Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 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: , , ,

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.

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

  1. Pinky October 12, 2016 at 11:07 am #

    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 - October 21, 2016

    […] 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

“I Have Come Undone” | Adichie Writes Moving Statement on Grieving for Her Father

chimamanda Adichie tribute father james nwoye adichie

Chimamanda Adichie’s father, Professor James Nwoye Adichie, died on Wednesday June 10, 2020. Today, the author breaks her silence around […]

Submit to Ouida Books’ New Imprint on Technology in Africa

Ouida Books is Currently Accepting Submissions for Her New Imprint LWM (2)

Lagos-based publishing press Ouida Books is accepting submissions for its new imprint LWM. LMW is the third addition to the […]

Wayétu Moore Announces New Novel Exploring Mami Wata Mythology

Wayétu Moore Announces New Novel Exploring Mami Wata Mythology

Liberian-American author Wayétu Moore is staying busy and productive. Barely a year since the release of her widely praised memoir […]

Tsitsi Dangarembga Petitions Parliament of Zimbabwe for Removal of Health Minister Obadiah Moyo

Tsitsi Dangarembga Obadiah Moyo (1)

On June 19, 2020, Zimbabwe Health Minister Obadiah Moyo was arrested on corruption charges for engaging in an illegal 60 […]

Is This Us? The Many Holes in Nigerian-American Portrayal of the Nigerian Experience | Damilola Oyedele | Essay

Yvonne Orji Nigerian Americans about Nigeria

A few weeks ago, as I watched Yvonne Orji explain Nigerian slang to her audience, feelings I couldn’t immediately name […]

The Meaning of Guernica | Umar Abubakar Sidi | Poetry

Guernica Umar Abubakar Sidi poetry (1)

  Guernica Celebration of modern fascism Horrific devastation in the Basque town of Guernica Monochrome grisaille Crawling analysis of the […]

Thanks for signing up!

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

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.