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Zimbabwe’s Bernard Matambo.

The Zimbabwean Bernard Matambo’s lyrical emigrant nonfiction, “Working the City,” published in Transition‘s issue 121 and named in Brittle Paper‘s list of the best pieces from 2016, has been selected for the Best American Essays 2017 anthology.

Best American Essays annually collects some of the best nonfiction and essays published in the US. This year’s anthology is guest-edited by Leslie Jamison, author of The New York Times-bestselling essay collection, The Empathy Exams.

“Working the City” was also awarded Transition‘s “Editor’s Choice” and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. And we are happy that a wider audience would get to see what got us so excited about it. Here is how we described it in our end-of-the-year list.

Matambo’s recollection of trying, with a friend, to leave Zimbabwe for America is “lyrical yet sobering” and sometimes humourous. From the generally tempered prose here occasionally emerges such gems as: “a clamor of voices piercing its way through the sunshine,” “Bald head bouncing…catching glints of the sun like an orb of polished metal,” “floating into the city like another leaf longing for a sail,” “the sun low and loud in my face,” “the sun full in my face,” “Another tree advertises a carpenter, the sign rusting like blood at the edges.” It is an often-cynical, mischievous gauge of the Let’s Run Away from Africa efforts and the difficulty of it. “The way people speak about getting a job over there,” he writes, “it’s like picking low-hanging fruit off a ripe tree.”

Bernard Matambo is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Oberlin College, and an extremely popular one. In 2013, his students had to launch a petition to prolong his stay in the faculty. That same year, he received the Ohioana Library Association’s Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant.

Here is Transition‘s announcement.

Read “Working the City” HERE.

Congratulations to Bernard Matambo.

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OTOSIRIEZE is a writer, literary journalist, former academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. A judge for the 2019 Gerald Kraak Award, he is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective which has published two volumes: WE ARE FLOWERS and THE INWARD GAZE. He is the curator of ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness: ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016) focuses on cities in Nigeria; WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017) focuses on professions in Nigeria. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition, and has been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship and the Gerald Kraak Award, both in 2016, and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He has completed a collection of short stories, YOU SING OF A LONGING, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, the boy just Googles Rihanna. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts editing and writing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze.

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