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Helon Habila.

Helona Habila and Maaza Mengiste have been announced as judges for the Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Award. The novelists will preside over submissions alongside Booker and Baileys Prize finalist Madeleine Thien.

Created by Fall for the Book, Northern Virginia’s oldest literary festival, to mark its 20th anniversary, the Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Award aims “to recognize recently published works that illuminate the complexity of human experience as told by immigrants, whose work is historically underrepresented in writing and publishing.”

Finalists will be announced in early Fall 2018 and all three finalists and the judges will appear at the 2018 Fall for the Book festival, October 10-13 for the inaugural presentation and to read from and discuss their work. The winning writer will receive $5,000 and the two finalists each will receive $1,000. 

Helon Habila is the author of the novels: Waiting for an Angel (2002), which won the 2003 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (Africa Region); Measuring Time (2007), which won the 2008 Virginia Library Foundation Prize for Fiction and was nominated for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the Dublin IMPAC Prize; and Oil on Water (2010), which was shortlisted for the 2012 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Africa Region), the 2013 PEN/Open Book Award, and the 2013 Orion Book Award. His short story, “Love Poems,” was awarded the 2001 Caine Prize. In 2015, he was a co-winner of the Windham-Campbell Prize. He was the first African Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia, where he stayed as a Chevening Scholar. He was a Chinua Achebe Fellow at Bard College, New York, and a DAAD Fellow in Berlin, Germany. He has edited several anthologies including the British Council’s New Writing (2005), Dreams, Miracles and Jazz (2006), and The Granta Book of the African Short Story (2011). A board member of Africa Writers Trust, he has been a contributing editor to the Virginia Quarterly Review since 2004. From 2010 to 2013, he coordinated and facilitated the Fidelity Bank Writers Workshop in Nigeria, and edited an anthology of stories generated by the workshop participants, Dreams at Dawn (2012). In 2013, he and the publisher, Parresia Books, started a publishing company, Cordite Books, dedicated to publishing African crime and detective stories. He is presently a professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Maaza Mengiste. Photo credit: Shevaun Williams.

Ethiopian Maaza Mengiste’s debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze (2010), was runner-up for the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and a finalist for a Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, an NAACP Image Award, and an Indies Choice Book of the Year Award in Adult Debut. It was further named in The Guardian‘s list of the 10 Best Contemporary African Books and as one of the best books of 2010 by Christian Science Monitor and Boston Globe. Mengiste’s fiction and nonfiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC Radio, and Lettre International, among other places. A 2013 Puterbaugh Fellow, she was a writer on the social-activist documentary film, GIRL RISING, which features the voices of actors such as Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, and Cate Blanchett. She currently serves on the boards of Words Without Borders and Warscapes. Her second novel, The Shadow King, is forthcoming.

Find out more about the Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Award HERE.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young was born in Aba, Nigeria and attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. A finalist for the 2016 Miles Morland Writing Scholarship, his short stories include: “A Tenderer Blessing,” which appears in Transition Magazine and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015; “Mulumba,” which appears in The Threepenny Review; and “You Sing of a Longing,” which was shortlisted for the inaugural Gerald Kraak Award and appears in Pride and Prejudice, an anthology by The Jacana Literary Foundation and The Other Foundation. His essays appear in Interdisciplinary Academic Essays and in Brittle Paper where he is Deputy Editor. His interviews appear in Africa in Dialogue, Bakwa Magazine, SPRINNG, and Dwartonline. He is the editor of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, Enter Naija: The Book of Places (October 2016), focuses on Nigerian cities. The second, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (June 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. A postgraduate student of African Studies, he currently teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, Nigeria. When bored, he blogs pop culture at naijakulture.blogspot.com or just Googles Rihanna.

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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.

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