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Late last year, we announced that Yemisi Aribisala’s Longthroat Memoirs had been shortlisted for an Andre Simon Food and Drink Book Award. Well, we are delighted to announce that Aribisala took home the John Avery Award, making her the first African to win the award. This win also puts Aribisala in the company of culinary celebrities like Jamie Olivier who won the prize last year for his book Everyday Super Food.

The André Simon Food and Drink Book Awards were founded in 1978 and are the most prestigious and the only awards in the UK to exclusively recognize the achievements of food and drink writers.

There is so much to celebrate about this win. Aribisala broke new grounds with the publication of this collection of essays. There aren’t a lot of writings on African food, not to mention writings that explore food within the context of sex, society, parenting and gender relations. So it matters that Longthroat Memoirs is making waves on the global literary landscape.

The food award’s assessor, food writer and historian Bee Wilson, had nice things to say about the book.

Longthroat Memoirs by Yemisi Aribisala is a breathtakingly original and fresh piece of food writing, which I found myself not just reading but compulsively re-reading. In her wit and truth telling, Aribisala’s voice reminded me of the writing of M.F.K. Fisher. Whether she is writing about the mucilaginous properties of okra soup or the sensuous appeal of eggs, Aribisala is that rare writer who makes you laugh while also informing you about Nigerian food, which, as she points out, is something that has been ‘misunderstood, atrociously photographed, not yet given its due’. Thanks to this book, this should now change.”

In a thank-you note presented by Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, Director Cassava Republic, Aribisala (who wasn’t present at the award ceremony) celebrates the Nigerian context of the book:

“There was nothing I wanted to do more with this book than bring it to a dinner conversation with like-minded, passionate and engaged people. This book tells the truth about every single Nigerian. This is our food. These are our stories. This is just a slice of our humanity. These are many of the good things we have to offer the rest of the world. I take a lot of pride in being Nigerian. I wrote this book for us but how wonderful it is to share it with you.”

Bibi Bakare-Yusuf added:

Longthroat Memoirs puts Nigerian food culture on the global map. It tells the story of how food reflects the intimate side of a culture and offers the context for reading all Nigerian recipe books. Whether you are Nigerian or not, this book is a beautiful read, introducing a terrifically talented writer onto the global stage. This book is our first food title and was a real labour of love. Cassava Republic Press is proud and delighted to have won this prize, especially against such strong competition.”

The Goldsmiths Prize-shortlisted novelist Sarah Ladipo Manyika described Longthroat Memoirs joins the chorus of celebrants:
“Aribisala writes about life through food. Aribisala somersaults through geography, economics, popular culture, art, history, (and yes, of course, sex) via cuisine. Her tales of Nigeria’s many mouth-watering foods are globally spiced with riffs on everything from Yorkshire puddings and Eccles cakes, to the tartufi bianchi, and South Asian red curries. Aribisala writes with verve, sass, and with such humour and confidence that it takes one’s breath away. If ever a book deserves to be a bestseller, this is it.”

Yemisi’s writing on food has been an instant hit. In late 2015, her essay on pepper exploded on social media. And in November of last year, on her week-long book tour where she gave insight into the inspiration and approach of her collection, we shared an excerpt of her essay on meat.

We are happy for Yemisi. Congratulations to her and Cassava Republic for this milestone!

Where to get the book?

Lagos: Patabah bookstore, Shoprite Suru-Lere, Quintessence Ikoyi, Jazzhole Ikoyi, Glendora Ikeja City Mall etc.

Abuja: the Cassava Republic Bookshop stores it and they are at 62B arts and crafts Village, opposite Sheraton.

If you live in the US, the UK, and so on, go HERE.

 

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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