and first loves. The book places one family’s story at the heart of a country’s rebirth and interrogates issues of faith, race, belonging and freedom.
An Imperfect Blessing is a vibrant, funny and moving debut
- See more at: http://www.randomstruik.co.za/books/an-imperfect-blessing/5395#sthash.9c8bg4rg.dput is 1993. South Africa is on the brink of total transformation and in Walmer Estate, a busy suburb on the vertiginous slopes of Devil’s Peak, fourteen-year-old Alia Dawood- clumsy, combative, given to big speeches and a terrible dress-sense – is about to undergo a transformation of her own. She watches with fascination and fear as the national drama unfolds and longs to be a part of what she knows to be history-in-the-making. And in the months before the election, her intense, radical Uncle Waleed reappears, forcing her parents and sister Nasreen to confront his subversive and dangerous past…
It is 1993. South Africa is on the brink of total transformation and in Walmer Estate, a busy suburb on the slopes of Devil’s Peak, fourteen-year-old Alia Dawood is about to undergo a transformation of her own. She watches with fascination and fear as the national drama unfolds, longing to be a part of what she knows to be history in the making. As her revolutionary aspirations strengthen in the months before the elections, her intense, radical Uncle Waleed reappears, forcing her parents and sister Nasreen to confront his subversive and dangerous past.
Nadia David’s first novel moves across generations and communities, through the suburbs to the city centre, from the lush gardens of private schools to the dingy bars of Observatory, from landmark mosques and churches to the manic procession of the Cape Carnival, through evictions, rebellions, political assassinations and first loves. The book places one family’s story at the heart of a country’s rebirth and interrogates issues of faith, race, belonging and freedom.
An Imperfect Blessing is a vibrant, funny and moving debut
- See more at: http://www.randomstruik.co.za/books/an-imperfect-blessing/5395#sthash.9c8bg4rg.dpuf
It is 1993. South Africa is on the brink of total transformation and in Walmer Estate, a busy suburb on the slopes of Devil’s Peak, fourteen-year-old Alia Dawood is about to undergo a transformation of her own. She watches with fascination and fear as the national drama unfolds, longing to be a part of what she knows to be history in the making. As her revolutionary aspirations strengthen in the months before the elections, her intense, radical Uncle Waleed reappears, forcing her parents and sister Nasreen to confront his subversive and dangerous past.
Nadia David’s first novel moves across generations and communities, through the suburbs to the city centre, from the lush gardens of private schools to the dingy bars of Observatory, from landmark mosques and churches to the manic procession of the Cape Carnival, through evictions, rebellions, political assassinations and first loves. The book places one family’s story at the heart of a country’s rebirth and interrogates issues of faith, race, belonging and freedom.
An Imperfect Blessing is a vibrant, funny and moving debut
- See more at: http://www.randomstruik.co.za/books/an-imperfect-blessing/5395#sthash.9c8bg4rg.dpuf

2 comments:

  1. Great post.
    I haven't read any of these novels...

    ReplyDelete
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