2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature Shortlist

This year is the inaugural prize for the Etisalat Prize for Literature.  It is the first Pan-African literary prize created to recognize and reward debut fiction writers in Africa.  The winner will receive a £15,000 cheque.  The shortlist was released on 22 January after a retreat in Morocco where the judges narrowed down the prize finalists. (official press release)  The winner will be announced in a ceremony on the 23 February 2014.  Here are the shortlisted finalists:

Cover_BomBoy_Front_300-dpi1-194x300Bom Boy by Yewande Omotoso

Leke is a troubled young man living in the suburbs of Cape Town. He develops strange habits of stalking people, stealing small objects and going from doctor to doctor in search of companionship rather than cure. Through a series of letters written to him by his Nigerian father whom he has never met, Leke learns about a family curse; a curse which his father had unsuccessfully tried to remove. Bom Boy is a well-crafted, and complex narrative written with a sensitive understanding of both the smallness and magnitude of a single life.

Finding Soutbek by Karen Jenningssoutbek_hires-186x300

The focal point of the novel is the small town of Soutbek. Its troubles, hardships and corruption, but also its kindness, strong community and friendships, are introduced to us in a series of stories about intriguingly interlinked relationships. Contemporary Soutbek is still a divided town – the upper town destitute, and the lower town rich, largely ignorant – and through a series of vivid scenes, the troubled relationship between Pieter Fortuin, the town’s first coloured mayor, and his wife Anna is revealed. In so many ways the past casts a long shadow over the present, not in the least through the unreliable diaries of Pieter Meerman promoted by Pieter Fortuin and Professor Pearson, a retired white historian. They give us a unique insight into the lives of the seventeenth-century Dutch explorers, and hint at a utopian society, suggesting that Soutbek is the birthplace of assimilation and integration. The blossoming friendship between Anna, Sara, a foundling, and Willem, Pieter Fortuin’s nephew, is unsettled by David, Anna’s and Pieter’s son. His father has bought David a bright future, but when he comes back from boarding school David appears alienated from his father and from his old friend, the former gardener Charles Geduld, just as Anna starts to accept him as her son. Is there hope, or are we left with Willem’s conclusion that ‘he would spend the rest of his life working off the debt of his family’s poverty’? A moving story that paints a thought-provoking picture of life in contemporary South Africa.

BULAWAYO_WeNeedNewNames-1-194x300We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo’s belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad.  But Darling has a chance to escape: she has an aunt in America. She travels to this new land in search of America’s famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few. NoViolet Bulawayo’s debut calls to mind the great storytellers of displacement and arrival who have come before her-from Junot Diaz to Zadie Smith to J.M. Coetzee-while she tells a vivid, raw story all her own. 

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Verity M

Writer. Love Reading, Photography, & Life Design. I'm all about Curiosity & Creativity.

7 thoughts on “2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature Shortlist”

    1. I still have to read We Need New Names but keep getting sidetracked by other books! 🙂 I’d love to hear what you think of the other two when you get to them. Did you post a list of the books you’re reading for the Africa challenge or are you playing it by ear?

      1. I do have a list, but it’s hard to find books on Africa here, so I need back up in case I don’t find the books I listed.

  1. I loved We Need New Names, but it’s had so much publicity and success it’d be quite nice to see one of the others win. Bom Boy in particular sounds like an interesting read…

      1. Ah, a personal connection always adds something. Have you read it yet? It seems to have been positively reviewed on Amazon though it’s only had a couple of reviews so far.

      2. Not yet, tried to get it at the major chain bookshop but doesn’t seem to be available yet strangely…as soon as I can get my hands on a copy I will though.

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