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The flyer for the 2016 Short Story Day Africa Prize, themed “Migrations.”

The 2017 Short Story Day Africa Prize has announced a longlist of 21 writers: five from both South Africa and Nigeria, three from Kenya, two from Ethiopia, and one each from Zimbabwe, Uganda, Benin, Morocco, Cameroon, and Somalia. The prize’s 2017 theme is “ID,” and the organisers wanted “innovative short fiction exploring identity, especially (but not limited to) the themes of gender identity and sexuality.”

Here is part of the announcement.

As always, the first round of reading was blind. However, due to the nature of the theme we felt it necessary to select readers who would read with both sensitivity and an open mind. The readers we chose are experienced editors and gender activists, who read alongside the SSDA team and board. The list this year features stories from all over the continent and diaspora. The writers approached the theme in a variety of ingenious ways. ‘All Our Lives’ follows nine young men trying to make in Lagos; ‘Limbo’ takes a woman who works as a scarecrow on a journey of sexual discovery; ‘Borrowed by the Wind’ reflects on masculinity, accountability and violence in a South African context; a young Muslim woman questions the patriarchy and her own sexuality in ‘Fever’; while ‘The Piano Player’ is an interesting reversal of the African going to America trope. Other  stories on the longlist tackle notions of love, sexuality, the phenomenon of menstruation, otherness, and mental illness.

Here are the longlisted writers. 

  • “Limbo” by Innocent Ilo – Nigeria
  • “All Our Lives” by Okafor Tochukwu – Nigeria
  • “Borrowed by the Wind” by David Medalie – South Africa
  • “God Skin” by Michael Yee – South Africa
  • “Who We Were Then, Who We Are Now” by Nadu Ologoudou – Benin
  • “Plums” by Kharys Laue – South Africa
  • “Waiting” by Harriet Anena – Uganda
  • “The Piano Player” by Agazit Abate – Ethiopia
  • “A Brief Eruption of Madness” by Eric Essono Tsimi – Cameroon
  • “When the War Came Home” by Heran Abate – Ethiopia
  • “Ibinabo” by Michael Agugom – Nigeria
  • “Fever” by Alithnayn Abdulkareem – Nigeria
  • “Unblooming” by Alexis Teyie – Kenya
  • “Transubstantiation” by Genna Gardini – South Africa
  • “Taba” by Adelola Ojutiku – Nigeria
  • “Bloated” by Hanna Ali – Somalia
  • “The Geography of Sunflowers” by Michelle Angwenyi – Kenya
  • “The House on the Corner” by Lester Walbrugh – South Africa
  • “Blue in Green” by Chourouq Nasri -Morocco
  • “Sew Your Mouth” by Cherrie Kandie – Kenya
  • “South of Samora” by Farai Mudzingwa – Zimbabwe

The shortlist will be announced early next year, comprising the winner, first runner-up and second runner-up. All the longlisted stories will appear in ID: New Short Fiction from Africa, an anthology to be edited by Helen Moffett, along with editing fellows she will mentor in the process. The anthology will be out in July 2018.

Congratulations to the longlisted authors.

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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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