Helon Habila recently celebrated his 50th birthday, and afterwards came on Facebook to thank fans for their wishes. He wrote:
Thanks for all your birthday wishes.
I turned 50 today.
A pioneer of the resurgence of African literature in the 2000s, Habila’s success helped pave the way for many of his contemporaries as well as the generation that followed his. His short story, “Love Poems,” was awarded the second ever Caine Prize in 2001. In 2015, he was named co-winner of the Windham-Campbell Prize.
He 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 nonfiction book, The Chibok Girls, was published in 2016. This year, his short story, “Beautiful,” published in Adda, was shortlisted for the Brittle Paper Award for Fiction.
Habila was the first African Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia, where he stayed as a Chevening Scholar, 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 at 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. Most recently, he was named as a judge for Fall For The Book’s New American Voices Award.
Happy birthday, Helon Habila. Brittle Paper wishes you a fulfilling year.