2014 Etisalat Prize Shortlist

Three African novels have been selected for the shortlist of the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature and I am proud to see two of the three novelists are South Africans; Nadia Davids and Songeziwe Mahlangu, together with Nigerian Chinelo Okparanta.

“From a strong long list we are now delighted to announce this year’s shortlist which showcases hitherto untold stories from across the continent and beyond.”

The strength of the shortlist is exemplified in the belief that any of the shortlisted writers would make a worthy winner. “Whether it is David’s multigenerational family story set in Cape Town’s Muslim community at the dawn of the new South Africa, or Okparanta’s bittersweet tales of loss and love in Nigeria and abroad, or Mahlangu’s unflinching exploration of mental illness set in contemporary South Africa, each of these books is uniquely compelling. This is a shortlist that delights in the newness of the topics being explored and in the diversity of narrative form. From short stories, to the short novel, to the epic novel – each is a gem in its own right” Manyika concluded. (read more)

Happiness, Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta

Happiness, Like WaterHere are Nigerian women at home and transplanted to the United States, building lives out of longing and hope, faith and doubt, the struggle to stay and the mandate to leave, the burden and strength of love. Here are characters faced with dangerous decisions, children slick with oil from the river, a woman in love with another despite the penalties. Here is a world marked by electricity outages, lush landscapes, folktales, buses that break down and never start up again. Here is a portrait of Nigerians that is surprising, shocking, heartrending, loving, and across social strata, dealing in every kind of change. Here are stories filled with language to make your eyes pause and your throat catch. Happiness, Like Water introduces a true talent, a young writer with a beautiful heart and a capacious imagination. (GoodReads)

Penumbra by Songeziwe Mahlangu

Penumbra

Maybe Mfundo shot me that night. This is all a path to my place of rest. I am being shown my life and the things that happened to me. There was also the night I broke the window in my room. I felt trapped. I tried opening the door, but couldn’t. I was woken by Tongai mumbling that I would not be able to go anywhere. Next, I was pushing on the window. Tongai later told me that I suffer from night terrors. Perhaps I threw Tongai out of the window that night. And the guilt made me shut the truth away. Tongai is dead. I killed him a long time ago. Such a decent guy, who never wanted to harm anyone; I murdered him. It is this sin that is eating me up.  Mangaliso Zolo lives in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, near the university. He has an office job at a large corporate, but he does little every day bar shuffle papers and surf the ’net. Penumbra charts Manga’s daily struggles with the twin pull, from friends and acquaintances, of reckless living or charismatic Christianity. A very different Cape Town comes to life – far removed from both the gloss of tourism brochures or the familiar poverty of the Flats – and a certain dissolute South African reality is dissected with haunting precision. (GoodReads)

An Imperfect Blessing by Nadia Davids

An Imperfect BlessingIt 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.(GoodReads)

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Verity M

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

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