Fiston Mwanza Mujila has been announced as the 2015 winner of the Etisalat Prize for African Literature for his novel Tram 83.
The 34-year-old novelist was awarded the £15,000 prize minutes ago at the Intecontinental Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos (19 March).
The little known author from the Democratic Republic of Congo broke into the global literary scene after the English translation (by Roland Glasser) of his debut novel was published by Texas-based publishing house Deep Vellum. He came out the winner in a closely contested race that had South Africa’s Penny Busetto and Rehana Rossouw in the running.
The win comes as no surprise. Mujila has been a favorite all season long among readers. Brittle Paper correspondent, Nmadiuto Uche, observed that the audience at the award gala was chanting Mujila’s name.
Tram 83, which has been acclaimed for “using jazz rhythms to weave a tale of human relationships in a world that has become a global village,” leaves us with the refreshing realization that African fiction is headed in an experimental direction. A very happy thing given the long history of a culture of aesthetic conservatism in African fiction.
The Etisalat Prize for African Literature reprises for the third time its role as the leading and most prestigious literary prize on the continent. For a prize that was established only three years ago, the meteoric rise of its status in the global literary community is nothing short of a miracle.
Apart from the cash prize, Fiston Mujila will head to the University of East Anglia to perfect his craft in a one year fellowship under the mentorship of Professor Giles Foden. While at the University, Mujila will have the chance to meet and work with a global community of writers, publishers and readers.
Congrats to Mujila! Congrats to an amazing panel of Judges, which comprised of Prof. Ato Quayson, Zukiswa Wanner, and Molara Wood. Kudos to the Etisalat Prize for Literature team.
Thanks to Brittle Paper writer Nmadiuto Uche for her amazing live coverage of the award gala. Brittle Paper was one of the most retweeted accounts all through the award ceremony because of her.
In the next few days, we will have official photos and more information about the ceremony, so stay tuned!
Images by Lola Shoneyin via Twitter @lolashoneyin