Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

sarah-ladipo-manyika-like-a-mule

Just last week, Sarah L. Manyika’s most recent work became one of six novels shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize. The prize was established in 2013 to celebrate novelists breaking grounds on the form and technique of storytelling.

Congrats to Manyika! Very well-deserved. Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun is delightful story but also a brilliant character study. The novel features an aging Nigerian woman named Morayo. She lives in a San Francisco apartment cluttered with books and memorabilia. Her days are mostly spent reading and walking. But against this backdrop of solitude and habit, Manyika projects Morayo’s past life as a high-society belle.

It is a big deal that Like a Mule is on the list. It’s the first African novel to be considered for this prize. But here is why this really matters. Traditionally, African novels are not celebrated for achievements having to do with the technique of storytelling. Readers and publishers look to African writers to explore themes and subject matters steeped in social concerns. They don’t look to African fiction to reinvent the form of the novel.

A sad situation given that African novelists from Achebe to Coetzee have been at the forefront of reinventing the novel as a global form. Manyika being on this list does not necessarily prove that African novels can do so much more than add local color to the novel genre. We’ve always known that.

What her presence on that list proves is that attitudes are changing. After years and years of combined efforts of daring publishers like Cassava Republic, book critics, and visionary novelists like Manyika, conversations about African novels are changing. The literary establishment is beginning to see the breadth of Africa’s influence on the formal changes in the novel.

In a statement released by her publisher, Manyika says she is “thrilled to be nominated for this exciting prize and delighted to be in the company of such fabulous writers.” She also thanked Cassava Republic for getting behind the novel in spite of its “unconventional” form.

Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, co-founder and director of Cassava Republic Press, happens to be an alumna of Goldsmiths, the sponsoring organization of the prize.

“Being a Goldsmiths’ graduate myself,” she says, “I couldn’t be more thrilled that Sarah’s wonderful novel has been shortlisted for this award, which celebrates qualities of ‘creative daring’ associated with the University. When we opened our London office earlier this year one of our aims was to challenge the preconceptions and boundaries of the British literary establishment, so to have an author shortlisted for this prize in particular feels very special to us.”

The other shortlisted novels include The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride, Transit by Rachel Cusk, Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, Hot Milk by Deborah Levy, and Martin John by Anakana Schofield.

Congrats to Manyika. We are rooting for her. We love it when African writers take risks with their work and challenge our notions about what constitutes an African novel.

Kudos to Cassava for doing their bit to keep the African literary scene brimming with delightful but boundary pushing work.

 

Tags: , , ,

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.

2 Responses to “Why it Matters that Sarah L. Manyika is on the Goldsmiths Prize Shortlist” Subscribe

  1. Pinky 2016/10/12 at 11:07 #

    Mighty congrats, Sarah. We’re rooting for you.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika – Always Doing - 2016/10/21

    […] may put it behind other books on the shortlist. Even so I’m glad it’s here – recognizing work by people of color matters and it’s a full, satisfying […]

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus Turns 15: The Best Moments of a Modern Classic

chimamanda ngozi adichie - by ecrivain

“It wasn’t the first novel I wrote,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie told the audience at the University of Nairobi, during her […]

Quramo Writers’ Prize 2018 Unveils Top 5 Finalists

Quramo 1

Lagos – 10/10/18: Quramo Publishing has unveiled the Top 5 finalists of the Quramo Writers’ Prize 2018, two weeks after […]

Enter for the K & L Prize for African Literature

k and l prize

Submissions have begun for the 2019 K & L Prize for African Literature. The $1,000 prize, which is in its […]

The 2018 African Literature Association (ALA) Book Awards | Call for Nominations

ala yale 2017

Submissions have begun for the 2018 African Literature Association (ALA) Book Awards. The deadline for submissions is 1 November 2018. The […]

Nominate a Writer for the Fonlon-Nichols Award for African Literature

nadine gordimer - collage

Nominate a creative writer for the Fonlon-Nichols Award by 1 November 2018. This award, established in 1992 to honor Bernard […]

Pentecostal Republic | A Powerful New Book Tackles the Role of Pentecostalism in Nigerian Politics

pentecostal republics ebenezer obadare

Nigerian Sociologist Ebenezer Obadare is asking us to take a closer look at the underlying forces of Nigeria’s political life. […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.