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Yewande Omotoso. Image from Mail and Guardian.

South Africa-based Nigerian novelist Yewande Omotoso has been shortlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award, for her second novel The Woman Next Door. The Award’s longlist, released in November of last year, included four other Africans: Cameroun’s Imbolo Mbue for Behold the Dreamers, Ghana’s Yaa Gyasi for Homegoing, and South Africans Nthikeng Mohlele for Pleasure and Mohale Mashigo for The YearningThe 2017 Award went to Angola’s Jose Eduardo Agualusa for A General Theory of Oblivion.

Formerly the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the International Dublin Literary Award was founded in 1995 and, at €100,000, is the richest for a single book of fiction published in English. Sponsored by Dublin City Council, it is managed by Dublin City Libraries, in line with Dublin’s 2010 designation as a UNESCO City of Literature. For each prize, libraries in major cities worldwide make nominations. If the book has been translated the author receives €75,000 and the translator receives €25,000.

Image from NPR.

Published by Chatto & Windus in 2016, Yewande Omotoso’s The Woman Next Door had been longlisted for the 2017 Women’s Prize for Fiction, and was a finalist for  2017 University of Johannesburg Main Prize, the 2017 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, and the 2017 Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize. Here’s a description on Amazon.

Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbours. One is black, one white. Both are successful women with impressive careers. Both have recently been widowed. And both are sworn enemies, sharing hedge and hostility and pruning both with a vim and zeal that belies the fact that they are over eighty.

But one day an unforeseen event forces the women together. And gradually the bickering and sniping softens into lively debate, and from there into memories shared. But could these sparks of connection ever transform into friendship? Or is it too late to expect these two to change?

Here are the other nine shortlisted novels:

  • Baba Dunja’s Last Love by Alina Bronsky (Ukrainian/German) Translated from the German by Tim Mohr. Published by Europa Editions.
  • The Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera (Mexican) Translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman. Published by And Other Stories.
  • The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen (Norwegian) Translated from Norwegian by Don Bartlett & Don Shaw. Published by MacLehose Press.
  • Human Acts by Han Kang (South Korean) Translated from Korean by Deborah Smith. Published by Portobello Books and Random House, USA.
  • The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride (Irish) Published by Faber & Faber.
  • Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (Irish) Published by Tramp Press.
  • Distant Light by Antonio Moresco (Italian) Translated from Italian by Richard Dixon. Published by Archipelago Books.
  • Ladivine by Marie Ndiaye (French) Translated from French by Jordan Stump. Published by MacLehose Press.
  • The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso (South African/Nigerian/Barbadian) Published by Chatto & Windus.
  • My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (American) Published by Penguin, UK

Congratulations to Yewande Omotoso.

AN AFRICAN HISTORY OF THE INTERNATIONAL DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD

The first African winner of the International Dublin Literary Award is Morocco’s Tahar Ben Jelloun in 2004, for his novel This Blinding Absence of Light. In 2005, South Africa’s Diane Awerbuck made the shortlist for her novel Gardening at Night. In 2006, there were two Africans: Nigeria’s Chris Abani for GraceLand and Algeria’s Yasmina Khadra for The Swallows of Kabul. In 2007, J.M. Coetzee, then of South Africa, was chosen for Slow Man.

In 2008, Yasmine Khadra made a return with The Attack. In 2012, it was Sierra Leonean-Scottish Aminatta Forna for The Memory of Love. In 2015, the longlist had Chimamanda Adichie for Americanah, Aminatta Forna again for The Hired Man, Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo for We Need New Names, and Morocco’s Mahi Binebine for Horses of God, with Adichie and Binebine reaching the shortlist. In 2016, the shortlist had Rwanda’s Scholastique Mukasonga for Our Lady of the Nile.

Alongside 2017 winner Agualusa on the ten-writer shortlist were Nigeria’s Chinelo Okparanta for Under the Udala Trees and his close friend Mozambique’s Mia Couto for Confession of the Lioness. They had been chosen from a longlist of 147 books, which included Nigeria’s Chigozie Obioma for The Fishermen and Algeria’s Kamel Daoud for The Meursault Investigation.

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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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