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Pumla Gqola - Chair of Judges

Pumla Gqola – Chair of Judges

It’s been a great couple of weeks for African fiction. I would have been quite content with Teju Cole winning the International Literary Prize and Lauren Beukes getting the big Hollywood break. But two days ago, the Etisalat Prize for Literature was launched at The Wheatbaker in Lagos to much excitement in the African literary community. Novelists, critics, publishers, journalists, and bloggers attended the event. Granta Editor Ellah Allfrey was there alongside  Molara Wood, Lola Soneyin, Dele Olojede, Toni Kan, Victor Ehikhamenor, Femke “Funke” van Zeijl, Kole Omotosho and others.

The prize is essentially the African version of the Commonwealth Book Prize, a prize that caters to emerging writers. The Etisalat Prize for Literature is awarded for the best first novel by a citizen of an African country even though the publisher could be based anywhere in the world. The winner takes home a cash prize of 15,000 pounds. As far as clout and prestige goes, I have a feeling that the Caine Prize now has a rival.

With a prize this big, it’s no surprise that novelists can’t enter their own work. Only publishers who have published a minimum of 10 authors can send in entries. Some have expressed concerns that this stipulation favors bigger, more established publishing houses that will most likely be foreign.

Check out the crispy-clean and classy website HERE.

Thanks to Molara Wood (@molarawood) and Victor Ehikhamenor (@victorsozaboy) for the photos.

Femke "Funke" van zeijl and Igoni Barret. Author. Love is Power or Something Like That.

Femke “Funke” van zeijl and Igoni Barret. Author. Love is Power or Something Like That

Margaret Busby and Billy Kahora - Managing Editor of Kwani.

Margaret Busby and Billy Kahora – Managing Editor of Kwani.

Kole Omotosho and Ebi Atawodi

Kole Omotosho and Ebi Atawodi – Head, High Value Events and Sponsorships at Etisalat Nigeria

Odia Ofeimun

Odia Ofeimun

Bibi Bakare. Publisher. Cassava Republic and Lola Shoneyin. Author. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives

Bibi Bakare. Publisher. Cassava Republic and Lola Shoneyin. Author. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

Ellah Allfrey. Deputy Editor of Granta

Ellah Allfrey. Deputy Editor of Granta

steps with writers name

Watch the Trailer for the Prize.

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

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