Congo’s Fiston Mwanza Mujila has won the 2017 Internationaler Literaturpreis Award for the German translation of his first novel Tram 83.

Awarded annually by Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the foundation Elementarteilchen, the Internationaler Literaturpreis Award, known in English as the International Literature Award, is a prize for “international prose translated into German for the first time.” While Mujila will be taking home 20,000 euros as the author, his novel’s German translators Katharina Meyer and Lena Müller will be awarded 15,000 euros.

First published in French in 2014, the novel, one of the most acclaimed from Africa in recent years, is renowned for what Professor Ato Quayson calls its “improvisational jazz rhythms.” Set in a nightclub and centered on two friends, the book has earned praised for its restless prose, for being “colourfully exotic.” All the praise it has received pointed towards one thing: that Mujila had written a masterpiece of high art, one in which his philosophy of exploring the “geography of hunger” had been realised.

The book was described as “rhapsodic” and as “a radical report on post-colonial African life in a town built over an immense store of very valuable natural resources” by the award jury.

“Fiston Mwanza Mujila chants, roars, whispers sentences about everyday life in a male society dominated by violence with a radical furor, almost in passing narrating the tale of a crook and of the unlikely salvation of a doomed poet. The translators Katharina Meyer and Lena Müller have found a stirring language for the text that pushes towards the performative.”

Translated into eight languages so far, Tram 83 was nominated for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize and won the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature as well as a French Voices Award.

Here is a description of the book on Amazon.

Two friends, one a budding writer home from abroad, the other an ambitious racketeer, meet in the most notorious nightclub—Tram 83—in a war-torn city-state in secession, surrounded by profit-seekers of all languages and nationalities. Tram 83 plunges the reader into the modern African gold rush as cynical as it is comic and colorfully exotic, using jazz rhythms to weave a tale of human relationships in a world that has become a global village.

Months ago, in April, the English translation of Tram 83—done by Roland Glasser—sparked, on the African literary scene, the fiercest literary conversation of the year so far, a conversation on what makes for misogyny and poverty porn in writing.

Mujila is the second African to win this prize after Teju Cole did in 2012 for Open City. NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names was shortlisted in 2015.

The award ceremony will be held on July 6 in Berlin.

Congratulations to Fiston Mwanza Mujila!

Tags: , , , , ,

About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young’s writing has been shortlisted for the 2016 Miles Morland Writing Scholarship, the 2017 Gerald Kraak Award, and nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize. His fiction has appeared in Transition (“A Tenderer Blessing,” 2015), The Threepenny Review (“Mulumba,” 2016), and Pride and Prejudice: African Perspectives on Gender, Social Justice and Sexuality (“You Sing of a Longing,” 2017), an anthology of The Jacana Literary Foundation and The Other Foundation. His work further appears in Interdisciplinary Academic Essays, Africa in Dialogue, and Brittle Paper, where he is submissions editor. He is the editor of the Art Naija Series: a sequence of concept-based e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness. The first anthology, Enter Naija: The Book of Places (Oct., 2016) focuses on cities. The second, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (June, 2017) focuses on professions. He attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and currently teaches English at another Nigerian university. When bored, he blogs pop culture at naijakulture.blogspot.com or just Googles Rihanna.

One Response to “Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s Tram 83 Wins the 2017 Internationaler Literaturpreis Award in Germany” Subscribe

  1. Obaji-Nwali Shegun 2017/06/23 at 11:18 #

    The novel deserves more trophies. The translator as Fiston did a nice job.

Leave a Reply

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.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

The Reviews Are In! | Namwali Serpell Has High Praise for Jennifer Makumbi’s Kintu

Screen-Shot-2017-09-20-at-4.57.42-PM-e1505944728679 copy

Jennifer Makumbi’s Kintu is one of the hit novels of 2017. A historical drama, it tells the story of an 18th […]

New Website Collects Everything Binyavanga Wainaina Has Written Since the Late 1990s

A new Website has collected everything published by Binyavanga Wainaina since his writing career began in the late 1990s. The […]

Opportunity for All Writers | Submit to Vanguard Literary Services’ HIV/AIDS Awareness Anthology

To mark the 2017 World HIV/AIDS Day on December 1, Vanguard Literary Services, a bookselling company in Nigeria, has called […]

The Graywolf Press Africa Prize Launches with Igoni A. Barrett as Judge

igoni a. barrett

A new award just dropped: the Graywolf Press Africa Prize, for “a first novel manuscript by an African author primarily residing […]

Nnedi Okorafor Celebrates Everyday African Life in New Superhero Comic

okorafor comics

A little over two years ago, South African Sci-fi writer Lauren Beukes collaborated with D. C. Comics on a Wonder […]

Redemption | Andrew Aondosoo Labe | Poetry

7019805185_c41d073551_o

A Pastor says the devil landed here in ‘77. His broken legs can be seen in the twin-rivers. Three-eyed demons […]