Buckle up guys. The search for Africa’s next best fiction is about to begin.

The last edition of the Etisalat Prize for Literature was a high point in the African literary community.

We all saw the photos from the beautiful award gala and watched Vine clips of Tsi tsi Dangaremgba’s epic dance moves. [Click HERE if you missed it.]

We were also really happy for Songesiwe Mahlangu when he won the prize for his richly evocative novel, Penumbra.

Well, it’s time for yet another edition of the prize. The call for submission has been sent out, and a panel of judges has been selected. Ato Quayson, a Toronto-based Ghanaian professor of literature, heads the panel of judges, which includes Molara Wood and Zukiswa Wanner. Wood is a Nigerian writer, blogger, journalist, critic and editor while Wanner is a South African novelist known for her novel London Cape Town Joburg

The Etisalat Prize is pan-African, 100% home-grown, made for Africans by Africans. Awarded for the best debut fiction by an African author, it is designed to promote new writing from the continent. In just two years of existence, the prize has became a platform for connecting communities of African readers and critics with fresh new voices.

As Matthew Willsher, C.E.O. of Etisalat Nigeria puts it, “Etisalat Prize for Literature serves as a platform for the discovery of new creative writing talents out of the African continent.”



Panel of Judges: Ato Quayson, Molara Wood, Zukiswa Wanner


What’s great about the Etisalat Prize is that the winner doesn’t just take home a fat check, which in this case is 15,000 pounds. The winner also receives a high-end electronic device, a 3-city book tour, creative writing fellowship at the University of East Anglia, and a 1000-copy purchase of the winning work.

As you think about whether to send in an entry, here are a few things you should know: 

1. The deadline for entries is August 27.  Find the application form HERE.

2. The Etisalat Prize is a first book prize—with “book” defined as a minimum of 30,000 words and “first book” defined as first printed production.” 

3.  Entries by new writers must be published within the last 24 months before submission.

4. Books must be published in English. No translations or books published in African languages. Sorry. {Read Carmen McCain’s criticism of this rule HERE)

5. The publisher of your book will be the one to enter your work for the prize. Note that only publishers who have published a minimum of 6 authors and have been in business for a minimum of 6 years are eligible to apply. Each publisher can send in a maximum of 3 different entries.

6. You’d need to have a passport of an African country. That’s how I’m interpreting the statement—eligible novels must be “by an author of African citizenship.”

7. If you’re the solitary-artist type, a private person who hates cameras and the public eye, this prize is probably not a good fit for you. When you’re shortlisted, you’d be expected to “cooperate fully with Etisalat Corporate Communications, making [yourself] available for interviews, events and other opportunities.”

For more information about the prize, including relevant deadlines, entry criteria, and forms head on to the website HERE.


Image courtesy of Etisalat Prize for Literature and Zukiswa Wanner’s Facebook page.

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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

3 Responses to “Applications Now Open for the £15,000 Etisalat Prize for Literature” Subscribe

  1. Tega 2015/07/20 at 7:37 am #

    It seems like poetry is really being ignored.

  2. Abalhasanyn 2015/07/23 at 5:50 am #

    are poetry anthologies welcomed

  3. Carmen 2015/08/27 at 3:09 pm #

    Thanks for the link to my critique of the English-only rule. I noticed it is to the old Trust site. This is the updated link: http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/weekly/index.php/my-thoughts-exactly/13277-african-literary-prizes-where-are-the-translations

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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