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.

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steps with writers name

Watch the Trailer for the Prize.