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Nigerian writers absent as Etisalat Prize for Literature 2015 announces shortlist

(L-R): Chief Marketing Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Francesco Angelone; one of the Judges of 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature, Zukiswa Wanner; Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher and one of the Judges of 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature, Molara Wood, at the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature press conference, held in Lagos today (Thursday).
(L-R): Chief Marketing Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Francesco Angelone; one of the Judges of 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature, Zukiswa Wanner; Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher and one of the Judges of 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature, Molara Wood, at the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature press conference, held in Lagos recently

Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Penny Busetto and Rehana Rossouw have been announced as the three shortlisted authors for the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature.

The Etisalat Prize for Literature is the first pan-African Prize that is open solely to debut fiction writers from African countries. Now in its third year, it is acknowledged as the most prestigious literary prize for African fiction.

The three books, selected from the longlist of nine, are: Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Democratic Republic of Congo) – Tram 83 (Deep Vellum); Penny Busetto (South Africa) – The Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself (Jacana Media); Rehana Rossouw (South Africa) – What Will People Say? (Jacana Media).

The shortlist, announced Friday, was selected by a three-member judging panel: Professor Ato Quayson, Professor of English and inaugural Director of the Centre for Diaspora Studies at the University of Toronto (Chair of Judges); Molara Wood, writer, journalist, critic and editor; and Zukiswa Wanner, author of Men of the South and London Cape Town Joburg.

Chair of judges, Professor Ato Quayson, comments: “The variety of styles and subject matter of the books on this year’s Etisalat Prize for Literature shortlist reveal the vitality of contemporary African literature. They contribute to our understanding of what it is to love, to laugh, to improvise, sometimes to despair, to know and yet be fooled by the assurance of such knowledge, to work for our ablution in the fate of another’s suffering, and ultimately to embrace life in all its bewildering complexities.”

Zukiswa Wanner adds: “This year’s Etisalat Prize for Literature shortlist showcases the varied voices emerging on the African literary scene, bringing something beautiful and unique to the reading experience.”

The third member of the judging panel, Molara Wood concludes: “The shortlisted books challenge ready notions about new writing from Africa. They expand the field of literary engagement with themes of nationhood and the self. These are highly original voices whose works will charm and astonish new readers, through the Etisalat Prize for Literature, and deservedly so.

The shortlisted writers will be rewarded with a sponsored multi-city book tour and will also have 1,000 copies of their books purchased by Etisalat for distribution to schools, libraries and book clubs across the Continent.

NoViolet Bulawayo won the maiden edition of the Etisalat Prize for Literature with her highly celebrated debut novel, We Need New Names, while Songeziwe Mahlangu emerged winner of the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature competition with his novel, Penumbra

The winner of the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature will be announced in March and will receive £15,000, an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück pen. The Prize also includes an Etisalat sponsored fellowship at the University of East Anglia, mentored by Professor Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland.

The distinguished Patrons of the Etisalat Prize are noted 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 (UK/Zimbabwe), writer and public intellectual Kole Omotoso (Nigeria), editor, writer, broadcaster, consultant and co-founder of Allison & Busby, Margaret Busby, OBE (UK/Ghana) and novelist, poet and playwright Zakes Mda (South Africa).

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