My Top Moments in African Literature in 2015

by - 21:28

It has been another awesome year for African literature - the 2015 Windham Campbell Prizes winners for fiction were all African writers (Teju Cole, Helon Habila and Ivan Vladislavic); Uzodinma Iweala's Beast of No Nation got its film adaptation thanks to Cary Fukunaga and Netflix; Chigozie Obioma's debut, The Fishermen, seemed to have a good year, being named FT's Emerging Voices Award fiction winner and shortlisted for a number of awards including The Man Booker and the Etisalat Prize for LiteratureAnd the books - so many wonderful books published this year, including Ankara Press' Valentine's Day Anthology - seven short romance stories, which were also translated into the different language spoken by the authors, as well as amazing debuts (Sweet Medicine by Panashe Chigumadzi) and fiction in translation (Natives by Inongo Makome and Our Musseque by Jose Luandino Vieria).  


With 10 days to go until the year ends, instead of a round-up of everything that happened in African Literature in 2015, I'm sharing my top moments. In no particular order, here they are:

Wonder Women
Women writers were unstoppable this year - Namwali Serpeli won the 2015 Caine Prize winner and shared her prize money; Laila Lalami was the first Moroccan-born author to be longlisted for the Man Booker Prize with her historical fiction, The Moor's Account (which also won the 2015 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award for fiction); women writers dominated the 2015 Morland Writing Scholarships and Wonder Woman came to Soweto thanks to Lauren Beukes'. 

There was also Nnedi Okorafor, who was recently named Brittle Paper's African Literary Person of the Year 'for the many ways in which African inspires innovation in her approach to storytelling'. This year she published a novel (The Book of Phoenix), a novella (Binti), a children's book (Chicken in the Kitchen) and her feature film, The Camel Racer, which she created with Wanuri Kahiu was one of 8 films selected for the inaugural Triggerfish Story Lab, which aims to aid African writers and directors in developing their craft over a period of 18 months and beyondAnd then there was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People, having the Swedish edition of her book, We Should All Be Feminists, given to every 16-year-old in Sweden, Half of the Yellow Sun crowned the 'Best of the Best' of the Bailey's Prize (yes, it is a prize for women writers, but still ...), her commencement speech at Wellesley College, the New York Public Library Podcast also shared the podcast with Adichie and Zadie Smith from late last year.

The Wonderful World of SF
At the end of 2014, Omenana was launched and this year has given us some oh so amazing SF works. Including Nnedi Okorafor's books listed above, Jalada's Afrofuture(s), SSDA's Terra Incognito, SL Grey's Underground, Rob Boffard's Tracer, Ivor Hartmann's edited volume AfroSF volume 2, Jo Thomas and Margret Helgadottir's edited volume African Monsters, Nikhil Singh's Taty Went West, Fred Strydom's Raft, Cristy Zinn's The Dreamer's Tears and Andrew Miller's Dub Steps

Debut Nigerian Novels 
Nigerian fiction was on fire this year, and there were so many debut novels - Irenosen Okojie's Butterfly Fish, Chigozie Obioma's The Fishermen, El Nathan John's Born on a Tuesday, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim's Seasons of Crimson Blossoms, A. Igoni Barrett's Blackass, E C Osondu's This House Is Not For Sale, Tade Thompson's Making Wolf, Chinelo Okparanta's Under the Udala Trees, Ifeoluwapo Adeniyi's On the Bank of the River. Speaking about Nigerian literature, BBC Radio 4 treated us to a 2-part series on a new generation of Nigerian writers and poets. The programme featured Dami Ajayi, A Igoni Barrett, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Wana Udoabang and Lola Shoneyin to name a few.

The A's of Literary Festivals 
Because it's not only about reading, but about celebrating the joy of reading and literature in many different ways, and this year I had the pleasure of attending not one, but two amazing literary festivals dedicated to all things African literature - Africa Writes in London in July and the Ake Festival in Abeokuta in November. This fangirl of African literature could not ask for anything more.

#Love4Binya and #Naija4Binyavanga
The way the African literary community came out to support Binyavanga Wainaina after he suffered a stroke and was later flown to India for treatment. A Medical Fund was set up by Kwani Trust, in Lagos there was a fundraising event while in Nairobi as part of the Kwani Litfest, there was a #Love4Binya concert.  So much love, and truly inspiring! Wishing him a speedy recovery.

Image via BrittePaper

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